Quality Re-Imagined blog series Part 3: Re-Imagine Where Quality Can Lead You

Welcome to part three of the Quality Re-Imagined blog series. In part one, Transform Quality—and Your Business—with the Excellence Loop, from InfinityQS COO Doug Fair, we looked at the Excellence Loop and the importance of enterprise visibility to gain insights into your operations that can transform your business. In part two, The Quality Conundrum, we looked at what I call the biggest challenge to manufacturing quality—changing your mindset from “problem” to “opportunity.” Here, in our third and final installment to this series, let’s look closely at where that change in your quality mindset can lead you…to measurable results.
Shop Floor

Make the Move from Problem to Solution

It’s time to stop thinking of quality as a final checkbox to be marked. Start envisioning the true value of the quality-related data that is available across your enterprise. Reduce waste, streamline audits, optimize processes, impress customers, and improve competitive strategies—all by re-imagining the role of quality in your business.
 
As we mentioned in part two of this blog series, the answer to the quality “problem” is to stop thinking of it as a problem. Too often, quality-related data is scribbled down on paper forms, stashed in spreadsheets, and ends up gathering dust in filing cabinets or siloed in databases or file servers across your organization. But with the right approach—and the right tools from InfinityQS—you can use that data to not only improve your products and boost operational performance, but to transform your business into an industry leader.
 

It’s Time to Re-imagine Quality

When your organization re-imagines quality, quality management becomes an ongoing, transformative opportunity for the whole enterprise. You begin to do more than just collect and respond to data. You can mine your supply chain, production lines, and more for actionable insights that spark continuous improvement—not just for one product, but across entire lines, sites, regions, and operations.
Re-Imagine Quality 
Where does this process start? You’ll want to consider a quality management solution that can help you do more than just check quality data for problems. When evaluating options, look for the following functionality:

Go Digital

First, you need a solution that can work with your existing infrastructure to pull in quality data directly from your processing lines and equipment. Ditch the paper checklists—and the human error that often accompanies them. Manual entry is susceptible to mistakes driven by fatigue, distraction, or a desire to impress management. Plus, manually recorded data means added time for re-entry into databases or reporting systems.
 
And this doesn’t even touch on the problem of retrieving the manually collected data when you need it. Neither paper nor spreadsheets should be used to collect data on the shop floor. Neither of these solutions will give you the information you need. What you need is a quality management solution that can get you the reports you want in seconds. It’s time to throw away the paper and move into the digital age.

Look for Extensive, Targeted Functionality, Off-the-Shelf

You might think that the free “bolt-on” quality features that come with some Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions or measurement systems are a good deal. But such systems are far from robust and can hamstring manufacturers.
Quality Control 
Brad Forrest, a colleague here at InfinityQS, discusses just this topic in his recent blog, One Size Does Not Fit All, which in essence says this: “When it comes to using an ERP software system to meet your quality needs, one size does not fit all. Your quality team needs a ‘best of breed’ solution, not some add-on quality module that just won't do what they want.”
 
He goes on to give us a nice laundry list of some of the more important items that a “panacea” like an ERP system does NOT include:
  • A friendly, intuitive interface for the production floor personnel – let’s face it, for a large do-it-all system, anything “quality” related is just an add-on
  • Inspection points (keeping track of inspections)
  • Control charts and analysis tools (InfinityQS’ specialty—right in our wheel-house)
  • Reports – difficulties with pulling data and converting data (if you can even find the data in the big all-in-one systems, and many times it requires help from the IT team), as compared to easy-to-generate reports (InfinityQS)
  • IT support – the “big answer/one size fits all” options need quite a bit of IT support; InfinityQS quality systems do not
What you want to do is invest in an established quality management system—like the ones we offer here at InfinityQS—to get the best functionality from proven, experienced quality experts who specialize in and understand quality. Our systems deliver extensive, configurable features off the shelf; custom coding (like those associated with “bolt-ons”) costs more up front and eats up more cash in upgrades and support.

Stay Flexible

The ideal quality management solution gives you the flexibility to determine which types of information to accumulate, how often, and at which level of granularity. Your solution should provide a method for establishing parameters—and for alerting and notification when quality strays outside those boundaries.
 
Data CollectionAs my colleague, Eric Weisbrod, notes in his Data Collection blog series, “Notifications are generated [in Enact®, the InfinityQS cloud-native manufacturing quality management solution] so users know right now if there is an issue and adjust the process before making any non-conforming product. This is how you can prevent costly product holds or, even worse, potential recalls.”
 
You need to make sure that the quality management system you use can collect the kind of data that is important to your organization, in a way that works for your operators. In addition to collecting the data in real time, the system should store that data for use in strategic decision making.

Unify Data

Speaking of storage, a “must-have” in today’s manufacturing environment is a quality management solution that provides a central, unified data repository. That’s what we offer here at InfinityQS. Too often, manufacturers collect data only to find it siloed, non-standardized, and difficult to integrate.
 
In Doug’s blog, SPC: Hunting the Big Picture and the Big Payoff, he talks about the importance of having all your data in a single place and, hence, the ability to “roll-up” that data:
The way to get the big picture view of your organization is with data aggregation. Data aggregation is rolling up data across your manufacturing enterprise and uncovering where the greatest opportunities exist for reducing waste, reducing costs, and improving quality. This is how you get a huge return on your SPC investment.”
 
Big PictureCentralized storage and reporting provide the means to get that all-important “big picture view” of what’s happening across time and across shifts, lines, and sites—even when those sites are in different regions or spread out across the globe.

Simplify and Save

Naturally, any quality management solution should be efficient to deploy and easy to operate. You need a solution that doesn’t demand additional expenditures to upgrade your legacy systems, meet a steep learning curve, access “premium” functionality, or scale out as your implementation—or available technology—advances. Watch out for systems that offer fast, inexpensive deployments but then require you to redo your work over and over again or buy new add-ons any time you want to add functionality or product numbers. (Sound familiar—again, that’s the problem with “bolt-on” solutions in a nutshell.)

Standardize and Customize

Advanced reporting and configuration capabilities are important for reaping full benefits from your quality transformation. Standardized options save time and resources. Yet the quality management solution that you use should also be configurable to meet your reporting needs and customer demands.
 
With these capabilities, you move beyond a reactionary mindset and into a proactive quality approach. The result is a unified organization, focused on the combination of product quality, time to market, and profitability—that’s the hallmark of an organization that uses InfinityQS products and solutions.
 

Get Excited About Quality

Of course, humans are naturally resistant to change. Implementing a new quality management system—especially one that can promote such drastic transformation on an enterprise scale—can meet some initial resistance.
 
One solution is to start small—on one line or a single product—while involving your site’s operators, managers, and engineers. In Eric’s blog, The Ideal Enact Software Deployment, he suggests, “Pick a specific production line, or family of products, something small that you know needs attention. Many people focus on just collecting data. And they don’t start small. They try to build out their data collection across everything.” This doesn’t work. Folks often then have to go back and rework many of those data collections.
Data Analysis 
You need to alter your focus a bit—away from just data collection. “Think about the key result you’re trying to achieve. A meaningful result that improves your products and your business. Things like reducing scrap, rework, giveaway, and defects can have a quick, significant impact. The point here is not to avoid collecting data; it’s to collect the right data.”
 

Resistance Will Fade

When your team members experience the results of automating measurement-device outputs, efficiently grouping and ordering tests, and transitioning from paper to electronic data entry—and see how they can free up time for other, less tedious tasks and deliver results at an exponentially faster rate—you might find operators and supervisors queuing up to be next in line for deployment.
 
With the right quality management solution, your efforts to re-imagine quality—across one process, one site, or your entire enterprise—open up an infinity of possibilities. Improve your process. Increase efficiency. Impress customers. And don’t break the bank in the process. It’s all possible. You just need to re-imagine it.
 

Measurable Results

InfinityQS has helped hundreds of companies around the globe fundamentally improve their manufacturing processes. Our clients report significant reductions in their costliest metrics:
Measurable Results 
Those are results you can take to the bank. Quality re-imagined.
 
 
Thanks for joining us for this blog; if you haven't already, please read the other two blogs in this series:  
 
Take advantage of the technology at your fingertips today: contact one of our account managers (1.800.772.7978 or via our website) for more information.
 
Steve Wise
By Steve Wise
Vice President of Statistical Methods
See Full Bio

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOG

Never miss a post. Sign up to receive a weekly roundup of the latest Quality Check blogs.