Manufacturing Quality Assurance Process and Best Practices
Quality Assurance is a vital part of your business, thus an essential component to ensure the products arrive in good condition into the customer’s hands.
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The benefits of quality assurance are:
- cost savings
- more profits
- higher customer satisfaction
- sustained business growth in short, medium, and long term
According to ISO 9000, quality is the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills a need. That means a variety of KPIs have to be reached simultaneously, such as:
- the products are in compliance with all specifications,
- the products present a low percentage of defects,
- the products and materials are under tolerance,
- packaging and/or packing materials suffer no damages,
- delivery times meet customer expectations,
- customer service representative replies quickly,
The following are some tips to ensure the best manufacturing practices and good-quality products in your business:
1. Standardize and reduce the variability of your manufacturing/service processes and products
Any organization offers a mix of products and services. Once you introduce a new product in the market, there’s a capacity to produce them in a more efficient way.
There are innumerable ways to standardize and reduce variability:
- Create and keep updated your Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), recipes, BOM, and formulas.
- Certify your products and processes. For example, a given food company certificates ISO 9000 and HACCP.
- Ensure that machinery and tools are in good condition.
- Promote internal and external audits.
- Introduce tools that allow measuring and improving your performance. For instance, put in place the Seven Quality Tools to ensure the diameter of a steel part is in compliance with the required specifications.
- Introduce Six Sigma Methodologies to reduce product anomalies.
- Introduce Lean Management to drop non-value-added activities to eradicate or reduce manufacturing waste.
Manufacturing waste is any activity that doesn’t add value to the product. Examples:
- excess of transport using an oversized means of transport,
- excess of movement whenever a worker looks for a tool in an untidy workplace,
- excess of storage having an extra safety stock,
- excess of production when producing large batches,
- excess of processing when the raw materials or products are not clearly specified,
- rework due to low-quality products,
- delays in deliveries to the customers,
- product defects.
2. Create a teamwork atmosphere and train your members continuously
There are a variety of assets within any organization: machinery, buildings, dollars, etc. The traditional accounting systems don’t show a valuable one – people.
Thanks to people, organizations are able to think, plan, coordinate, negotiate or run a machine within your organization. People are the core of your business and thus, they can transform the raw material into finished goods and improve them.
A teamwork atmosphere will increase both individual and organizational capabilities. Investing in people, for instance through training, will ensure involvement, improvement, and organizational goal achievements. Promote a safe and clean environment in your workplace to ensure higher employee productivity.
3. Put in place strategic KPIs and foster communication
The vision and goals of every organization are set by the top leaders or directors. How is it possible to transfer that information or ideas in the purest way to all members of the organization? The answer is simple: setting strategic KPIs and fostering communication.
The KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) allow members to:
- measure any relevant current situations,
- set standards and goals,
- improve the process in a given period of time.
It’s also important to create KPIs that contribute to the improvement of the organization. Don’t jeopardize the business goals by creating indicators that may harm other departments. For instance, introduce the KPI “On time in full (OTIF)” instead of “delivery tons”.
It’s also important to balance the short, middle, and long term. For example, Volume of Sales is important at any period, but also you may consider the Return on Investment (ROI). ROI will ensure the future sustainability of any organization.
Communication is the other sustainable leg. Again, KPIs are just indicators and figures, and only through communication and cooperation in the work team, the results will be achieved.
4. Keep records updated in one integrated ERP System
Either way, if your organization operates on a global scale or just attends a small regional market, it is important to record your processes.
Use the appropriate ERP system, update the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and keep them updated.
Introduce planning at all levels, and introduce not only corrective but also preventive action plans. Measure and compare actual performance to introduce operational improvements.
ERP software has the ability to create more agile processes, improve lead times and improve customer service, in addition to complying with good practice standards. In summary, ERP software contributes to an increase in the general quality standards of any organization.
5. Set partnerships with the right customers and suppliers
Your organization is not isolated. There’s a supply chain in which any business is related to suppliers, customers, and partners. Improve your business goals by strengthening your bonds with the right suppliers and clients; it will create synergic results and mutual benefits.
Always remember to be customer oriented and center your goals to meet your customers’ needs and not your processes. You can get a new software, increase or get new machinery, or just open a new factory in a new location, but the customers are the ones deciding what and where to buy.
6. Introduce a Continuous Improvement Philosophy in your organization
An organization is not static. Customer preferences and people’s habits change, technology improves, products become obsolete. Organization adapts and readapts continuously.
The know-how, the technology, and the business processes need to be improved continuously to gain, keep, or at least not lose significant market share.
Good Manufacturing Practices have to be implemented at all levels of the organization. Every member plays a significant role: a manager will ensure that the organization has all the resources available at a reasonable cost, while a machine operator will consider manufacturing high-quality products, performing the highest Overall Equipment Effectiveness or OEE.
Quality Assurance uses methodologies and tools such as:
- PDCA or Deming Wheel,
- Lean Management,
- Kaizen Method,
- Total Quality Management.
Change documents and improve them continuously keeping all records in one place. Simplify processes encompassing your business productivity goals. For example:
- eliminate double-checks,
- eliminate unnecessary quality control,
- eliminate bureaucratic procedures.
Find the most genuine method to perform processes in an easy, simple to understand, and user-friendly way. Finally, an ERP System is a pillar that contributes to defining, improving, and sustaining your operational goals. The ERP System allows organizations to share information, communicate effectively and improve manufacturing practices.