Bad quality is bad for business.
The American Society for Quality (ASQ) puts the cost of poor quality at 10 to 15% of operations for even the most successful manufacturing companies.
With that in mind, no manufacturing business can afford to neglect it. But how do you prevent bad quality in your operations? What is the role of technology in avoiding bad quality?
That’s what this blog is all about.
How far-reaching is the impact of bad quality?
If you have one or more quality issues, you’re likely to face some immediate problems such as machine downtime, variation, or even – heaven forbid – a safety incident. But it doesn’t stop here.
Let’s say you’ve got a batch of metal components that haven't been tempered correctly due to heat-treating equipment. These parts are sold and used as part of an engine. When the components fail, the engines are going down too.
Your customers may start looking elsewhere for the components, losing you future sales. You’ll need to foot the bill for costly product recalls and refunds. You’ll need to fix the faulty machine or system. Internal ripples start too – frustrated and overworked maintenance staff trying to patch up preventable problems. Reduced morale can turn into productivity losses.
Lost revenue. Tarnished reputation. Employees looking for the exit. Reduced productivity. It all adds up, and it can add up fast.
That's why quality isn't just about checking boxes — it's about understanding how all the pieces fit together. You need to make sure that the first domino never gets a chance to fall. It’s about building a culture of quality across your operations.
Growing and cultivating a Culture of Quality
Prioritizing quality leadership
First up, you need to get your leadership team on board. Communicate that quality isn’t a department, it’s a way of doing business. Set clear quality objectives that align with business goals. Ensure everyone from the C-suite down knows these are top priorities.
Initiate regular quality meetings with top brass involved and have them participate actively. When the floor staff see leaders engaged, it makes a world of difference. It's about walking the walk — literally. Get your leaders out on the floor, talking to teams, showing that they value quality.
Embedding quality in the DNA
You've got to make quality a part of the company's identity. For new staff, hammer home the concept of quality from day one. For long-standing staff, refresh and reinvigorate their commitment. Let everyone across the company know that bad quality isn’t an option.
Set up recognition programs for quality achievements to get everyone invested and build pride in workmanship across the board.
Proactive Quality Assurance measures
Shift the company mindset from firefighting to fire prevention. Rigorous maintenance and calibration need to become routine, not something that happens when there's a problem.
To do this, you can implement scheduled checks and inspections. Use examples to show workers how this approach not only saves time and money, but also makes their life easier in the long run.
Robust testing protocols
Develop a comprehensive testing protocol for every product line. Make sure these tests simulate even the most extreme usage scenarios. Explain how over-testing can prevent costly recalls. It's all about ensuring reliability before the product leaves the factory, not just compliance.
SOPs: the blueprint for consistency
Standard operating procedures (SOPs) should be in place. They need to be clear, accessible, and — most importantly — up-to-date. Engage your teams in the creation and review process so they have a sense of ownership. Give them a real-world example of how effective SOPs can be in streamlining process introductions. Communicate the idea that consistency in process equals consistency in quality.
Empowering through training
Finally, invest in training. But don't just stop at the 'how' – teach the 'why'. Generate a mindset where employees are always thinking about the reputation of the company. Share success stories to encourage continuous learning and improvement.
The role of technology in avoiding bad quality
We’ve saved the most important piece of the puzzle for last – technology.
Imagine having eyes on every part of your production line, 24/7 — that's what modern tech offers.
For instance, you can apply IIoT sensors to detect when a machine starts to drift out of calibration. Use software to track the performance of every unit produced, flagging the smallest deviations that don't meet the specs. It's not just about catching defects – you can also predict them. AI-powered predictive analytics can tell you that a machine is likely to fail before it actually does, based on subtle shifts in its operations data.
Establish real-time data flows
In the old days, you had to run tests and wait for results. If there was a problem, it could take days to spot and even longer to correct. Now, with real-time data flows and monitoring, you get instant feedback. That insight helps tremendously in decision-making.
The moment a product deviates from quality parameters — you're alerted. Automation can take it even further by making adjustments without human intervention, reducing the chance of human error.
Cloud-based Quality Management Systems (QMS)
A cloud-based QMS is your biggest ally in combating bad quality. It centralizes data from sensors and monitors for access anytime, anywhere, tracking trends and automatically alerting you to issues or initiating corrective actions.
Let's say you're producing medical devices where coating thickness is crucial. The QMS monitors each device, detecting minute deviations, like a batch slightly off due to environmental temperature changes. You're immediately informed, allowing you to stop production before more faulty units are made, thus avoiding potential issues with regulators, doctors, and patients.
A good QMS isn't reactive – it's a proactive tool.
It gathers rich data over time, which you can analyze to make your processes more robust. You can identify which suppliers' materials result in fewer defects or what times of day your production runs most smoothly. This kind of insight is priceless. It allows you to make informed decisions that enhance quality before there's even a risk of an issue.
Ready to put bad quality behind you?
With the AlisQI cloud-based QMS you can take the lead on good quality and minimize the costs of bad quality.
Exactly how much can your QMS save you?
How can you assess the impact of any quality-related investment?
And how can you use software to reduce waste, save time, and significantly improve your FTR?
Join our free webinar to answer these questions and put bad quality behind you.