Welcome to the fourth entry in a blog series created just for the packaging industry. We InfinityQS quality experts have spent the last few weeks writing about total quality in your manufacturing space, about solutions to your problems, about the unique challenges you face in mastering your particular quality issues…and how we (and InfinityQS quality management software products) are here to help.\r\n \r\nFor this blog, I’ll be discussing ensuring product quality in your manufacturing operations. This general, all-purpose look at ensuring product quality—this wider view—will hopefully help further clarify the many advantages of InfinityQS quality management software solutions for you and your operations.Ensuring Product Quality is Your Top Priority\r\nProducing consistent, high-quality product is key for brand protection in the packaging industry. Naturally, therefore, key features should be monitored to ensure that your product is consistent from lot to lot, across products, across machines, and across facilities. The quality management system you employ must be easy to configure, navigate, and (above all) use. Reporting should be a breeze—for internal, customer, and auditing purposes alike, your reporting should be seamless, robust, and take just a few clicks of the mouse. Is that too much to ask? Of course not!\r\n \r\nAnd, without a doubt, your quality system should help move you and your operations out of the paper & pencil doldrums of the 20th century into the sunlight of at-your-fingertips quality assurance.\r\n \r\nData Collection, System Notifications, and Accountability\r\nInfinityQS quality software systems—Enact® and ProFicient™—shine at these very important aspects to maintaining high quality in your processes. Using the timed product checks and data collections in our software helps ensure that product quality data and process information are collected at the correct time intervals, that checks are never missed, and that checks are performed in the correct sequence.\r\n \r\nInfinityQS software automatically alerts shop floor operators every time a timed check is due. If an operator misses a timed check, our software immediately notifies the manager responsible for making certain that all timed checks get performed—and this ensures accountability. Managers also can review data collection performance across a wide range of dimensions, so they can keep track of how everyone on their shop floor is performing and formulate corrective actions that will ensure important process and quality data are being collected on time and on schedule.InfinityQS Quality Solutions Simplify Tasks\r\nInfinityQS software products were built for simplifying tasks—both on the shop floor and in the laboratory. Your operators and lab technicians are busy enough, right? Well, our systems make even the most difficult tasks simple; they support data collection from handheld data collection devices, scales, high-speed checkweighers, scanners, and virtually any device you might find in a lab or on the shop floor. Our software can even be configured to fully automate data collection—again, simplifying operators’ and lab technicians’ work.\r\n \r\nAnd, because our software helps ease data collection burdens by reminding users when checks are required, operators no longer have to remember when to collect data…and you no longer need worry if required checks have been performed (or worse, missed).\r\n \r\nFor example, just before a required metal detector challenge, our quality management software reminds the user when the data must be collected. Operators and lab techs love these reminders because they don’t have to keep looking at their watches, and they don’t have to worry about whether critical tasks have been missed. This is a great example of how our quality software ensures that your products’ quality is a top priority.Quality Checklists\r\nA strong aspect of our software is that we make things easy for your quality personnel—technicians, engineers, or whomever is entering data on the shop floor. We’ve found that checklists really keep things simple for everyone—particularly when you have new (or revolving) personnel, or constant shift changes.\r\n \r\nQuality checklists remind the user to perform specific tasks at the start or end of a shift, or during a changeover. As Eric Weisbrod, InfinityQS VP of Product Management, says in his blog, “checklists can be endless sometimes…you can see why it’s easy to forget an item. InfinityQS quality solutions Enact® and ProFicient™ take the guesswork out of checklists.”\r\n \r\nAnd it’s also important to make sure you’re performing the right checks at the right time. “When you set up a system that understands your expectations of what should be done (and when), then you can focus on dealing with the exceptions. That’s the biggest payback for using a quality solution for your checklists—you know they’re being done because you get notified when they aren’t and can look at all of your results from a centralized system.”\r\n \r\nIn summary, checklists helpensure safety, sanitation, and\/or operational effectiveness. And if you keep things simple, the better your chances of doing so.\r\n \r\nDon’t Fail an Audit\r\nThe cost of failing an audit can range from monetary fines to (sometimes extended) suspensions. The added pressure of an audit is often compounded by the fear of being unable to produce the necessary documentation to prove compliance. In the course of an audit, many people struggle to locate, compile, and present all the requested data (sometimes covering a vast time frame) within the time constraints set by the auditor. This is where our total quality management software comes in.\r\n \r\nMany companies are trying to fulfill auditing demands with outdated technology. And if you’re not up-to-date, the pain can last for days or even weeks. \r\nAs I mentioned in the Auditing blog: “Auditors ask a variety of questions, and you never know what they might want to see. In my experience, manufacturers who rely on paper and pencil systems answer auditor questions in the worst possible way: ‘Gee…that information is scattered across several systems. I think I’ve got some of it over here in this filing cabinet and I know there’s some in the quality manager’s office. The rest of it is probably in the warehouse…No wonder audits are so painful.”\r\n \r\nIn order to effectively answer the auditor’s questions, people often request extra time—hours, even days—to get their team together to figure out how to gather all the data the auditor is seeking. I go on to say:\r\n \r\n“Packaging manufacturers need to take advantage of the latest technological advances to reduce the risks they face and ensure compliance at every step of their manufacturing processes. Our quality management systems ensure compliance while offering the added benefits of cost savings, reduced waste, and improved overall product quality.”\r\n \r\nPencil & Paper vs. Quality Management System\r\nJust as you strive to make your products as quickly and precisely (and consistently) as possible, your quality management software solution needs to deliver critical information faster. It’s safe to say that your best hope for doing that is not with paper and pencil…it’s with automated (and semi-automated) data collection and proven statistical analysis tools—which is InfinityQS’ expertise. \r\nPaper and pencil and clipboards are still in use for shop floor data collection today. All the risks associated with a paper-based quality system are well-documented (like here, in the Paper & Pencil blog), so there’s no need to repeat them here, but I will say that the worst of them all is that your organization suffers monetarily for using a paper-based solution to your quality needs. Tally it up: employees, an on-site library, maybe a warehouse, and the time spent sifting through all that data when you need answers or insights—that’s an unnecessary monetary hit. Our total quality management software is the answer to ensuring your information is safe, reliable…and always readily available.Dashboards in Quality Management Software\r\nColleague Eric Weisbrod, in his blog, The Power of Dashboards in Enact, mentions that our cloud-based quality management software’s dashboards help ensure your products’ quality in a variety of ways:\r\n\r\nSaving time – everyone in manufacturing uses control charts to help them decide if or when to adjust a process; Enact dashboards do that for you, offering up timely charts that require your attention. No need to spend your time sifting through charts.Configuration – Enact dashboards are designed to be easy to setup and use; building a dashboard takes very little time—it’s all about choosing the tiles containing the data you want to view and how you want them arranged and sized.Consistency – what I’m talking about here is the consistency of analysis method, i.e., everyone uses the same metrics.Analysis – float above the details and easily make comparisons across different products, product lines, sites, or even regions with an Enact dashboard; “rather than slogging through compilations and calculations once a quarter to see how everyone is doing, isn’t it better to just keep an eye on things all the time and know how everyone is doing at all times? That’s power.”Adaptability – dashboards in Enact are “centralized,” designed as a common tool; you don’t need to build one for each user, but instead build a standard dashboard that each user can customize to their needs.\r\n \r\n\r\nReal-Time Reporting\r\nDepending on whom your reports are destined for within your organization, the contents of your reports could vary greatly. For instance, a report to executives would contain different information from what you might send to a shop floor manager at one of your facilities.\r\n \r\nAs Doug says in the white paper, Mastering Quality: “Your company can operationalize process changes only if your data experts can effectively communicate their findings. Only then can they convince the powers-that-be that proposed improvements will result in operational improvements… and make life better for everyone involved.”\r\n \r\nYour reports need to convey to upper management that the information you’re providing will dramatically improve operations. Upper management’s reports, in turn, need to include information that will enable them to get buy-in from plant personnel because those are the people who will perform the work that can potentially transform the business. We can help with both types of reporting efforts. But there’s more…\r\n \r\nOur quality solutions contain the statistical tools that will facilitate the analysis of aggregated data from multiple plants, product codes, production lines, and features, and place it all on one chart that’s easily digestible. That’s the kind of reporting power that ensures consistent product quality—and continuous improvement—in your organization.In Closing\r\nThere are a lot more things about InfinityQS total quality management software that help you ensure your products’ quality. The aforementioned aspects of our software—data collection, quality checks, alerts, and notifications; auditing; reporting; dashboards; and pulling you from the depths of pencil & paper data collection and analysis—all address quality in the packaging manufacturing space…and how we (and InfinityQS software products) are here to help you succeed.\r\n \r\nRead other blogs in this series:\r\nIntro – A Good FitAuditingPaper & PencilReducing RiskThe Challenges of Sustainable PackagingFolder-Gluers—Where We Can Help\r\n \r\nTake 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.