How to apply and optimise quality control
Spread a culture of quality in all phases of production and testing
It is often hard to compare the real amount of quality control tasks versus the vast sort of benefits it can bring to a company or a corporation. In some cases, companies’ boards presume that quality control is a huge job, difficult to manage and potentially cause of lengthy and continuative investments.
Actually, quality control is already effective by just adopting easy tools and targeted interventions that are capable of improving the process, reputation and productiveness of any kind of business by adopting a few, easy steps. Let’s see which ones:
As always happens, the earlier step is essential also in quality control.
Your primary task is to define what quality means for your business. It can be linked to your reputation with customers, the softness of your sponge cake or the resistance of the safety boots you produce, for example.
The first thing to do is to find out which attributes describe your concept of quality in relation to the product or service you bring to market.
During this early phase, you are laying the foundations for continuous control, defining which points of the production process, from conception to consumption, you believe are primary and therefore must be verified and constantly improved.
In these times, we have many tools at our disposal capable of digitising the entire verification process and developed to change quality control into an affordable, immediate and multidisciplinary activity.
Go digital and exploit data
In the “analog world”, adapting your definition of quality into a set of measurable KPIs through constant and correct input of data was indeed a high time spending, expensive and sometimes unreliable activity.
In the digital world, all that has changed. Today, resources and tools are available – sometimes even for free – and are capable of making quality control accessible, immediate and endless with a negligible margin of error.
Digital data does not fade, is not destroyed or lost, all properties instead of paper which, in addition to being a cost for the environment and for the company, made quality control difficult and approximate.
Digitising all company documentation is therefore essential to convert simple signs or numbers into a set of data capable of identifying, correcting and even predicting problems or non-conformities.
Identify key processes
Once you’ve defined your quality KPIs and embraced document digitization, it’s time to define your key processes.
A simple fishbone diagram can help you visualise any kind of process and easily identify production KPIs. Add these indicators to the first and you will obtain an exhaustive list of all the activities that need to be monitored. So, you will be able to determine the frequency of checks and maintenance based on concrete data and consistent expectations.
For this purpose, you will have to develop checklists, which modern digital systems are able to elaborate autonomously.
Furthermore, the definition of processes makes it possible to streamline procedures and identify dedicated resources for each task. Also in this step, the use of technology, such as software or an ad hoc platform, would be able, for example, to notify resources of the activities to be carried out or report a non-compliance in real time.
Spread a culture of quality
Thanks to the previous work, you understood that data collection is a continuous job, impossible to be deputed to the quality control manager only but that involves all the organisation.
As a technology, the automatization of data collection is revealing as a very useful tool, because it implies the collection of data during the activity itself, making each participant liable for the process. KPI data you are collecting will soon provide important insights into how well you are performing.
Spreading a culture of quality through the whole organisation needs to involve all departments. Every component of the team has to know how quality control tools work and which KPIs will be measured by those. It arouses a sense of belonging in the team and gives the opportunity to share cross department know-how derived from experience on the field.
Implementing a culture of quality is essential for achieving objectives and stimulating productivity and to attune human resources to high quality standards.
Maintain tech environment up to date
Thus, as we said at the beginning, it is not necessary to imagine a huge investment to introduce the culture of quality.
Technological resources are increasingly varied and accessible and we need to take advantage of them. The benefits derived from digitization are really important and can allow you to run every aspect of your business rationally and efficiently.
Certainly you cannot imagine obtaining high quality performances from obsolete tools. Keep your digital environment up to date and try to implement every innovation to improve your process management and data analysis.
Track and reduce quality losses
The continuous collection and analysis of data allows you to keep track of all problems and non-conformities that arise throughout the life of the product or service you provide.
After a reasonable amount of time, necessary to make the data statistically relevant, you can easily use them to act where and when it is most necessary. You may detect recurring problems or process dysfunction that impact quality and easily identify the best responses to fix that.
Again, technology can help you. Digital audit systems are capable of proposing ad hoc solutions and notify of issues in real time.
Create a response plan
Now you should have all the tools to detect problems, then you need an action plan to solve that! Setting your tools to prevent problems or to notify managers or workers for an intervention are just some of the privileges of digitization.
Study your KPIs and identify the most frequent problems or those that could arise and develop an action plan to address the problems when they pop up.
Digitization is an important resource and its implementation is urgent and essential to evolve quality control and testing. It’s time to embrace the culture of quality and achieve your goals.