The Modern Assembly Line and Quality Management: 100 Years Later
It has been just over 100 years since Henry Ford introduced the modern assembly line and forever changed the course of manufacturing. The combination of interchangeable parts and time-efficient processes created a system that eventually sold 15 million Model T Fords and made the automobile one of the centerpieces of American culture.
Over a century later, the modern assembly line is still the main arm of the global manufacturing industry. Ford’s model has withstood the test of time and is still proving to be an efficient process. But it’s not done evolving yet.
Quality Manufacturing = Quality Products
Today, there are still many challenges facing manufacturing executives as they work to optimize the assembly line. The majority of these problems center on the speed and accuracy of production. Manufacturing facilities need to create quality products, and they need to do so in a time- and cost-efficient manner. In order to keep the manufacturing process strong, executives must constantly innovate to reduce waste, speed up automated processes, and ensure that enterprise quality management remains unhindered. With the cost of poor quality so high today, companies have so much to gain by investing in and prioritizing quality in their assembly lines.
Statistical Process Control Software Meets Modern Needs
Most crucial to effective enterprise quality management is the ability to receive instant feedback on automated processes. Manufacturing executives cannot wait until a product is packaged and sent out to vendors in order to realize that the quality does not conform to expected standards. Now, using statistical process control (SPC) software, assembly line processes can be adjusted in a timely fashion as soon as product variation is detected, preventing future recalls, customer complaints, and other unforeseen issues in the field.
Aside from the necessity of instant feedback, today’s assembly lines require technology to meet the demands of an ever-growing mobile workforce. Manufacturing executives are constantly on the go, and need access to real-time data no matter where they are. Whether they are at a conference in Beijing or a manufacturing facility in Chicago, there is no time for latency when it comes to receiving feedback from the production line and across the enterprise. With access to SPC software via the cloud, executives can receive streamlined information directly to mobile devices such as cell phones, tablets and more. This way, important decisions can be made using quality metrics in real time.
The quality of data gathered is more valuable than the quantity. It’s not enough for machines to simply measure processes and collect metrics. Metrics do not have any value unless they are usable by manufacturers—and this is a crucial step in the process. Today’s assembly line requires software that can collect quality data and transform it into usable information, working to ensure product quality during an automated process—instead of finding out about an error after it is done.
Quality Intelligence for Enterprise Quality Management
Using quality intelligence software, manufacturers can easily generate usable information that enacts company-wide transformation. By unifying and analyzing real-time data, collected from multiple sources across the organization, in a centralized quality hub, manufacturers can create greater real-time visibility across assembly lines enterprise wide and make informed decisions about their product quality and processes.
Henry Ford’s assembly line used innovation to bring about change in the global manufacturing industry. If the industry wants to remain a competitive force over the next century, its success will depend heavily on the ability to innovate. Quality management innovation can support a manufacturer’s overall sustainability, through preventing errors, improving processes, reducing waste, and offering a competitive edge in the industry.