The idea of zero defects has long been a stated objective for many manufacturing organizations. The essential aim is to ensure your company never ships an out-of-spec product—and never has to deal with the fallout of having that sub-par product discovered by the end customer. It’s understood that reaching a zero-defect state is unrealistic, but it remains a guiding light that keeps us all focused on continuous quality improvement. And that is something we can achieve.

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Quality Control = Money

The most distinct advantage of achieving zero defects when you’re building products to customer specifications is the reduction of costs and waste.

Every defect represents a cost: inspection time, recalls and rework, lost revenue, wasted material, added labor, and (most important) customer dissatisfaction. If you can properly identify a defect, then you can measure its associated costs and create a case for investing in tools and actions that improve quality.

Thus, a zero-defect approach is a concrete way to maintain management commitment and ensure that company goals are met. (In this vein, the zero-defects approach also equates to higher customer satisfaction and improved customer loyalty—which always lead to better sales and profits.)

But perhaps the greatest cost-reduction impact of a zero-defect approach is that it enables you to eliminate waste—which in turn dramatically reduces your operational costs.

Consider the costs associated with the eight types of waste—often represented by the acronym DOWNTIME:

  1. Defects
  2. Overproduction
  3. Waiting
  4. Nonutilized talent
  5. Transportation
  6. Inventory
  7. Motion
  8. Extra processing

To eliminate all those types of waste, you must create a state of continuous improvement. And that means addressing issues at every stage of production—well before products reach the inspection stage.

Of course, you still need to inspect. It’s incorrect to assume that if fewer defects are produced, then less inspection is required. However, you can seek to implement smarter, more sophisticated, better planned testing and inspection.

Beyond Defects: Adopting a Right-First-Time Mentality

A continuous focus on quality is critical because it’s better to find a problem before the customer does. It’s better to find a defect in a process and fix it, rather than produce poor quality products for a shift, day, or week, and then sell the bad product—and hear about it on a product review site or some other critical social media review forum.

But even more important, continuous quality improvement ensures compliance.

Compliance with your product specs. Compliance with industry and regulatory standards. And compliance with the customer’s requirements.

That means going beyond the idea of zero defects—and creating a focus on getting manufacturing processes right the first time.

Making quality control a positive

A critical observation is that a zero-defects goal could lead to a scenario where your team is striving for a perfect process they simply cannot (realistically) ever meet. That can put a strain on employee motivation, morale, and even satisfaction. Success can help motivate a team, but failures can have the opposite effect.

In the end, striving for zero defects is what you might consider to be an “admirable objective.” By shifting the focus to create an environment of continuous improvement, you’re also shifting the focus to that positive, ongoing effort. Most companies find that positives outweigh negatives.

Quality Control: Inspection Is Great, Prevention Is Better

Adopting the philosophy of zero-defect quality management is a commitment that goes beyond stopping defective product from shipping. It is about preventing those defects from happening in the first place. And that means implementing quality control all the way up the production line.

It’s important to strive to meet rigorous quality standards. That kind of focus enables organizations to improve their current processes, build better processes, and optimize production operations across the board.

The approach requires your organization to willingly and honestly assess and optimize operations across processes, lines, and plants. And it requires you to be willing to adopt practical solutions to optimize all your production operations.

Consistent quality management is essential for compliance. We invite you to learn more about this essential connection—and how InfinityQS quality solutions simplify and streamline both—in our short white paper Right the First Time: Closing Your Compliance Loops.