Three tips for ensuring global quality for products

Quality is a constant challenge for manufacturing companies, but focusing on business relationships, standards, and technology can help mitigate some of the challenges on the supply chain.
By Valérie Goulévitch October 20, 2017

Quality is an unforgiving expectation however goods are produced and consumed. Customers expect quality regardless of where a product has been manufactured and who has been involved, so brand owners need to ensure that quality expectations are being met and monitored by everyone in their supply chain, as well as everyone in their supply chain’s supply chain. Quality failures all too often become a lead story in the business and consumer press and are what keep executives up at night.

Collaboration is at the core of global business. It makes sense to pay close attention to that process in relation to quality. Here are three areas companies can focus on to help assure that global quality won’t become an issue:

1. Business relationships. Risk and compliance need to be managed across extended business relationships, yet often those relationships face close scrutiny only at their inception. Bad idea. Risk should be assessed over the life of a business relationship, so be sure that processes are in place to maintain an ongoing assessment of it. These risks will vary depending on the partner, and they should be considered accordingly. They also need the ongoing assessment of legal and regulatory issues in different markets, not just the market where the company is based. Importantly, resolve issues as quickly as possible when they arise; all relationships will have difficulties to address from time to time. If they fester, they’ll become more problematic.

2. Standards and testing organizations. Early engagement with testing and certification organizations is like a dose of preventative medicine: it helps avoid quality issues by ensuring that manufactured products meet international and domestic standards, as well as those that exist between specific trading partner nations. One consideration here: the earlier the involvement, the better. Think of collaborating with these groups in the design phase. One more: engage with standards and testing organizations based in the country or region where you are manufacturing.

3. Technology. Strongly consider employing technologies that close the quality loop across all manufacturing facilities in the network. Quality management systems (QMS) can identify potential problems before they occur when integrated effectively as part of a closed-loop quality process proactively monitoring events across any enterprise source. Enterprise sources include supplier issues, manufacturing nonconformance, complaints, services, and audits-both locally and globally.

Linking QMS with manufacturing execution systems (MES) is a powerful strategy. Quality management systems that directly collaborate with MES and Manufacturing Intelligence ensure compliance with corporate and industry regulations, and enable quality programs such as lean and six sigma with the goal of continuously improving product quality and preventing adverse events. These applications that unify manufacturing, quality, and intelligence capabilities deliver a closed-loop approach to improving product and process quality. 

Valérie Goulévitch, head of marketing and communication at Siemens PLM Software, member of MESA International. This article originally appeared on MESA International’s blog. MESA International is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media, cvavra@cfemedia.com