Thinking big in terms of quality is the goal. Rather than the days of old where quality just meant inspection, not in real time and not easily accessible, today the concept of quality has moved beyond this concept.

Preventative quality is much more the target. And with that comes a search for better data. Dysfunctional data, or data that isn’t helping you, won’t bring your quality to the next level. What will help is using data to make better decisions and thus transform your organization.

You obviously don’t want data that is incomplete, inconsistent, isolated or inefficient. It’s time to kick that old habit of collecting data just for the sake of collecting it. Rather, turn to actionable intelligence.

When you gather information for a specific purpose—how is that line running on the third shift?—you are able to actually make use of the data. Which, of course, is the whole purpose of getting the information in the first place. Once you know that the third shift has some machine maintenance issues cropping up, you can resolve them faster instead of just letting them continue and cause problems down the road.

This approach allows you to take a new look at quality data and discover the secrets to reducing risk and waste. In many cases, this requires a change in perspective.

If you want the view from 30,000 feet, you will have a better idea of what is happening. Thinking of making decisions without this kind of insight. You would miss so much. And so, too, would your customers.

Quality assurance may look a lot different from when you entered the field. No longer are you using pencils and graph paper to uncover problems in the manufacturing process. While this was a straightforward way of handling things, it had limitations. Defects could be missed, and with the lag time, it would be possible to produce a high number of parts after a problem occurred and was found. I think we can agree that staying up to date, from anywhere, is an advantage over the old ways of doing things. Today manufacturers are able to use statistical process control in the cloud. This approach puts the organization in a position to improve quality. And it goes without saying that higher quality goes hand in hand with customer satisfaction.

Reducing risk, lowering cost, and of course, improving product quality, are important goals but they can be difficult to achieve. But even if this seems daunting, manufacturers can take steps in this direction.

Having the right tools can help reduce scrap and waste, maintain compliance, and improve quality. One such tool is SPC software. It allows companies to collect data in real time and take immediate action. The days of waiting for a problem to present itself hours later are over. Last year Frost & Sullivan recognized InfinityQS with the North American Product Leadership Award for its cloud-native quality intelligence platform, Enact. 

"Enact helps companies aggregate and analyze quality data from all production processes in a single standardized format. Organizations can look at the data from a site, regional, consolidated site, or division level, even all the way up to the corporate level," said Sankara Narayanan, Senior Industry Analyst. "Important components of Enact's enterprise design that enables this visibility and intelligence include its centralized engine and unified data repository. This centralized engine connects every site to the same, singular database in Microsoft Azure to allow an organization to standardize across many sites and achieve consistency."

In other words, this database allows your company to have access to the same data no matter which location you are in. (Or even if you are working from home, something many people are becoming familiar with this year.) Decisions about that data are easier to make when everyone is looking at the same information, from the production floor to the boardroom.

No matter which tool you use, know that you have options in your fight for better quality. It makes your work easier and also helps your customers. Dealing with customer complaints doesn’t have to be part of your work.

Quality management can be done better. Whether your organization is pursuing a digital transformation or just trying to get a better handle on the many streams of data you are generating, solutions are out there.

If you’re working in quality today that means it’s now possible—and easy—to gain knowledge, understanding and visibility into your data. Working in the dark isn’t helping your organization. It might be time to bring some clarity into your work.