By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software
Every manufacturer struggles to improve quality during production. Any level of defect is unacceptable, causing scrap, rework, missed ship dates, and lost profit. Quality defects can cause a host of other problems more difficult to measure; including customer’s losing confidence in your product and frustration on the operations team.
While you may have a team working hard to improve quality assurance and quality control, manufacturers must be judicious in pursuing increased quality. With any quality program, there are diminishing returns for the initiatives. Adding more people to Quality Control, or creating additional checklists for production, will not always bring an acceptable return.
However, there are simple steps you can take to bring sustainable improvements in quality and provide a solid foundation for future initiatives.
A Closer Look at Manufacturing Quality
There are two distinct aspects to production quality.
Quality assurance is usually defined as the management of the quality of parts, materials, tools, production engineering plans, production processes and all aspects of the work flow. Quality assurance focuses on the proactive preparation for the release of orders, eliminating common sources of errors by guaranteeing inventory and tooling is available and creating of easily understood production instructions. These are two critical elements to support an efficient production process.
The other aspect of production quality is Quality Control, commonly defined as the data collection measurements and inspections made during production to ensure products meet or exceeds specifications. Quality control requires accurate measurements be taken during production, and a record made of all metrics in the engineering specifications. By identifying and eliminating defects early, before they become more serious and costly, overall workflow and production performance is improved.
Simple Steps to Improve Production Quality
Manufacturers using paper to manage quality and production are creating an environment with a high risk of quality defects. Paper simply cannot adequately support modern manufacturing, especially not as a tool in Quality Assurance and Quality Control. Companies relying on paper will see limited improvement in manufacturing quality, but larger gains are impossible due to the fundamental flaws of using paper to manage production. Build books filled with brief instructions and difficult-to-understand steps printed off a few hours earlier, and quality measurements hastily scribbled on sheets of paper do nothing to control or manage quality.
Continuous sustainable quality improvement starts by eliminating paper from the production process and transitioning to Paperless Manufacturing. Consider these simple steps:
- Convert the paper environment to a digital environment.
There’s no need to recreate your work instructions. Move your existing, corrected instructions to a digital format that can quickly be accessed by engineering as they are planning. The shop floor benefits with revision controlled, accurate work instructions and multimedia production assistance when needed.
- Integrate production information from inventory management to shipping.
Incorporate all production documents and data in common records that can be accessed when and where they are needed. Eliminate the struggle production has in finding information when they need it, by linking relevant data to each operation.
- Use digital methods to assure and control quality at every step.
Automatically collect data and ensure specifications are met. Shorten the time a defect is identified and corrected with automatic tolerance and a closed loop disposition system. Create proactive alerts for inventory shortage, machine issues, or bottlenecks.
Companies that have embraced paperless manufacturing have seen their production quality increase, often dramatically, by using readily-available technology to aid, manage and control the materials and process steps of the work flow. Automating the process of collecting metrics and responding to defects at the point of occurrence isn’t difficult, and will improve quality and profitability. Unlike systems that only target specific areas of the manufacturing value chain, paperless manufacturing provides a solid foundation to improving both Quality Assurance and Quality Control across the production workflow.
Contact CIMx Software to see how Paperless Manufacturing can improve quality for you.