Today’s best-in-class companies understand the impact quality has on the customer experience, and they know that customer expectations around quality must be reflected in their product development direction. Poor quality has sweeping implications, including customer dissatisfaction that erodes outcomes across the entire enterprise. Recognizing product excellence as the single greatest determinant of success, top-performing manufacturers think and act around quality and implement technologies and strategies that positively impact business results.
In this blog post, we will review the state of quality in manufacturing, discuss how digital technology is transforming quality management, and surface what best-in-class companies are doing to ensure quality in a tangible way.
The Current State of Quality in Manufacturing
Quality is top of mind for most best-in-class manufacturers, and most of those surveyed by Aberdeen Strategy & Research view quality as both a regulatory process and a strategic planning activity. Since supply chain issues continue to wreak havoc on quality management processes, customer satisfaction, cost, and risk have become top drivers for quality improvements. Meanwhile, the complexity of global supplier networks and the rising cost of raw materials continue to challenge quality professionals.
With the rising cost of materials due to inflation, organizations should embrace tools that manage incoming materials to ensure they only accept the highest quality items. A recent Aberdeen study found that 66% of respondents believe quality has the most positive impact before manufacturing starts. This belief has significantly led to a focus on design and testing to reduce quality issues later in the product life cycle. Late-stage quality pitfalls can be avoided by visualizing potential defect conditions and running more comprehensive tests.
Different sectors have different initiatives and targets for quality. While highly regulated industries like aerospace and medical devices focus on improving product quality, other manufacturers are working on improving their supply chain by navigating various challenges with process-focused digital transformation initiatives. Consumer goods manufacturers, meanwhile, are focusing on everything from product and processes to supply chain and company culture.
How the Best-in-Class Approach Quality in the Digital Transformation Era
Best-in-class companies are implementing key strategies and actions to improve quality management in an Industry 4.0 era. They rely on lean manufacturing, analytics, and standardization to address their top pressures and mitigate various quality-related challenges that surface throughout the manufacturing process. According to an Aberdeen survey, these challenges include:
- Competing priorities
- Integration of disparate systems
- Changes in experiences for customers
- Limited budget
- Security concerns
- Scalability and adaptability for new business models
- Inability to define, measure, or support the positive impact of changes
The good news is that these challenges don’t have to make their way to the product. With automation and real-time data analysis remaining the top drivers to reduce production time, using technology to support quality initiatives throughout the manufacturing process can help manufacturers overcome these obstacles. Over 60% of all companies say they are currently using quality capabilities built into software like PLM, MOM/MES, and ERP to deliver visibility and ensure quality. The best-in-class are most likely to use innovative MES solutions. More than 58% report using technologies like predictive analytics, IIoT, AI, ML, and augmented reality.
Furthermore, top manufacturing performers are automating proactive approaches for quality to drive continuous improvement. They are implementing quality controls like ISO standards, rules, inspections, and cost controls to prevent defective items from not only leaving the factory, but from occurring in the first place. Additionally, a game changer for best-in-class decision-makers has been leveraging a connected platform for viewing quality data anywhere at any time from any device. Since quality touches so many facets of the business, end-to-end visibility can make a transformative impact.
The Benefits of a Quality-First, Data-Rich Mindset
The best-in-class continues to lead by example regarding robust and effective quality management in the digital transformation era, and other organizations can leverage their best practices to enable their own success. One of the primary pillars of quality-centered practices is data.
Top performers are using a variety of analytics technologies like predictive and prescriptive analytics to help make real-time analysis capabilities possible. These companies constantly invest in continuous improvement tools and methodologies, establishing a comprehensive decision-making approach.
When business leaders have access to accurate, quality information, they are better equipped to make decisions. The best-in-class often utilize root cause analysis to make better decisions and identify data gaps and areas of error potential to prevent them from happening in the future. Real-time management of quality data and KPIs across the enterprise pays dividends in the form of stronger, richer decisions.
This focus on quality increases productivity, establishes trust with clients and suppliers and improves new product introduction (NPI) performance. Additionally, best-in-class companies are more likely to hit their product targets due to a focus on effective material management and firewalling the factory from non-conforming materials. Companies can save money by bringing in higher quality materials, but also by efficiently utilizing those materials and minimizing waste. By focusing on eliminating the cost of non-quality and material waste, operating costs are also lowered, and the bottom line shows the impact.
Putting Your Best Foot Forward with the Right Solution for Quality
Many organizations are moving to a connected platform approach for quality management by leveraging QMS+MES. The best-in-class are excelling because of automation, real-time analysis, and continuous improvement capabilities. These top performers utilize a blended approach to achieve stronger compliance, operating margins, trust in data, and profitability.
It’s crucial for an organization that’s striving to become best-in-class to leverage the right tools for enabling effective quality management. A solution like Aegis’ FactoryLogix enables manufacturers to always gain greater visibility into the status and performance of manufacturing processes and offers countless opportunities for quality improvement. This uniquely adaptive solution elevates product quality as it drives enterprise-wide compliance and efficiency—helping manufacturers discover greater returns than ever before.
To learn more about how the best-in-class achieve the highest levels of quality in manufacturing and embrace innovation in the digital transformation era, watch our on-demand webinar "Surf the Quality 4.0 Wave.”
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