Digital Solutions Can Help Manufacturers Reduce Errors, Improve Manufacturing Quality
Nancy Sarpolis - January 18, 2022
Who’s responsible for quality in a modern manufacturing facility? The answer is everyone—from procurement to production to distribution—with quality managers playing a leading role in helping the team recognize and mitigate defects and imperfections at all stages of the manufacturing process.
But as supply chains grow in complexity and volatility, quality managers need increasingly more robust tools to eliminate waste, reduce rework and find efficiencies to uphold consistent quality standards. Digitalization across the organization can provide greater visibility into potential quality issues and provide real-time insights for better decision-making.
Reduce errors by eliminating manual processes
Collecting data through manual processes and tracking it on spreadsheets can put an organization at risk for quality issues due to errors and inaccuracies. Unfortunately, many small and medium enterprises still rely on manual documentation captured via pen and paper methods. They’re not alone. A recent study of corporate executives shows that 55 percent use manual processes to make planning decisions, while 28 percent say that their entire decision-making process is manual and lacks any system support.
Digital solutions can automate the data collection process by capturing information directly from machines, sensors and other sources, eliminating the risk that comes with manual data entry. Quality managers can identify those machines with higher levels of rejects or breakdowns, and get a more accurate picture of the facility’s first-time quality rates. The ability to quickly access necessary data can lead to early detection of errors and ultimately improve quality.
Provide consistent, accurate documentation
Most manufacturing facilities have quality management systems to ensure that the organization is meeting established company, industry and regulatory standards as well as customer expectations. Digital tools can play an important role by monitoring processes and collecting data in real-time, providing the consistency, accuracy and documentation companies need to meet those standards—as well as internal and external audit requirements. Digitalization can also help operators do their jobs more effectively. For example, digitized standard operating procedures housed in a central datastore give workers access to the most up-to-date information they need to do their jobs and make sure processes are completed the same way by every operator, every time.
Enable continuous improvement
Identifying the root cause of a defect or quality issue often requires a bit of detective work. As manufacturing organizations become more complex, diagnosing problems from a tangle of legacy systems, siloed data, spreadsheets, workers’ institutional knowledge and other factors becomes nearly impossible for an individual—or group of individuals—to manage.
Digital technologies can provide the data and analytics needed to find the root cause of a defect or other quality issue that might otherwise remain hidden from view. From machinery failures to parts defects to human error and insufficient processes, digitalization can analyze large amounts of data in real-time, using analytics to give manufacturers the ability to address the root causes of problems—before quality issues occur.
What’s more, digital solutions enable the simulation of “what-if” business scenarios and allow users the ability to weigh advantages and disadvantages by comparing different solutions before deployment. Organizations can move from reacting to unplanned events to successfully predicting outcomes and accelerating the continuous improvement process.
See the whole picture
While organizations often have several different planning, production, and data reporting systems deployed simultaneously, a digital supply chain brings each system under the same umbrella. That’s great news for quality managers who take a holistic approach to achieving quality standards within an organization. Constant tracking and monitoring, accurate data analysis and calculations, in addition to alerts warning you of any possible interferences, keep quality managers ahead of the curve when it comes to identifying and mitigating potential quality issues.
Digitalization can be a powerful tool in the never-ending quest to reduce errors and improve manufacturing quality. Quality managers who employ digital technologies will be better equipped to lead their supply chain teams in continuous improvement efforts, adjusting and optimizing operations to prevent and respond to disruptions and ultimately, satisfy customer
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