Nearly all manufacturers continually deal with one or more of the big three challenges: scrap, defects, and rework. If you don’t control your processes, then these problems cost you money and headaches. Despite your best efforts, sub-par products eventually get into the hands of your customers. When that happens, you may have to add recalls to the list of big challenges.
That’s why modern quality management software systems are vital to today’s manufacturers. The stakes are high, but the cost of the solution to scrap, defects, and rework (and recalls) doesn’t have to be.
Make Quality a Priority
These “perennial thorns in the side” of manufacturers are, of course, the result of not making quality a priority at your company. With so many competitors in every market segment, one of the greatest differentiators is quality. In any organization, you’ve got to deploy quality in a standardized fashion and ensure that metrics are being met and goals are being achieved.
Simply put, you’ve got to ensure maximum quality levels 24x7.
Companies that make quality a priority decrease operating costs, allowing them to either reduce prices to become more competitive, or keep pricing unchanged and reap the extra profit. When quality is mission critical, companies experience fewer failures, fewer warranty claims, increased customer loyalty…and increased sales. And of course, when companies make quality a priority, they can easily cut down on scrap, defects, rework, and (yes) recalls.
The key is having the ability to make quality work for you. Using statistical process control (SPC) via a quality management software system (like the ones we provide at InfinityQS), you have the best chance of keeping manufacturing’s demons at bay.
A quality management solution can reduce waste by helping your operations team spot critical out-of-spec dimensions. The earlier you catch such issues, the fewer wasted materials or recalled products you’ll need to deal with. InfinityQS quality management solutions provide the tools you need to catch process problems—fast.
Let’s face it: you can’t stop waste if you can’t find it. Too many companies use guesswork to figure out why product isn’t up to snuff. But with Enact®, the InfinityQS cloud-native quality management system, you can pinpoint how to reduce waste in manufacturing and significantly reduce costs throughout your operations.
Enact gives you the power to roll up aggregated and historical data across processes, products, lines, and even sites—which in turn gives you the ability to track trends and variations that lead to waste, even for processes and products that are within spec. As a result, InfinityQS customers have saved many millions of dollars by curbing waste.
For quality professionals who are making their case to management, that savings is really the key. Typically, management is much more interested in reducing waste when the result is higher profits. But without a modern solution, finding those savings is a difficult process.
The Hidden Factory
The “hidden factory” consists of the miasma of “workarounds” an organization creates—little one-off fixes (usually extra steps, or additional pieces that don’t really belong in a product) that solve this problem or that problem without correcting the real issues that operators find with processes and manufacturing lines.
But in today’s marketplace—highly competitive, tight margins, and a high price for failure—every organization needs to take a good, hard look at waste. They need to expose the hidden factory and take care of their processes. It’s the low-hanging fruit of manufacturing quality improvement.
When you test quality only at the finished product or final production stage, you can find yourself with staggering amounts of waste and scrap, in ruined product or rework time. Enact enables automatic notifications and staggered quality checks. That way, operators and quality personnel know immediately if a process, machine, or product falls out of spec—and can resolve the problem before it causes damage.
Enact enables a “big picture” view of whether processes are running smoothly or need attention. When you see trouble, it’s easy to drill down into the details of real-time alerts and operations status, for better problem solving and a faster resolution.
The main goal for inspections and samples, or inspection plans based on samples, is capturing defects before they get out the door—essentially adding bars to the huge iron doors that keep such things locked away.
Where InfinityQS quality management solutions come into play is enabling manufacturers to look “upstream” for the root causes of these problems and catching (and getting rid of) them before they rear their ugly heads.
If you can’t look upstream and figure out where things are going wrong, chances are you end up waiting until even more “value-add” is put into the product. And then, only at the last minute before you ship it out to the customer, do you throw it away or pull it from your stock. That is expensive, to say the least.
But when you manage to catch something upstream, it’s just one component you have to throw away—rather than the whole unit. But you need to know what to do when you find that defective component upstream.
Statistical methods, which are the core of our quality management software products, will help you determine where the problem is (the root cause) and what you can do about it. This is the strength of SPC.
You don’t want any defects or recalls. Period. That’s your dirty laundry. If you have defects, then you’re fighting problems within your walls, and you don’t want those escaping—at all costs.
Another bit of dirty laundry is recalls. Ouch. They tend to damage your brand and your bottom line. A defect—in general—is a small escape when compared to a recall. A recall leaves a wake of destruction in its path. And they happen all the time.
The consequences of such an exposure to the market are huge, including lost market share, goodwill, and money. Finding the root cause of a problem then becomes a very important undertaking. Organizations that fear recalls live in a constant state of balancing between the risk and the cost of fixing the inherent problems.
If you can focus on discovering root causes and eliminate the variation at the source, you can eliminate many of the added costs that creep into your production processes. These costs are usually the result of people trying to fix something quick or make the best of a deteriorating situation.
But key to all this is that your organization can’t be blind to excessive scrap, defects, or rework. Rather, you need to recognize the issues and put a quality team on the case. There’s no reason to leave money on the table by ignoring or hiding problems. Don’t be fooled: none of this is “the cost of doing business.”
For companies that recognize what their issues are and pursue intelligent fixes, the bottom line reflects their efforts.
Watch our client success story on our website and learn more about how eliminating waste—even in in-spec processes—yields dramatic savings.