By Vivek Bhachawat
Most management and quality theorists believe that Quality comprises of 9 dimensions, which are- Aesthetics, Conformity, Durability, Features, Reputation, Response, Reliability, Service and Performance. Now out of these nine dimensions, depending on the nature of service or type of product offered a dimension or a few dimensions become more relevant. So for an apparel manufacturer, aesthetics, reputation and durability may be of more importance, quality wise, in contrast for a pharmaceutical manufacturer, the importance of conformance, reliability and the performance of the drug are vital. So, although the dimensions of quality remain almost the same in every industry, their relative importance keeps changing. Understanding this phenomenon is crucial when you consider Quality management for your process as it is important to understand the real meaning of quality from a customer and market perspective. Once you have established, what really matters for you, in terms of quality, you can begin the process of achieving world class quality levels.
Let’s consider a typical modern manufacturing process to understand how and where quality excellence can be pursued and achieved. Generally, most modern manufacturing processes are automated to a large extent in terms of process equipment, with the role of workers, restricted to operating the equipment or monitoring their performance. In such automated production floors the role Quality Control and Quality Assurance has become very different from that in manual processes. In an automated environment quality is dependent on the performance of the machines and the ability of the productions staff to keep the machines working to the optimum level. Also the interface between subsequent processes is extremely important to ensure the product being manufactured conforms to standards at every stage of production. The best way to achieve this is through strict quality control and monitoring, which can be achieved in a faster and more productive way through Information Systems, such as the MES and SPC.
These systems provide a seamless integration of your process and provide end-to-end visibility, this allows for further automation of the process and ensures activities are performed to ensure effectiveness and elevate efficiency. SPC applications have become so evolved that they not only provide a visual representation of the product/process quality, but are also capable of providing various perspectives to look at the process, in terms of metrics and their combinations. This means a user can view charts, graphs and process performance data, from multiple viewpoints and perform a myriad of calculations, by just a click on the display. When IT applications give such visibility and coverage, it is nearly impossible not to notice a quality related issue, they also help determine assignable causes and help curtail or eliminate them entirely. Besides SPC, an MES also allows you to monitor the process in terms of the equipment, and their efficiency. It helps determine the overall process Quality and helps achieve the desired level of performance.
To reach high levels of Quality, it is important to analyze the process from both an Internal and an External perspective. IT applications help you do exactly that, they help you achieve improvement which is both continuous and sustainable. If you know what the customer’s perception of Quality is, these IT applications are capable of helping you incorporate these parameters in your Quality Management process. Reaching world class quality levels is more about understanding the definition of quality that exists in your environment and then successfully translating it into your process and its performance, through the IT applications discussed above. So then don’t wait around for a miracle, start analyzing what does, World-Class Quality really mean in your industry segment and go on and achieve it through the miracle called IT.