The consequences of quality control errors at your manufacturing plant can be huge, potentially resulting in rework, product redesign, recalls, and dissatisfied customers. And if you’re operating in a highly regulated industry such as medical devices, automotive, or food and beverages, you also need to adhere to strict compliance guidelines.
The problem: if you’re like many mid-sized manufacturers, you may be relying on a mishmash of spreadsheets, logbooks, and disparate systems to monitor quality and compliance. This could lead to:
- An absence of quality metrics that make it tough to determine if you’re efficiently and consistently producing high quality products.
- Slow response time because quality control issues can fall between the cracks when you’re relying on a manual system (emails or file folders) to identify problems and push tasks out to the person who can remedy them.
- A lack of easily accessible info on process improvement initiatives because following up to make sure quality control problems have been remedied involves wading through various file cabinets and spreadsheets.
- Training challenges as you struggle to bring new hires up to speed on several different systems.
Automating quality management can help
When combined with the power of your ERP system, modern Quality Management Systems (QMS’s) help small to midsize manufacturers dramatically enhance efficiency by reducing resources spent on monitoring, evaluating and improving product quality. Here’s how:
- Information is consolidated on one platform. A QMS integrated with your ERP brings all of your quality management data together in a single, centralized database and makes it accessible to anyone who needs it. No more disconnected silos of information.
- Relevant information is easily available to employees. Information is tracked digitally and appears on an easy-to-read dashboard, so it is always accessible to the relevant employees.
- Cost and quality tracking is built into each step. When you’re using manual or disparate systems, it can be difficult to pinpoint where defects arise and to assess costs associated with quality management.
Ongoing quality tracking allows you to integrate data sources from across your organization, including customer complaints, supplier scorecards and inspection failures. As a result, you can quickly pinpoint the source of problems and template targeted solutions. What’s more, because you get constant access to real-time information, you’re able to swiftly assess the cost and effectiveness of interventions.
- Accountability is part of the process. It’s easy for tasks to fall between the cracks if you’re using a manual process to track quality initiatives. You send an email to someone saying, ‘We have a problem with the following. Over to you.’ But there is no structured process, workflow, accountability, or reminders. An effective QMS keeps everyone on track by allowing you to see at a glance whether you’re currently in compliance with your certifications and using a shared task list to drive collaboration and hold employees accountable for follow ups within a specified time period.
Quality becomes everyone’s responsibility
So, what does this look like in practice? Manufacturers who adopt quality management systems integrated to their ERP system experience benefits such as:
- Greater consistency of products and processes. All employees use the same industry and product-specific quality control checklists and follow templated protocols when a quality issue occurs.
- Immediate improvement. Mobile platforms, such as tablets and smart phones enable your employees to deploy quality control inspections throughout the plant. You know immediately if a part is out of tolerance, or a machine is operating out of spec. This makes it easier to pinpoint the source of failures, resulting in fewer compliance issues and faulty products.
- Everyone knows where the buck stops. When anyone detects an issue with quality, the problem is clearly flagged on a shared dashboard. Staff are rapidly notified about who is responsible and what actions they need to take to deal with the issue before electronically signing off on it.
- Clearly defined audit trail. An effective QMS provides you with an integrated view of decisions, records and audit trails and allows you to quickly locate pertinent information to support compliance, customer requests, and respond to litigation.
- Better decision making. When you have access to quality reporting and analytics on your quality control initiatives, you’re able to make better decisions, proactively make improvements to processes, and increase customer satisfaction.
QMS solutions such as uniPoint are most effective when integrated with your ERP as they provide accurate and consistent data flow across business processes. To find out more about the benefits of automating your quality management process, check out this webinar.