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Overcoming Challenges to Becoming a Quality Leader

Digital Transformation
March 13, 2024

"Quality is everyone's responsibility."

This decades-old quote from quality researcher and educator W. Edwards Deming has stood the test of time for good reason: essential to both products and processes, quality can be influenced by every role up and down the manufacturing process. Everyone shares the burden of maintaining and improving quality — and therefore can also share in the success of achieving high quality.

Successfully leading a quest for quality means taking ownership, regardless of your job title. It means identifying the benefits of achieving higher quality, understanding the factors that are decreasing your quality, and adopting new methods that can make your quality goals a reality. 

Reasons to Improve Quality in Manufacturing

Repeatable, predictable high quality gets the right kind of attention. It’s an effective way to gain new and repeat business as you increase customer satisfaction and reduce quality loss and the risk of recalls. As profits increase, it provides an opportunity to create more steady business for your suppliers, helping solidify your relationships with them. Becoming a brand that is known for its quality can even attract a greater number of qualified applicants to join your team, which helps build a culture where all employees embrace having a consistently high level of quality. 

While the benefits of achieving higher quality are clear, the ways in which to achieve it take thought and consideration. As you strive to take ownership of quality goals, it’s important look closely at what could be holding you back.

Understanding the Obstacles to Better Quality

Just as high quality is the result of many good things happening at once, low quality points to a range of possible issues with materials, processes, and products. Taking ownership of quality goals requires that you recognize common red flags that signal quality issues:

  • Errors: Manually inputting data is a method prone to human error. Information captured only on spreadsheets and white boards immediately becomes outdated — and relying on wrong answers leads to inefficient processes, failed audits, and noncompliance.
  • Unknowns: Lacking the ability to trace and track, as well as quickly communicate critical data, means important decisions are made with best guesses instead of accurate information. 
  • Waste: Is it piling up? Timely and accurate data about your supplies and processes provides you the visibility needed to eliminate waste from your production, saving product and time.
  • Inconsistency: Processes and quality can both suffer from a lack of consistency. This can take shape as failed attempts at demonstrating processes, inadequate training for new employees, or trouble communicating your needs to suppliers.  

Experiencing any of these issues, as frustrating as that can be, ultimately presents an opportunity: to adopt modern manufacturing solutions that will transform your operations for the better.

The Way to Work Smarter 

Today’s quality leaders are gaining greater control over processes and quality outcomes when they stop relying on spreadsheets and guesswork and instead embrace technology that delivers fast, accurate, digitized data.

Digital data is at the heart of smart manufacturing. You can view it anytime, from anywhere, and use it to connect people, systems, machines, and supply chains while adhering to today’s best practices for achieving higher quality. If you’re new to the game or would like a refresher, use this Quality Management for Dummies eBook as a guide to the basics. 

Ultimately, having tighter control over your manufacturing execution processes and plant floor machines in real time ensures reliability and consistency. Digital data makes it possible to: 

  • Use full digital tracking and tracing capabilities to track material from upstream suppliers, through work in process and production, to downstream customers
  • Access a master list of parts tracking, including all associated part data, such as part description, part type, and revision history
  • Identify areas to improve as you gain better control of your production processes 
  • Use analytics to improve downtime, OEE performance, and job performance over time
  • Create a closed-loop system that truly measures productivity and other equipment KPIs in real time with user alerts
  • Measure broad production metrics against targets like production cycles, job performance, container and packout, quality, downtime, scrap, and machine status

A smart manufacturing platform provides digital data that is always ready for your team to access, making it possible to pinpoint quality issues quickly and find inefficiencies that potentially impact your bottom line. It also helps your company be better prepared for audits and recalls with full traceability back to source material. From improving inventory accuracy to lowering costs to empowering employees, there are many real-world examples of smart manufacturing in action that you can learn from.

Taking Action, Achieving Quality Results

Taking ownership of quality efforts, regardless of your job title, makes higher quality a reality for your company. That proven perspective is even more effective when paired with today’s smart manufacturing technology.  Using digital data makes quality management inherent to your workflows, processes, culture and products, and to see that in action, click through this interactive quality management system demo.

About the Author

Plex Team