Business Automation and Software Blog

Take Steps to Introduce Quality Management to Your Manufacturing Facility

Posted by Robert Baran on Wed, Feb 07, 2024 @ 11:00 AM

cogwheels over a gold metal texture made in 3d with high quality detail - quality management

Quality management (QM) is the series of steps that ensures activities required to make products are performed to the highest possible standards. QM requires a commitment from everyone involved in the company, from the executive suites to the shop floor, to follow the stated quality policy. As a manufacturer interested in introducing QM to your facility, you need to know the specific strategies needed to make it a success.


Commit to Making a Change

Making QM work requires commitment and acceptance of change in several areas.

As with any major organizational initiative, support from company leadership is critical. An executive should be given the responsibility to ensure the initiative is planned and to drive its execution, with regular reports back to the management team.

Crucial aspects of the QM project are:

  • Choosing staff members for the initial QM team,
  • Setting up a change management program to educate all staff about what QM entails,
  • Interacting with shop floor staff to get their buy-in,
  • Finance technical and digital resources to make QM work successfully.

Adopt a Digital Business Strategy

Manufacturers who want QM to work must get away from old manual processes and embrace the concept of the digital business—applying digital technology to business processes and operations.

Investment is needed in “smart” machines, primarily on the factory floor and in the warehouse. These are devices with embedded sensors that can connect, share, and interact with users and other smart devices. Smart machines enable better monitoring of production equipment and real-time reporting in case of quality issues and machine problems.

Establish a Quality Management Team

The QM team consists of people who ensure the whole business sticks to quality standards. At first, it can be existing staff pulled into new QM roles, but a dedicated quality manager and staff should be appointed at some stage, sooner rather than later.

The QM team needs to determine, upfront, some basic elements.

  • Define Goals: align the QM goals with overall business objectives, such as improving product quality or increasing output.
  • Set Appropriate Metrics: what metrics will be used to demonstrate how the QM project is achieving its goals? This decision will include what metrics are actionable, how they can be measured, and how to collect the data needed.
  • Determine Quality Standards: these are the acceptance criteria for products or processes, typically within minimum or maximum acceptable values.
  • Decide on Quality Control Points: where in the company, and in what processes, will quality checks be done?
  • Choose a Reporting Method: how are the metrics and improvement towards goals to be communicated, who can see the information, and how can the information identify gaps or opportunities for process changes?

The advantage of using manufacturing software with a QM function is that it becomes the data store for all QM data. The QM data can be captured and communicated in real-time. Using dashboards and embedded analytics in the ERP system is an easy way to access the information for those who need it. Having accurate, dependable data gives management the reporting and metrics they need to make informed decisions.

Types of Metrics the Quality Management Team can Use

There are several well-established metrics that the QM team can use:

Defect rates: how many units of production are defective, or unusable, out of a specific number of units.

First pass yield: how many quality units are produced as a percentage of the total units that began the process. This is a useful metric as it can be used to track waste; when scrap parts are created, or units require re-work, waste is generated.

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) score: measures customer satisfaction with a product or service.

Customer Complaints: customer complaints provide valuable insight into product or service quality.

On-Time Delivery to Commit: measures how often production can meet commitments for product delivery.

Perfect Order Percentage: how many complete orders are shipped on time as a percentage of all orders.

Customer Reject Rate: measures how many parts delivered to customers are defective. Because products can have more than one part to them, this metric can track how many specific parts are rejected.

Return Merchandise Authorizations (RMA): measure how often customers request and receive a refund for returned goods.

Overall Equipment Effectiveness: this is the best metric for identifying losses in production and improving the productivity of manufacturing equipment.

Reporting System

In addition to metrics that track the performance of quality initiatives, the QM team also needs to institute a reporting system so different functions of the organizations can see where and when there are problems.

One important report is a non-conformance report (NCR). This is generated during quality control checks when a product or procedure does not meet the initial quality regulations or requirements defined by the QM standards. This should be an automated report so departments such as production and inventory inspection can be alerted as soon as the issue is raised. By creating an NCR, issues can be defined and analyzed so fixes can be done quickly and correctly to ensure the non-conformity is dealt with.

Corrective and Preventive Actions (CAPA) is a methodology used to identify how improvements to an organizations processes can be made to mitigate undesirable situations like product nonconformities. CAPA provides a structure for a manufacturer to follow to find the cause of a problem, solve it, and identify ways to prevent the problem from occurring in the future.

Customer complaints are important for the QM team to receive from the sales and customer service departments. From RMAs that are reported, the information can be collated and analyzed to see if there are quality issues that need to be addressed.

The quality management reporting system should be automated via the ERP system. The integrated nature of an ERP system allows quality workflows to be established that the entire business can see and use to take action. This is in contrast to many stand-alone QM systems which only expose certain parts of the company to quality issues.

Collaboration with Suppliers Is Important

QM is not just an internal program; suppliers should also be involved. The QM team should communicate with suppliers, so they are aware of the quality assurance actions they are expected to put in place. Data should be shared with suppliers on quality control tests done during the initial inspection phase so they can review their own quality tests if required.

Manufacturers are realizing that improving and maintaining high quality levels in their products is part of staying competitive. A quality management system acting in tandem with an ERP means any quality issues can be detected and communicated to the relevant company departments. This feature ensures that the company’s QM initiatives aren’t confined to certain functions. Establishing a quality culture within the entire organization can be achieved in this manner.

PositiveVision specializes in working with manufacturers to implement software to increase quality and productivity. Contact us to learn more.


Robert Baran

Robert Baran is the founder and President of PositiveVision. He has worked in a variety of positions including system analyst, computer consultant and programmer, project manager, and division manager.

Topics: quality management