Improving Quality Control Tips

Dec 6, 2016 | Quality Management

A company stakes its reputation on its quality management system. Whether a company is already reaping the benefits of the new ISO 9000:2015 certification or is still transitioning to the newer standard, its quality environment encompasses more than a print and some measurements. Sometimes the basic quality control protocols seem mundane, but effective quality depends on the entire process from acquisition to receipt by the customer.

We’ve put together some tips for improving the quality control function:

Know the Requirements

And we don’t mean just what’s on the print. Know the customer requirements – all of them. Is the piece to be molded later, or are the finishes cosmetic? Do the threads need to be cut, or can they be rolled? If the customer is in the aerospace industry, you can bet that those threads will be cut. Some customers are very willing to share the end use information about the product; others are highly protective of their own information. And there are some customers who are contracting their services and may not have all of the information that you would like about the part that you are manufacturing. To some, it may appear “pesky” to be asking several questions about a seemingly simple gear or shoulder bolt. But the rest of your customers appreciate it.

Follow the Process

Following the process is more than simply reviewing the routing. Performing an internal audit (either an informal one, or a formal one in the ISO system) will go a long way to ensuring that the process is correct and fulfills any requirements. Does the raw material need to be RoHS or AS-9100 compliant, and was that requirement stated on the purchase order, or was it overlooked in the print details?

End of the Road

Determining any packaging requirements beforehand can make the difference between an accepted order and a box full of scrap. Is bulk packaging acceptable? Does the product need to be rust-proofed, vacuum-sealed, or individually packaged? And just as importantly, remember that the shipper will not treat your shipment as delicately as you will – most shippers are naturally hurried, and boxes are quickly/roughly stacked, and smaller/lighter packages are often simply tossed into the truck. In their defense, they have no idea that your beautifully ground/polished parts are in that box, so plan ahead.

A quality control system that encompasses the entire process and takes ownership of those processes will soon be reflected in a great quality management system. That quality will also be a major factor in cost reductions, both internally and externally, when that ownership extends to the supplier base as well. Building excellent supplier relationships requires trust and lots of communication, as well as following the entire process at their facilities as well. Sometimes it is difficult or impractical to physically visit when the supplier may be located several hundred or even thousands of miles away, but that should not impede the ownership of quality.

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