Complacency in compliance
Before we discuss trends in manufacturing, let’s celebrate! The banners are going up, and the certifications are being posted to the company website. Another successful audit is in the books!
It’s hard to imagine, but it was only a few months ago that the entire op was failing audits left and right. The risk of losing money, customers, and contracts was an ever-present fear, one certainly not lost on the operations manager, the shop workers, and of course, the head office.
But what changed? And is that change sustainable? Could the operation, now known for its highly-specialized processes, pull a 180 and head right back to the days where quality escapes were the norm?
These are questions that you will continue to face so long as there is a need for both make-to-stock (MTS) parts and engineered-to-order (MTO) pieces.
The latest and greatest in quality management system (QMS) design is a useful place to start, but software is only one factor in an increasingly complex equation that forces entire operational teams to stay up to date on the latest trends in manufacturing standardization, information protection, data management, storage best practices, and continuous process improvement initiatives.
Here’s how to stay ahead of four cutting-edge trends in manufacturing quality control, as well as how to protect against non-conformance issues in the future.
1. Defining quality
It was once considered by many operation managers laughable that quality was one of the leading trends in manufacturing, since that’s the quality assurance department’s problem.
That said, it’s less humorous to learn that 60% of shop-floor managers are unaware that quality control is not quality assurance and vice versa. They’re actually mutually exclusive! What’s more, every quality escape means that more profit is removed from the company’s bottom line and reinvested right back into its operation (at cost) to prevent defects from traveling downstream.
Therefore, it is imperative for the operations team to know not only the difference between quality assurance (the macro-level plan to ensure client and end-user confidence in production processes) and quality control (making sure every ETO and MTS item is on-spec and ready to use) but also the cost of one quality escape. This creates an environment that supports automated QMS design and an entire culture of quality.
Once achieved, a climate of compliance will allow the QMS to automate the control plan, ensure that audits are performed routinely, maintain test results for outside inspection, and track defect injection from upstream partners through production part approval processes (PPAP).
2. Measuring (to the standard)
The next of the cutting-edge trends in manufacturing quality systems is in keeping with the standard. When a small outside team is looking to integrate more fully with a large corporate partner (or to make redundant the latter’s internally specialized corps), knowing whether to focus on MTS growth or innovative ETO outputs is critical.
Automated QMS structures take the guesswork out of version control, while solving for the concept of garbage in, garbage out, through tailorable PPAPs and Supplier Corrective Actions (SCARs).
Having this type of quality assurance plan in place and integrated across departments and firms means that the integrity of the supplier-to-original-equipment-manufacturer (OEM) relationship remains undisturbed when a trusted data trail is easily accessible, paperless, and reflective of any and all corrective actions.
3. Designing, testing, monitoring, and improving people and processes
In keeping with this theme of paperless documentation, it makes sense to avoid complacency in compliance not only within processes but also among technicians.
You can improve the operational process by reducing shop-floor costs by as much as 23% by making sure the right tech, with the right qualifications, is performing the right job at the right time. In other words, the right QMS software platform can help you maintain an accurate line-of-sight on current and future work orders, machine calibration schedules, and employee training records.
QMS frameworks can also help reduce administrative costs associated with employee turnover and redundancies by over 20%, since such software prevents shop-floor workers from using an outdated technical specification or accidentally attempting to machine a part on a malfunctioning piece of equipment.
4. Having control, control, and more (quality) control
The cost of quality cannot go unstated nor underreported. Imagine being able to make redundant a large internal quality assurance or quality control team through fewer defects, tighter processes, and more timely version control. This can return potential lost profit to investors, customers, or even top-performing employees!
What’s more, you can hold accountable all supply-chain partners through effective and accurate data monitoring and tracking. This aspect of QMS means that product recalls occur much faster and fewer profitable partnerships are ruined by accusing an upstream partner of a defect injection that actually originated on the shop floor.
Consider the following case study as a sort of warning.
An electrifying (car) case study
Automobiles, like aircraft and other heavy-industry manufacturers, carry a high cost of doing business. This is especially true if there is a quality or safety issue or alternatively, an element that makes the end product appear experimental or untested, as has often been the case with Tesla.
Like most automotive production companies, Tesla outsources most of its specialized parts. Back in early 2018, however, the firm quickly realized the truth in the adage, “What gets outsourced, gets out of control.”
Tesla was quick to blame upstream suppliers for out-of-spec parts, which drove an enormous amount of rework for the electric car company. This caused the company to reconfigure its entire supply chain, wrestle back control of technical orders, and ultimately, look to reduce defect injection through statistical variance models, all before even accepting a delivery.
Talk about waste!
The large corporation was able to recover, of course, but what about those upstream suppliers? If they survived, which is often not the case, then they would have had to quickly implement a QMS that relieved them of any future claims against their manufacturing practices while simultaneously enabling them to root out any out-of-control processes.
A quick review of the trends in manufacturing quality systems should reveal that quality is not so much a fad that is here one day and gone the next. Rather, it is a strong theme that transcends industries and can be seen as either friend or foe.
In order to keep quality in one’s operational corner, all managers must adopt a QMS that increases transparency, improves insight into problematic processes, and reduces the likelihood of any failed audits, which in turn, will keep those ISO banners flying high!
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!