What should manufacturers consider when it comes to improving their quality control processes?
Traditionally manufacturers have left quality control until the end of the production process. They’ll inspect what they’ve made and if there are faults, they’ll look for a way to rectify those in the next run. But is this really the most efficient way to maintain the required levels of quality control?
According to the conversations we’re now having with our manufacturing clients, probably not!
Aside from the obvious cost implications (costs that will have to be passed on to the buyer which will eventually have an impact on how competitive those buyers will find your pricing and therefore your repeat purchase rates) working that way round also raises serious question marks as to the efficiency of your manufacturing model. We are now seeing many manufacturers tweaking their quality control processes by introducing new processes and technologies that allow them to spot and remedy flaws during rather than after production.
If you are looking to make a similar change to the quality control element within your manufacturing processes these are the key issues we’d suggest you may want to consider:
1. Have a standard spec for your products
Before you can design the right quality control (QC) process, you need to have a set of standard spec to work to; you won’t be able to run batch after batch at a consistent level of quality if everyone involved doesn’t know the exact properties of every finished product.
2. Have a standard QC process
Put together a document that shows exactly who will inspect which part of your production process and how and when they will undertake those inspections. Your plan should really involve people at every level given they perform very different but equally vital roles and everyone involved should be fully trained to spot and report potential anomalies.
3. Have a means of measuring progress
The technology available to manufacturers today allows you to measure even the most sensitive of variables. Over time you will have access to an accurate series of data that will not only show you the progress you have made towards achieving a consistent level of quality but also where you need to improve and adapt your quality control processes in the future.
4. Have a standard way to respond to issues
Make sure people know when they need to declare a batch to be sub-standard and, just as importantly, who they need to tell and how they need to pass the message on. This step is absolutely key to your success; if you don’t have this in place, you will not know about defects quickly enough so won’t be able to take the required action and that will void the time and effort you’ve invested to implement the preceding 3 steps.
While we appreciate refining your quality control procedures may seem like yet another thing to do, in our experience successfully tackling the 4 steps outlined above will have a positive (not to mention short-term) effect on your profitability by reducing wasted time and materials and increasing customer satisfaction and, by extension, loyalty.
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