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Driving Quality Control Directly to the Production Floor
For too many manufacturers, the cost of quality management is seen as an expense that’s necessary to maintain compliance or satisfy customers. They don’t view it as beneficial from an operational or efficiency standpoint.
- Poor quality control (QC) programs are reactive.
- Quality issues are discovered only after the fact or when they cause problems.
- QC teams are too busy putting out fires to work proactively.
However, driving quality control directly to the production floor can become a strategy for more efficient operations and improved profitability. A robust quality control plan will reduce costs and improve quality. It reduces the amount of scrap, waste, and rework that cut into profits.
When things are well-documented and efficient, passing internal and external audits become easier. Audits will be less time-consuming and reduce the number of headaches that they can cause.
Quality control and strong process discipline help create consistent and repeatable processes, which are vital to efficient manufacturing operations.
The Cost of Poor Quality
Too many organizations accept the waste as part of the cost of doing business. Many organizations don’t even track the cost of poor quality (COPQ).
Once a part or product reaches the customer, the cost to fix a defect or replace it can be huge. If a non-conformance isn’t discovered until the end of a production run, it can be frustrating. The entire staff must understand the cost multipliers that come into play when there’s a lack of consistent quality. It takes a total team approach to identify problems, investigate the root cause, and solve them.
How COPQ Affects Quality on the Shop Floor
Manual processes are costing you more than you might think. On the shop floor, they create inefficiencies that waste time and lead to production errors. These inefficiencies include:
- The time it takes to collect and record data
- Human error
- Missed variances
- Outdated information
- Lack of documentation
Over time, it even allows the production staff to develop bad habits.
Tracking non-conformances becomes difficult when you’re doing things manually. It’s easy for critical information to get missed, get misplaced, or be out of date. Isolating where problems occur in the production pipeline, communicating CAPAs, and creating repeatable high-quality producing processes are all difficult.
One of the biggest complaints from those on the production floor using a manual approach is about the lack of real-time, up-to-date data that’s readily available. This leads to a host of problems, including:
- Poor decision-making
- Business inefficiency
- Mistrust of data
- Increased expenses
The cost of poor quality goes beyond just scrap, waste, and rework—it will hurt a manufacturer’s profit margins. It will also lead to customer complaints, a failure to meet customer demands, higher support costs, and potential damage to customer relations and re-orders.
Another factor that many manufacturers fail to consider is the impact of lost opportunity cost. The more you have to rework projects, deal with customer complaints, or manage any other problems caused by poor quality, the less time and money you have to invest in other areas.
Measuring the Cost of Quality
The American Society for Quality suggests that the cost of quality is between 15% and 40% of sales for organizations. That’s a big differential and a big opportunity to cut costs.
The four components that measure the costs of quality are:
- Internal failure
- External failure
Cost of Quality = Prevention + Appraisal + Internal Failure + External Failure
The first two (prevention and appraisal) are proactive, but most QC efforts focus on the last two (internal and external failure), which are reactive.
It’s inefficient for manufacturers to manage quality practices manually or use a separate quality assurance solution instead of an all-in-one solution used by everyone, including the production floor technicians.
Failure Reporting, Analysis, and Corrective Action System (FRACAS)
Many manufacturers settle on a FRACAS for managing quality. While it’s an effective component of a quality control process, the FRACAS is focused solely on reactive practices, including:
- Final product inspection plans
- Documenting problems and failures
- Corrective actions
- Failure and correction-related metrics
This traditional standalone QC process reacts to errors and manages the results of poor quality. The right systems will integrate QC throughout the manufacturing process to avoid errors and focus on preventive practices.
The Right Software Can Drive Quality Home
When you have an integrated quality management system (QMS) that includes a manufacturing execution system (MES), it eliminates the reliance on manual processes. By tying quality control and quality assurance directly to individual work centers and processing steps on the production floor, you can bring together real-time data into a single database platform and eliminate separate silos of disjointed and sometimes inaccurate information.
It provides for:
- Accurate information
- Consistent communication
- Timely information
- QC measurement
By using Bluestreak’s™ MES | QMS, for example, users can quickly and simply set up control plans attached to each order that define an order’s specific quality and processing requirements, such as operating instructions, inspection and testing requirements, data collection, sampling plans, statistical process control, and more.
The Bluestreak™ QMS enables users to directly collect quality data within the platform, while providing powerful quality control tools. This injects robust quality management into the entire organization, from the front office to the production floor.
Managing QC data is a powerful tool for reducing costs, as well as having:
- Less scrap, waste, and rework
- Fewer customer complaints
- Streamlined audits and compliance
- More efficient processes
Bluestreak™: Better Data, More Quality Control
Quality control can make or break a manufacturer. Being off by the smallest margin or failing to produce a finished product exactly to specification can result in a completely rejected batch, leading to more scrap, more rework, higher costs, and unhappy customers.
Without reliable quality control in place, avoiding bad audits in manufacturing will be extremely difficult. Even if you can pass them, there may be lengthy delays to document and report everything.
With Bluestreak’s™ MES | QMS, your audit trail will be automated. It keeps track of everything that you need to keep business flowing and improve productivity on the shop floor. For commercial job shops, Bluestreak™ provides end-to-end control, from quoting to invoicing and from maintenance and production tracking to real-time customer portal access. A fully extensible and audit-compliant QMS allows you to have all your critical production documentation available any time you need it. This helps get rid of “silos” of disconnected data. There are also the following features:
- Process standardization
- Process enforcement
- Configuration verification
- Real-time data
- Statistical process control
- Production process verification
- Personnel and equipment qualification
- Audits and compliance documentation
These all lead to better data and a higher level of quality control.
Bluestreak™ MES/QMS software simplifies each step for all levels of participants to do their part. Whether they are workers on the shop floor, supervisors, managers, or front-office staff, having complete visibility throughout the entire process improves quality and helps manage production costs from start to finish.
Bluestreak™ vs. ERP/MRP
To address better shop floor control, many service-based companies have implemented traditional ERP/MRP systems that have required expensive customizations to adequately handle service-based workflow requirements. Unlike conventional ERP/MRP systems, Bluestreak™ is designed exclusively for a service-based manufacturing environment, where the primary focus is processing, not inventory management. The difference is monumental.
For smaller businesses, a full-blown ERP/MRP system is both overkill and cost-prohibitive. ERP/MRP systems are designed for inventory-based manufacturing environments, not for service-based manufacturing environments. Service or process-based environments—such as most metal-treating businesses—have workflows that are process-oriented, not inventory-oriented. Tracking inventory is a secondary concern, if it’s applicable at all.
ERP/MRP systems often cost far more than Bluestreak™. With Bluestreak™, you get the right functionality for your business at a fraction of the price of a customized ERP solution.
About Throughput Consulting, Developer of Bluestreak’s™ MES | QMS
Throughput Consulting Inc. is an innovative software development company that was founded in 2005 to address specific requirements in the various manufacturing verticals, including service-based manufacturing companies that are part of the manufacturing supply chain. It focuses on the following:
- Heat treating
- Powder coating
- Additive Manufacturing/3D printing
- Liquid and other coatings
- Surface finishing
Get a Free Demo of Bluestreak’s™ MES | QMS
For more information about Bluestreak’s™ MES | QMS or to get a free demonstration, contact us today. Let us show you how we can improve your manufacturing quality control by driving quality directly to the production floor.
Bluestreak’s MES + QMS solution helps service-based manufacturers drive quality straight down to the production floor to minimize scrap and rework and, therefore, protect their profit margins.
If you’re ready to leave manual, time-consuming service-based manufacturing tasks in the past, drastically reduce your scrap and rework percentage, gain visibility of your production floor processes, and build better relationships with your customers, contact us for a free consultation today!