New ideas for quality management: Part 6

Managing manufacturing quality is never a one-size-fits-all solution. Each situation differs and requires unique approaches to technologies, information, and training.


As I promised last time, I’m finally wrapping up this topic on the management of manufacturing quality. If you’ve been following all this, you’ll know that there are a lot of cool new ideas out there and a lot of cool new technology as well. It all means that you can have a pretty big impact on the shop floor and a pretty big impact on the bottom line for your company.

What I thought I’d do with this post is try to wrap up this topic and try to give you a bit of a road map on how to make some changes, and how to get from where you are to where you want to be.

But before I start I guess I need to mention a few things. First, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. This road map is just a suggestion for getting there. You’ll need to think about your own situation and figure out the best approach to getting where you need to go. Secondly, you’re mileage may vary. Everyone starts from a different place and wants to get to a different place. For some the journey is easy and short, and for others it’s a lot harder and longer. It all depends on what you’re trying to do. The bottom line is to start small and take it in baby steps. Make sure you are successful along the way making whatever you’re doing essentially pay for itself as you go.

Advanced testing technologies: Look for the right technologies for your situation and provide them where it makes sense. Look for technologies for the lab and on the line. Look for technologies that support at-line or near-line testing. Look for technologies that will work well on the shop floor and that are easy to use and easy to interface with.

Information technologies (IT): Look for IT solutions that support your overall approach to quality management. Look for solutions that fit in well with your overall IT architecture. Look for solutions that support your specific initiatives and your specific issues. Look for simple and easy-to-use solutions and solutions that are easily integrated with others.

Information: Look for ways to provide the right information to the right people at the right time. Look at the best way to provide real-time data to those people who can best use it to run the business and who can best use it to run the manufacturing processes. Look at ways to provide real-time information and historical information to those who need it.

Education: Look for ways to provide training to the employees so that they can exploit the information for process improvements. Look at the training needs for everyone from the operators all the way to the plant managers. Look for ways to provide training on the entire manufacturing process so that everyone is smarter about manufacturing not just one piece.

Ownership: Look for ways to empower the operators to make decisions and take ownership of the manufacturing process once the information, technology, education, and so on are all in place. Look for ways to transform the role of the operator from just a machine operator to a true manufacturing craftsman responsible for the quality of the finished product.

Well, I think that’s about it. This has been a lot to digest and I think it’s about time I take a look at some other topics. But this has been good. You have a good introduction to a lot of new concepts for managing manufacturing quality, and a lot of good ideas that can really help out on the shop floor and can really have an impact on the bottom line. That’s good all the way around. So, as usual, good luck and have fun! And, next time, we’ll start something new. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

This post was written by John Clemons. John is the Director of Manufacturing IT at MAVERICK Technologies, a leading automation solutions provider offering industrial automation, strategic manufacturing, and enterprise integration services for the process industries. MAVERICK delivers expertise and consulting in a wide variety of areas including industrial automation controls, distributed control systems, manufacturing execution systems, operational strategy, business process optimization and more. 

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