Ensuring quality in an organization’s production processes is essential to avoid a defective end product. The Quality Department of a company is in charge of controlling and assuring the quality of the final products of an organization through its production processes. Techniques such as statistical process control (SPC) are often used.
Quality, Throughout The Entire Production Process
Quality should not be offered solely and exclusively in final products but must be present throughout the entire production process, including manufacturing. The Quality Department of each organization is committed to quality assurance as part of quality management aimed at providing confidence that quality requirements will be met and being key to ensuring production efficiency. In other words, it is up to this department to control and supervise quality throughout the entire production process that takes place in an organization.
The number of organizations that implement the ISO 9001 standard is increasing, due mainly to the evolution that this concept has undergone in the last century.
In the 1950s, the quality was a luxury that few organizations could afford. A decade later, quality came at a high cost, expanding the circle of organizations. In the 70s it became a sales instrument; 10 years later, it is an instrument for the benefit of organizations, to become a strategic issue within each organization in the 90s. As you can see, the history of the ISO is marking a before and after in the quality process.
Today, betting on quality is a philosophy that aims, by achieving the balanced satisfaction of the needs and expectations of all stakeholders, the long-term success of an organization. Quality has been managed to move in the same direction as the organization, and in line with its objectives (profitability, growth and security).
Why go for quality?
Why bet on quality in the product management process? The answers to this complex question branch out into various domains. We find financial reasons, commercial reasons, technical reasons, external conditions and the environment of the company.
For financial reasons: poor quality is simply expensive for both the company and the customer, and consequently has associated loss of profits.
For commercial reasons: quality will help us to better deal with negative factors (increase in the price of energy or raw materials as well as market demands), improve the customer’s point of view regarding the quality/price ratio and Lastly, it manages to maintain or improve the brand image, achieving loyal customers and market development.
Regarding the technical reasons, we find that quality improves technical performance, it also improves the properties linked to its use (reliability, maintenance and lifespan), as well as mastering the technique (improving and normalizing the process of manufacturing as well as inspection methods and procedures).
Quality also influences the improvement of external relations that are maintained with industrial customers, with consumer associations, with public authorities and with ecological associations.
Finally, the implementation of quality improves the internal environment of the organization. The biggest premise to follow is satisfaction for a job well done.
In short, a higher quality in the production processes generates advantages for the organization such as less waste, fewer repetitions, fewer rejections, fewer claims and fewer returns, which translates into lower costs and higher productivity.
Phases for The Implementation of A Quality Management System
The quality in the production processes of an organization is implanted in an organization following three stages:
Evaluation and Planning
The first thing to do is make a clear definition of the quality management system to be implemented and establish its work team, evaluating the possibility of having external support or not, for example, a consultant.
At the internal level of the organization, it is necessary to appoint a project coordinator who is responsible for designing, developing and implementing the quality system in the organization’s production process, as well as having the continuous support of the management team.
In the same way, it will be necessary to prepare a budget and maintain the commitment to compliance, together with the training needs for the implementation of the system, as well as designing the best system in order to guarantee that all members of the organization receive all the necessary information regarding the implementation of the quality system.
The success of the implementation of a quality system will be conditioned by the answer to these seven essential questions:
- Project or task: What needs to be done?
- Objectives: What do we need / want? What do we want to achieve it for?
- What are the basic conditions for implantation?
- Results: What should be obtained? How do we recognize the achievement of the objectives?
- What “inputs” do we have?
- What concrete steps need to be taken to achieve that result
Implementation Phase: System Documentation
The regulations require that the quality management system is documented. Such documentation must be simple, effective and reflect the reality of the company.
The basic documents that the quality system must contain are:
- Management manual
- Work instructions
- External documentation
- Quality plans
- Management policy
- In addition, external documentation such as current legislation, user manuals, supplier documentation, technical documents, etc. may be used.
Regarding the phases in which the quality system documentation will be carried out, we find three:
Quality manual: Description of the company and its history, Quality Policy and Quality objectives. Being very important the process of dissemination of the quality policy and objectives within the company.
Process mapping: definition of the company’s processes and process levels, in addition to their interactions.
Structure and development of procedures, documenting those that are deemed appropriate.
Audit of the System
Once the documentation phase is completed, an internal audit must be performed on the system to verify its correct operation. The result will obtain a clear image of the extent to which the quality system has been implemented and works in practice.
Once the quality management system is working and the first internal audits of the system have been carried out successfully, it will be time to decide whether or not you want to certify this Quality Management System, following the ISO 9001 standard: 2008.
Quality Control in Production Processes
Quality control is defined as “the set of measurements and analyzes related to the characteristics of an element”. Best from an element, product or service that is carried out, in order to verify compliance with the previously established requirements.
The degree of quality will be “the indicator of the properties and characteristics of those products / services that are destined for the same use and for which a relationship between benefits and cost is maintained”.
When quality control is carried out in production processes, a double objective is pursued:
Check the conformity of the product with respect to its design specifications.
Identify the causes of variability to establish correction and prevention methods, and to ensure that manufactured products meet design specifications.
Quality Chain Reaction
As we have seen so far, high quality has an impact on all phases of an organization’s production process summarizes it this way:
Quality improvement -> Few failures, few delays, better use of resources and reduced costs -> Improved productivity -> Market Capture with higher quality and lower prices -> Staying in business -> Provides work and more work.