Quality control is, alongside production planning, one of the most important processes in your factory regarding reducing waste and maximising output, customer satisfaction, and profitability.
So why do so many companies get such a crucial part of their processes wrong?
We’ll take a look at that —and much more!— in this blog. Today, we’ll be covering:
- What is quality control in manufacturing?
- Quality control vs quality assurance
- Quality control process
- Quality control software for manufacturing
- mlean & quality control
What is quality control in manufacturing?
Quality control is a fundamental part of successful manufacturing.
Factories implement quality control processes to ensure their products meet their quality standards and take corrective actions if these standards are not met.
Ultimately, quality control processes are in place to guarantee whatever is been manufactured is of the highest quality, which translates into greater rates of customer satisfaction, improved manufacturing processes, and increased profitability.
Quality control vs quality assurance
Sometimes, quality control can be mistaken for quality assurance. While both these processes seek the same goal —to ensure optimum product quality— their nature couldn’t be more different.
Quality assurance is a process that takes place before quality control. The reason for this is quite simple: quality assurance seeks to proactively avoid any quality issues before they even happen, taking place alongside the development process.
On the other hand, quality control happens after the product has been developed, and its focus is reactive: it looks for faults in the quality of products which have already been manufactured, so it takes place after the development process.
Both processes are different sides of the same coin, but each uses a complementary approach to ensuring product quality and problem-solving.
Quality control process
Each factory is different, and so are their quality control processes.
What we do know is that a robust quality control process needs to be in place to ensure that you’re not wasting any resources and that you’re customers are happy with your products consistently.
You should also follow these 3 steps to make sure your quality control process is as effective as possible:
Set your quality standards ― If you don’t set clear quality standards and communicate them clearly throughout the production chain, you’re at risk of getting recurrent quality issues because of the lack of clear standards.
Implement operational procedures ― Once you set clear quality standards, you need to establish and implement the best operational procedures to hit those standards consistently.
Review your results and identify gaps ― As with any other continuous improvement method, quality control requires, well, continuous improvement measures. This means you need to constantly review your results and identify any areas for improvement within your procedures.
Bonus track: get feedback ― Feedback from employees and customers alike will be your best ally to improve your processes quickly and strategically. Their feedback is very important internally and externally, so get as much feedback as you can and act on it.
After all this is done, and whatever process your factory uses to ensure the quality of your manufacturing, there are two main approaches to this that should always be considered: QRQC and QC story.
Let’s take a look at both!
Quick Response Quality Control is a problem-solving methodology commonly regarded as the fastest, most effective approach to ensure quality and fix issues throughout the production chain.
The main goal of the QRQC is to keep customers happy by taking whatever steps necessary to ensure high manufacturing quality.
It works by following 4 simple steps. If implemented correctly, QRQC is a great tool to protect your customers quickly and effectively should any quality issue be around at any point of the production chain, and it also strengthens your teams’ problem-solving and collaboration skills.
QC story is part of the broader Total Quality Control (TQC) movement, and its main goal is to embrace a systematic problem-solving approach to help manufacturers identify, analyse, and correct any quality issues.
This method follows a very structured approach to problem-solving, with 8 steps to follow that ensure no resources are being wasted, and everybody knows what to do and when.
Both QRQC and QC Story are methodologies to ensure proper quality control in your factory, and they’re at their most effective when they come included in lean manufacturing software (like our mPS).
Quality control software for manufacturing
There are many different types of software that deal with quality control and quality assurance for manufacturing.
We’ve made a list of the must-have for these platforms to be really effective and work for you the way you need them to.
Let’s take a look!
You definitely need a software that helps you standardise your processes or, if you already have standards in place, to improve those processes.
When your plant has a robust set of standards in place, you’ll be able to get products adhering to your quality standards, which translates into happier customers and a great competitive advantage.
Some of the tools we offer for standardisation are:
- 5S Workshop — Having a clearly defined 5S culture increases product quality and productivity, and it works even better if it connects all workers throughout your factory, as our software does
- Visual Standard — Being able to see any standard (safety, quality, production) in real-time on a device saves time, drives production, and ensures that the quality is in line with the standard set
- Skill Matrix — A great way to avoid poor quality is to assign tasks depending on your employee’s skills. With this module, you can see in real-time the level of skill each worker has, and then deploy them accordingly
- Standard Work Audit — Nothing like audits to make sure everything works fine, or where to focus your teams’ efforts! Our module has all the tools you need to carry these audits out successfully, boosting quality and productivity
- iKaizen — Our module helps you detect any lack of productivity and correct it by adjusting your processes, impacting safety, quality, and profitability
To make sure everything works according to plan, you need to maintain the processes you already put in place.
This ensures your quality standards are met, your processes are always up-to-date, and your productivity and profitability increase.
We have a TPM (Total Preventive Maintenance) module to help you maintain your standards in every line throughout your whole organisation while connecting everybody to the processes in place, latest changes, and more.
Shop floor management
Quality doesn’t just come from standardised processes.
Good shop floor management is key to ensuring the quality of your products is up to scratch, and that you’re not wasting any resources.
When your shop floor isn’t managed properly, you lose visibility into processes that might affect quality and production; your team doesn’t feel motivated, and your problem-solving skills get compromised.
As well as tools for standardisation and maintenance, our software also includes modules for shop floor management, such as:
- Routines — Clear routines help you avoid unexpected issues, and our software helps you set specific routines throughout your whole organisation
- Gemba Walk — This tool is great for anticipating and correcting problems, as well as for improving your teams’ problem-solving skills and ensuring quality is always maintained
- SFM — A multi-level visual display with all the KPIs and their current state, available for all the relevant people to check and update, and designed to give you 360 visibility into your shop floor processes, evolution, and performance
Start of production
Before starting your manufacturing process, you need to have the right processes in place to make sure your products aren’t going to be defective from the start.
We have a solution called OK 1st Part that helps you implement a flawless process to ensure all your products are manufactured adhering to the highest standards.
Auditing is crucial to ensure your quality standards are being met or to find any deviations you need to address ASAP.
We have a module called Master Audit, where you can keep, update, and include any audits you need to do in any part of your factory.
You can also schedule audits and check their status in real-time, as well as seeing which audits are upcoming, which ones have expired, and which ones haven’t been met.
mlean & quality control
Quality control is at the heart of your factory’s profitability and competitiveness.
High quality products command higher prices, as well as ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty.
To become truly effective, any quality control software needs to work with other processes to ensure your processes are on track to make the quality of your products outstanding.
Our mlean Production System (mPS) has all the tools you need to keep up quality throughout your organisation. Our different modules help you standardise, maintain, and manage your shop floor; optimise your start of production, and audit your processes.
We also developed an extra for our customers.
We call it improvement drivers, and they’re designed to help you make the most of our software. One of our improvement drivers, action plans, is included with your mPS subscription at no extra cost.
These drivers work as follows:
- Action plans (included)— Allows you to unify and streamline all your action plans for all your different modules, so you always know what’s going on where
- Production alerts — Create and organise production alerts specific to your processes, organise them by level, and notify relevant team members automatically
- Improvement ideas — Tailored improvement ideas specific to the different modules you choose
- Problem-solving — Use the right methodology for the right problem, boosting your teams’ problem-solving skills
- HSE risks — Risk prevention policies at everybody’s fingertips. A safer factory is possible when everybody’s connected to the right measures at the right time.
At the heart of mlean is a group of people with a passion to make factories’ processes safer, profitable, and competitive.
Our software has everything you need to ensure high-quality, employee safety, and avoid wasteful practices.
Just book a free demo today and take a look for yourself!