Mastering Quality Management

Elevate the role of quality in manufacturing to optimize processes, productivity, and profits.

What Is Quality Management?
And What Could It Be?

Every manufacturing organization strives for quality. But most focus only on historical performance or catch in-the-moment issues.

More advanced—and more effective—manufacturers use quality management to improve overall key performance measures, not just isolated metrics in a product series or a production line. They extend a quality discipline throughout the organization—and apply quality data to higher-level decision making.

By using quality data in a strategic way, leading manufacturers maximize quality while meeting business objectives, such as reducing scrap and waste and increasing revenue.

How is that possible? How do manufacturing organizations turn thousands of data points and control charts into actionable information that operators, plant floor managers, and executives can all act on? 

Top quality management organizations collect, analyze, and report on quality data differently. This guide walks you through new ways to think about quality management—and helps you see how transforming your approach to quality can be the foundation for a larger digital transformation. 

The way you look at data can elevate quality across your organization. 

Have you mastered quality management? 

If quality data isn’t core to your corporate strategy, it’s time for you to re-imagine the role of quality in manufacturing. 

At King & Prince Seafood, we are capable of making high-quality products, day in and day out, and InfinityQS ensures that we can.

"Are we capable of making high-quality products, day in and day out? InfinityQS ensures that we are."


— Tracy McConnell, Vice President of Technical Services
King & Prince Seafood

Transform Your Approach to Quality Management

Quality management and checklists seem to go hand in hand. But the two aren’t synonymous. Inspections and checklists can’t drive meaningful, enterprise-wide quality improvements. 

What is quality management in today’s manufacturing environment?It’s time for manufacturers to move away from practicing quality management—and start mastering it. Mastering quality management means focusing on higher-level strategic goals that can be achieved through quality—such as reducing waste or lowering costs—rather than only day-to-day compliance metrics.

Think of it this way: Efficiency is a great goal, but it’s really just a means to an end. You strive for efficiency so that you have more time, material, and resources to get other, more important things done. 

Likewise, quality management processes and tools can be used to address bigger-picture, strategic goals—while still meeting detailed customer specifications and compliance metrics. The exact same data and quality management tools that drive tactical, plant-floor-level improvements can be applied toward strategic outcomes. 

You have to think about quality management differently. It starts with data. 

On the plant floor, quality management centers on how data is gathered, calculated, maintained, and documented. Operators use real-time data to address issues that are immediate or urgent. Then, the data is forgotten. There’s little time for analysis. And “what-if” testing is typically a “no go.” 

For most manufacturing organizations, quality management means managing metrics and controlling quality, but not necessarily improving or optimizing processes. Quality data is greatly underutilized—which means opportunities are missed.

There is a better way. Instead of collecting and forgetting your quality data, you can centralize it in a unified repository so it’s accessible for deeper analyses. Notifications, alerts, and calculations can be standardized and automated, making the data more accurate and reliable across sites. And by looking at uniform data across the organization, you can spot and address trends to achieve a greater impact.

When you extrapolate insights from your quality data—across your organization—the value of the data expands. With the right mindset, the quality data you’re collecting today can do more for your organization tomorrow. 

Learn how to make the shift toward strategic quality management.

Elevating the Importance of Quality Control in Manufacturing

Quality practices are essential for compliance with regulatory and customer requirements. But traditionally, they’ve returned little value to the organization beyond “checking the box.” Quality control has been essential in manufacturing—but not necessarily influential.

What happens when you elevate the importance of quality? 
Learn more
 
What happens when you elevate the importance of quality?

Digital Transformation in Manufacturing: The Role of Quality

Manufacturers know it’s important to modernize equipment and tools. But if they’re not investing in the supporting processes and data that feed continuous improvement, then they’re not maximizing their investments.

How does quality data provide your gateway to digital transformation? 
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How does quality data provide your gateway to digital transformation?

Quality Management Principles to Build Your Discipline

Caring about quality is nice—but it doesn’t help you achieve meaningful goals that improve products, performance, or profit. To do that, you need to establish standards—quality principles—across your organization.

How do you embed quality principles into your company culture?
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How do you embed quality principles into your company culture?

How to Choose Quality Metrics for Quality Management in Manufacturing

Having enough data isn’t a problem for manufacturers; making sense of it is. A quality management discipline standardizes data practices, so leaders have access to data when they need it—and have confidence in the quality of that data.

What can your quality metrics tell you about your manufacturing operations?
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What can your quality metrics tell you about your manufacturing operations?

How to Sell Your Quality Management Plan: Make the Case

Investments in quality far outweigh the costs of mistakes, inefficiency, and waste. And modern quality management tools build accountability, engagement, and quality into everyday work tasks. When you give workers the best tools for the job, the benefits add up.

How will you demonstrate the way to lower the cost of quality?
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How will you demonstrate the way to lower the cost of quality?

How to Choose a Manufacturing Quality Platform

To optimize manufacturing production operations you must have access to your quality and process data in digital form. A well-designed quality platform can fuel a digital transformation for your entire manufacturing ecosystem. 

What do you need to know when choosing a manufacturing quality platform?
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What do you need to know when choosing a Quality Intelligence platform?

Have You Mastered Quality Management?

FREE to start. Easy to expand.

An industry first, our free Enact subscription empowers you to quickly realize the benefits of digital data collection and analysis. Start for free with:

  • Two Enact licenses: no strings attached
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  • Flexible expansion: reconfigure your free licenses, add licenses, integrate with other manufacturing systems, and move to automated data collection—at any time
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Quality Management Is More Than a Checklist

Here’s some good news: You can improve quality using the same tools you rely on to keep production lines moving today. Both tactical and strategic approaches to quality management use a common methodology: Statistical Process Control (SPC).

The trick is to embrace SPC across the entire enterprise—and with the same discipline that’s applied on the plant floor. When you leverage modern, digital quality management solutions to create a comprehensive quality management discipline, it’s possible to optimize all of your manufacturing operations. Digital access to data empowers you to address quality across your enterprise: supplier and materials management, production, quality checks, packaging, and shipping. Digital tools enable your people, processes, and technology to come together.

Empowering People to Take Meaningful Action

Quality isn’t a one-person or even a one-department job; every level of the organization has a role in advancing quality. With access to the right information, each person is empowered to take the right actions at the right times.
Quality Professionals
They are responsible for day-to-day quality control issues. Data collected on the plant floor informs bigger-picture quality issues and opportunities. To affect quality overall, plant floor operators and quality leaders need technology-enabled tools—such as tablets and other smart devices—so they can accurately and efficiently record quality data and control variance across shifts, products, and lines.

Plant managers
They need a practical way to monitor and prioritize site- and line-level issues—without getting lost in spreadsheets. Most SPC tools have limited reporting capabilities, often relying on managers to retrieve, format, and compare data, and then hunt for conclusions. Different managers might arrive at different quality conclusions, priorities, and actions. An enterprise-wide SPC tool can bring pertinent information to the forefront by using automation to prompt actions based on rules and workflows—rather than leaving users to rely on “gut feelings.” 

Corporate leaders
They can elevate quality across the company by applying site-level best practices across the enterprise—if they can see them. With access to quality data from across the organization, executives can find and address improvement opportunities that will make the greatest impact. When viewed across the business, quality data guides decisions about resources, improvement projects, and future investment. 

Optimizing Processes Consistently Across the Enterprise

Quality management practices have to be in sync, line by line and plant by plant. Otherwise, data and performance metrics aren’t reliable or replicable.

Manufacturing is improved when companies use a standardized, enterprise-wide, technology-enabled process to collect, store, and analyze quality data. A unified approach helps manufacturers realize more value at every step in the quality management process.
During data collection, a digital quality management platform can prevent: 
  • Incorrect or outdated forms from being used on the plant floor
  • Errors from handwritten, misread, or miscalculated quality data 
  • Incomplete or inconsistent data collection across shifts, products, lines, or locations

Manufacturing companies that use an enterprise SPC solution can avoid: 
  • Data becoming lost or inaccessible to decision makers  
  • Having to juggle spreadsheets or manipulate data to make it useful 
  • Catching violations, variation, or other issues too late 

During reporting, companies using digital solutions can: 
  • Access quality information at any time—no matter where they’re working
  • Easily compare KPIs across sites in simple-to-read charts, graphs, and reports
  • Trace quality processes back to any point in time, and view detailed information about raw materials, shifts and operators, specific lines, and equipment 

Using Technology To Bring It All Together

People and processes connect through technology. Picking the right quality platform is foundational to mastering quality management.
The right technology platform for your quality management practice:
  • Lowers the risk of error caused by miscalculations and data gaps 
  • Consolidates data from multiple sources (e.g., equipment, lines, locations) and from across the entire organization
  • Automates essential reporting activities and interventions
  • Gives users the information they need to do their jobs, when and where they need it
  • Helps users and managers dig into root cause, draw comparisons, and spot emerging trends
  • Supports good decision making based on accurate and complete information 
  • Increases real-time visibility into all of your operations 

That’s not a pie-in-the-sky wish list. With the advantage of cloud computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models, a robust quality platform is within reach of most manufacturers. 

An investment in digital quality management is your gateway to greater digital transformation.

Turning Quality Data into Actionable Insights

When you bring people, processes, and technology together to manage quality, you collect more than just data points. The data begins to tell a bigger story—providing prescriptive insights about how to improve quality.

What is Actionable Quality Data?

Quality data analysis enables quality professionals and corporate leaders to spot meaning in their data. With a quality platform, instead of sifting through sifting through dozens of charts or raw data—hoping to see a pattern—you can immediately detect what’s hidden in that data. 

Behind the dashboard, the software consumes and processes volumes of statistical data points—and issues of greatest importance rise to the top. That information is presented in an intuitive, graphical way that helps leaders ask the right questions—and take the right actions.

The Essential Role of a Quality Platform

Manufacturers need software solutions that provide instant, easy access to actionable data—especially as the speed and complexity of operations increase. Clipboards and spreadsheets can’t keep up. 

Digital transformation is a necessity—not a nice-to-have.
Organizations have options about how they transform their quality management practices. 
  • You can leverage single-function solutions to simply digitize manual processes. 
  • Or you can leverage a more capable solution to enable total manufacturing optimization. 

The second approach is more ambitious—and possibly more challenging. But it also offers a much bigger bang for the investment—and produces measurable ROI across the business.

What’s the difference?
Manufacturing optimization builds a framework for reaching more impactful, strategic goals. In a modern quality platform, all your quality data is stored in a purpose-built, centralized data repository. That allows you to coordinate sustainable and meaningful quality management practices across the organization.

Quality platforms improve products and manufacturing processes by ensuring SPC data is always compliant, prioritized, and applied.
  • Data collection is more complete, consistent, and efficient when it’s managed digitally through an integrated SPC platform.
  • Process models and other visual representations help you use quality information more intelligently. 
  • Standardized formats and dashboards speed up line-level decisions, while executive-level views offer the ability to see past gaps or blind spots. 
  • A consistent and centralized approach to data allows for deeper analysis—and more accurate decision making. When reporting is automated, managers spend more of their time analyzing and acting on insights than focusing on organizing spreadsheets and charts.
  • A quality platform enables you to extract more value from the SPC data you’re already collecting. Quality data can be accessed in real time—and benchmarked over time. By looking at enterprise-wide SPC data, you quickly expose underperforming processes and root causes.

Data that is integrated and accessible has more value to the organization—and to related systems and processes. With an integrated quality management platform, you can continuously investigate and improve quality.

Ready for Digital Transformation?


Manual data management methods are time-consuming, frustrating, and vulnerable to inaccuracies.

In the free white paper, Moving Away from Manual Processes, you can learn how to use affordable, real-time SPC software and modern techniques to implement more effective approaches.

Download the White Paper

What Does a Quality Platform Look Like in Action? 

Consider these practical ways a quality platform helps manufacturers work smarter. 

Compliance 

Quality engineers spend much of their time creating and checking charts to make sure product quality compliance requirements are being met. They’re asking: is data in spec? Are SPC rules being met? Is the right data being collected on time, every time?

With a quality platform, those questions are answered automatically. Managers are notified of issues and can take corrective actions quickly—then refocus their attention to higher-value problems.

Prioritizing Quality Improvements

Managers and quality engineers often spend more time collecting and formatting data than analyzing or applying it. Since they look only at granular data—at the site or line level—it’s hard to measure the magnitude of a problem. Plus, it’s easy to get sidetracked by proverbial “squeaky wheels.” At the corporate level, quality data is often inconsistent or incomplete from site to site.

With a digital quality platform, data from multiple plants and timeframes can be pulled together, benchmarked, and prioritized. Enterprise-wide SPC solutions create “report cards” of quality data that are easy to understand and share—so you can clearly prioritize the biggest risks and opportunities. Managers along the chain of command can see quality data and prioritize company-wide responses.

Exploiting Software

Many operators spend their time reviewing control charts—even digging into data to verify that it is correct. With more data and charts, it’s easy for operators to become overwhelmed or focus on the wrong charts. And do the charts really matter? A visual might be affirming, but it could also be a distraction.

A quality platform reduces complexity by creating reports and control charts automatically, then displaying information tailored to user roles. The software does the mundane repetitive tasks, like looking for violations, and alerts the right people (e.g., an operator or line leader) to fix the issue. That prevents people from looking for problems or correcting anticipated issues instead of actual, statistically confirmed problems.

Strategic Applications

In an effort to stay within compliance, every organization collects quality data. Most manufacturing organizations apply it tactically to measure and maintain quality—and that’s it. Quality data is then filed away, sometimes literally in filing cabinets, where it sits until an auditor or customer requests documentation. Then, the data is painstakingly retrieved, lacking all context.

With a quality platform, manufacturers can use quality management data to add value and advance strategic initiatives. Quality data never stands alone. It’s integrated with other information—such as supplier data and machine settings—and can be applied through a number of tools to benefit different users’ needs. When an organization’s quality tools and data are completely unified, the underlying intelligence becomes more powerful for the entire organization.

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