The automotive and aerospace industries have long been leaders in using digitalization and automation to manage and optimize manufacturing quality control. In recent years, however, other manufacturers have begun to see the value that digitization, in particular, can offer when it comes to quality control.
In this article, we are going to explain why your manual quality control procedures are letting you down and offer some insights into how digitization can help.
The best part is that digitizing and automating your quality control does not need to be complicated or represent a significant capital investment. That’s because there are innovative, yet cost-effective solutions out there that will work, almost out of the box, with your existing factory floor equipment, providing your organization with powerful insights almost immediately.
Why Manual Quality Control Checks Are Not For Good Business
While manual quality control checks, which often involve paper and/or whiteboards, are commonplace in manufacturing organizations throughout the world (and have been for decades), the bottom line is they are inefficient, inaccurate, and do not provide sufficient visibility/traceability.
Inefficient by default and prone to errors
First and foremost, manual quality control checks, by nature, are inefficient and prone to errors. In some circumstances, they can even be missed completely.
Even the most experienced and meticulous workers can make mistakes, or have an off day from time to time, but such occurrences can be costly if they result in a defective product or component slipping through the quality net.
By digitizing quality checks, manufacturers can place an element of accountability on the person responsible for carrying them out. There are clear instructions relating to what needs to be done and alerts when they need to be done, with the results visible to everyone in a timely fashion.
Add time and complexity to the onboarding process
New talent appreciates forward-thinking companies that consider innovation a high priority. Tomorrow’s manufacturing workforce is no different and does not want to be carrying out paper-based on the factory floor when digital alternatives are widely available.
With digitized quality checks, organizations not only highlight to the talent that they are forward-thinking, but they also stand to simplify aspects of their training and onboarding. That’s because digitized quality checks are inevitably more intuitive than their paper-based counterparts and require significantly less to understand in the way of training.
Non-standard and subjective
No matter how hard manufacturers try to standardize their manual quality control checks, there’s still a tendency for them to differ from facility to facility. Furthermore, manual quality checks can be quite subjective, so two individual workers may come to different conclusions about the same product.
The problem here, with different plants utilizing different quality checks, is that quality control becomes significantly more difficult from a central perspective. The potential for ambiguities is always going to be a factor that organizations need to take into account.
Lacking meaningful insights
Another enormous shortfall of manual quality control checks is that they lack meaningful insights — both real-time and after the event.
With paper- or spreadsheet-based quality checks, it can be the case that they are completed altogether at the end of a production shift. While such an arrangement might seem to work, it makes analyzing and determining the root cause of any apparent quality issues much more difficult.
Likewise, any potential trend analysis is also likely to be a lot less intuitive than it would be if the manufacturer was using digitized quality checks. That’s because logging all the quality control data in one go may remove the ability to see if quality issues arise at certain times or days of the week. Moreover, the quality team is unable to see what was happening immediately before and after a failed quality check, so they don’t have sufficient context or transparency from which to improve.
Lacking audit preparedness
The final, yet significant pitfall of manual manufacturing quality checks is that they are not the most intuitive in terms of audits.
Producing relevant quality paperwork can present a major headache for manufacturers when there are auditors in the building. Paper-based quality checks can become lost over time and lack information, which can undermine an organization’s audit efforts.
With highly respected and widely recognized accreditations, such as ISO 9001 and ISO 13485, an important piece of manufacturers’ overall quality strategies, digital checks are a must. From a quality point of view, the main benefit of digitization and automation is that it affords quick and easy access to pertinent documentation such as certificates and production data.
For example, with paperless setups, important information is accessible with a few clicks of a mouse. Moreover, critical production factors, such as calibration and non-conformance reporting, can be tracked, recorded, and recalled whenever needed for auditing purposes.
Time to Start Digitalizing and Automating Your Quality Checks
Perhaps the biggest barrier to digitalization in quality assurance for manufacturers is the perceived investment it will represent. After all, paper- and spreadsheet-based quality checks do not need significant capital investment and can be implemented/ amended with minimal disruption. Fortunately, the same is now true for some digital alternatives (such as ours).
For example, with Evocon, you will receive everything you need to set up OEE and quality monitoring on your shop floor and try it out totally free of charge. Our plug ‘n’ play system will allow you to start your Industry 4.0 journey in literally a matter of days, without a significant capital investment.
By automating quality checks, your manufacturing organization can benefit from:
- Greater accuracy
- Improved efficiency
- Standardized processes
- Valuable insights
- Root cause analysis
- Boosted sustainability credentials
- Total audit readiness
With Evocon, you can start taking advantage of digital and automated quality checks, without the capital investment or the headaches. That’s because our solution has been developed to integrate with your existing setup(s), allowing you to realize all the associated benefits quickly, easily, and cost-effectively.
Checklists – The tool to improve quality and reliability
Our Checklists offering is designed to enable you to digitize and automate various routine checks on your shop floor, including both quality and maintenance.
With data being obtained from your machines and presented in real-time, your operators can perform their relevant checks and tasks when required (not waiting until the end of a shift). This results in waste reduction and quality improvements — both of which are important competitive differentiators nowadays given that customers want to partner with companies that are seen to put quality first, as well as do their bit to help the environment.
Checklists can help:
- Reduce cost and waste — By automating checks, you will inevitably reduce the rate of rejected products, rework, and customer claims due to quality issues. This translates directly into the reduction of waste and cost, as well as boosts your reputation.
- Improve maintenance — Having access to real-time data allows you to schedule preventive maintenance checks based on the actual usage of machines and according to events that happen on the production floor.
- Traceability of information — Automated checks can also be used to implement traceability procedures. This gives you real-time visibility into operations and increases accountability and engagement on the shop floor.