Success on the production floor starts with the smallest of protocols and that's to ensure quality in every part, component and process along the production journey.
Proper quality control measures must be created and enforced to 1), ensure product reliability and 2), optimize production. Bad product quality can impact safety , organizational reputations and of course, incur extremely heavy recovery costs.
To maintain standards of quality, other crucial pieces of the production process are necessary. These include Equipment Maintenance, Calibration and real time monitoring & enforcement of quality polices. This is on top of accurate testing and measurements resulting in proper data analysis afterwards to make corrections.
Implementing Quality Control
A best practice for quality control is to have well-defined quality standards. This means knowing and setting:
Margins of error
How to detect infringement of those margins
Such pre-emptive measures allow manufacturers to standardize and optimize their production quality, calibrate machinery, and implement maintenance if required. The earlier the detection, the better. This can be done through random batch sampling, or ideally 100% sampling where possible for incoming materials, WIP and finished goods.
Some examples of quality assurance (QA) testing on the production floor would be:
1. Random Sampling
Out of each batch, an app can be used for recording of samples to pick out potential defects. Apps can also be configured to send notifications when samples should be taken at set timings per batch run.
2. 100% Testing
For maximized quality testing, automation can be used for fast testing (vision or other electronic means based). For example, in a bottling line, sensorization or visualization tools like cameras can be set at the end of a production line to inspect labels and cans are produced or sealed properly. This can be integrated further with measurement tools such digital calipers or other external testing devices. An example of such testing devices would be to conduct an electrical test on a device that a user plugs in to ensure that the voltage is within standards and then automatically recorded into a digital system Without any manual key in or recording required. We see many of these types of automated quality control recordings being mandated across industries such as those in semiconductors and food & beverage as a criteria for supplier requirements.
For testing, it is also important to have expertise and proper communication. Internal specialists or external vendors are usually the choice to help ease the difficulty in training workers in quality practices. These specialists will enforce quality checks and inform manufacturers of areas that need improvement or preventive action. Proper communications channels are also imperative for quick reporting and for action to be taken promptly. Doing this digitally is key to speed up information transparency and also accuracy of data collection.
Protocol should also be developed for staff to adhere to during production and understand what follow-up actions should be carried out in lieu of a detected error or fault. These can be digitalized workflows and procedures that require strict adherence to prevent the risk of bad product being used or shipped.
It is imperative that crucial quality data be captured and communicated to the right parties. Using a Manufacturing Execution System (MES), scheduling production or maintenance, enabling efficient workflows and including proper validation in checklists, and easy access to dashboards for data visualization are some ways that manufacturers can opt to digitalize their quality control processes.
The Benefits of Effective Quality Control
When it comes to product performance or reputation, a machine breakdown or product recall can cause a landslide in terms of revenue loss. Margins can be lost over poor product performance and ratings from customers, even more so if lawsuits take hold. Ensuring proper quality control and compliance to manufacturing standards will help reduce overall liability at the end-user stage.
Improve Brand Image and Identity
High Quality products translate to stellar performance and the maintenance of good brand image. With consistency in product quality, firms are able to create trust in customers, retain good sales margins, and leverage on customer referrals.
Increase Customer Loyalty
In relation to creating a strong brand image. top quality products will invariably help to build trust and relationships with end users or customers. This helps in terms of promotion and engagement with customers, encouraging repeat buyer behavior and referrals.
Improve Employee and Customer Safety
Ensuring quality not only concerns the end product, but also affects the processes in between that and the start of production. Earlier, we mention the impact of good maintenance and calibration practices to ensure that machinery and equipment continue running at optimal levels and remain safe to use. This not only creates a productive work environment for workers, but is also a factor in creating good quality products for customers (especially in industries like automotive, aviation, construction, etc) that are safe to use and perform as required.
Improve Efficiency for Equipment & Sustainability
With consistent maintenance practices and quality upkeep, the chances of faulty products and/or machinery are greatly reduced. Proper quality control practices help to save time, money, resources and energy consumption. Efficient production = lower costs, higher output and is better for the environment.
Check out some of Arcstone's Digital Manufacturing solutions and see how you can start making improvements to your own quality control processes today.