The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode 114 · 1 month ago

Digitizing Quality Management

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In any manufacturing operation, quality matters.

Andrew Steele, the founder of FactoryQA, is an expert in quality management systems. After starting on the manufacturing floor and years of experience auditing, Andrew brings excellent insights into what quality management systems mean inside a manufacturer's operations. 

Join us as we discuss:

  •  What does quality mean in manufacturing? 
  •  How to know if you have a sound quality system in place? 
  •  The future of quality management in an increasingly digital world

Quality from manufacturers is something that should really be built into your culture, but should be more than just a quality policy kind of posted to your the wall on your manufacturing floor that that people walk by and don't really ever read. Maybe they can recite it um, but it's more than that. Welcome to the manufacturing executive podcast, where we explore the strategies and experiences that are driving mid size manufacturers forward. Here you'll discover new insights from passionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling stories to share about their successes and struggles, and you'll learn from B two B sales and marketing experts about how to apply actionable business development strategies inside your business. Let's get into the show. Welcome to another episode of the Manufacturing Executive podcast. I'm your host, Joe Sullivan, and a CO founder of the Industrial Marketing Agency guerilla sevent. This episode is brought to you by Alpha Software Corporation. Alpha software helps manufacturers digitized paper forms, making data collection fast and easy with built in analytics dashboards. Get a free trial at Alpha software dot com, slash M e. What does the word quality mean to you? Is it a subjective term, or does it mean compliance with some very specific standards. My guest today is an expert in quality management systems and he'll talk about what this means inside of a manufacturer's operations, specifically as our world moves further from analog and more toward digital. He'll give you a glimpse into where we're headed on the quality management front. Let me introduce him. Andrew Steel has worked in a variety of engineering roles in defense, electric vehicles and industrial automation. After starting on the manufacturing floor and years of auditing, he began seeing common issues between small manufacturers, which led to the founding of factory Qa. Andrew is married with two young children, two and four. They enjoy traveling, camping, camping and biking. Andrew, welcome to the show. Hey, Joe, thanks for having me on. I appreciate it, you bet, and it's always uh, it's always nice for me to have a Milwaukee guy on the show because I'm a born and raised Milwaukee guys. Spent my adult life in St Louis But um I'm getting ready to head up there just next week and going up to door county. For anybody listening who knows that region, it's about my favorite place on earth. So anyway, little tangent there, but you could have a Wisconsin native. Well, Andrew, Um, we're gonna be talking about quality management today, which is your world, and lots of manufacturers like to say, you know, we have the highest quality product and they use that as a differentiator. And for men of them it's true and for others they're kind of probably BS in their way through it, frankly. But Um, you know everybody says it or wants to believe it. From your perspectives a Quality Management Guy, what does that word quality really mean in a manufacturing setting? Yeah, definitely, Um, quality definitely does become a buzzword. You know, every every manufacturer likes to say this is our our differentiator, and you know that that's often true, often, often not. A bit of a mix there, and you know it can be hard to define for a lot of people. Even some people don't really know if they are providing n quality product or not. Um, the average person you kind of know it when you see it, but not easy to define really. But the kind of at the basic level, quality is the conformance to specifications kind of the probably the highest level definition. Um. So for a manufacturer, if a customer gives you a print and have a lot of requirements on there. You know what material to use,...

Um, what dimension everything should be, and you know if you create a part that matches that print, generally it's find as a good quality print. Um. However, I think quality really goes a little bit deeper than just making a part that meets a print. I think quality from manufacturers is something that should really be built into your culture, but should be more than just a quality policy kind of posted to your the wall on your manufacturing floor that that people walk by and don't really ever read. Maybe they can recite it, um, but it's more than that. You know, it's more than just a bunch of policies and procedures. It's really about your people and you know how you you engage and build trust and your employees and Um, you know how they get engaged with quality is is really a key to how well you will perform. U Um. It's often easier said than done, but things like engaging your employees and getting feedback from them on what maybe works or what doesn't work. Your operators on the floor are the ones doing the work every day and they're gonna know what's what's working and what isn't working. But if you're never asking them, Hey, what can we do better, Um, you're probably missing out on some key continuous improvement activities. Um. You know, a lot of times the engineers and quality engineers, manufacturing engineers, they're they're driving all these activities. Um. But if you're missing out on your your operator feedback, Um, you're you're missing out on some some key quality um details there. So engaging your employees, Um, collaborating between your operators, engineers, management, Um, just having good communication between everyone. Um. You know, all these things kind of contribute to a good quality culture and if your employees are kind of empowered, engaged and supported, Um, you're going to see your your quality performance increase. Um. Now, of course you know having all your your your procedures and policies and processes is good too, but Um, quality is really gonna be driven by your people at the end of the day. Let's talk a little bit about the certification side of quality. I'm sure most of, not all, of our listeners know something about ISO certification. Probably many of them are certified in some capacity. Um, but probably some you may not really realize how powerful it can be for their business. I know this is something you guys deal with in your world Um to some extent. Can you tell us a little bit about ISO certification and maybe some core benefits? Yeah, so most people, as you say, are are probably familiar with with Isa, you know, is so nine thousand and one is really the high level of the international standard for quality management. Um Companies will get ISO certified to, you know, really demonstrate their abilities um and their ability that they can consistently provide products and services that need. What customers requirements are and you know, for a lot of customers it's it's really the basic minimum requirements for when they're looking to find a supplier to make some parts from them. But your companies will have a whole list of things they look for when they're they're going out and sourcing. Apart. ISO is it's almost always gonna be at the top of their list for things they're looking for. It's an easy checkbox to know if this quality this company is as a good qm s good quality system in place or not having ice. But doesn't necessarily you have a bad quality system in place, but the ISO is kind of that that extra verification and certificate that you can hang on your wall. All that kind of shows everyone we have this,...

...we have a good QM S had, you know, I so come through and tell us that. So it's an easy way for for companies to know, Um, you know, if you have a good quality system in place and so to so to go through that process. It's, you know, really based on your your quality management system. Obviously it's the standard for for quality. So in the ISO certification process you will go through and create a q ms that meets all of the requirements of nine thousand one. Not necessarily everything will apply to every manufacturer. So you know you'll kind of have to determine which sections apply to you. Um, but it's really about first documenting your your q amounts, q m s out. This will be through your the documents, the forms, procedures, policies. But then it's going through and, you know, actually implementing and using those as kind of the the key part of of ISO and, you know, making sure your your employees are trained, that they know how to how to use everything in your qums. And you know, after you've you've kind of gone through and created all your documents and implemented and training everyone, then you'll have an auditor come through who will kind of verify all of these things and there's often findings and most audits, but they'll they'll let you make some corrections, um. But for that process then you'll be be certified and again that kind of lets people, all, all these companies know that you have a good q ms in place and you'll likely be a good supplier for them. You know, obviously, when when you're not ISO certified, you know you may miss out on being on some approved manufacturers lists or things like that. Are there other, you know, other maybe less obvious things that you may may be missing out on by not being ISO certified? Yes, I mean you know that's that's the big thing for for a lot of manufacturers is you're you're missing out on, you know, sales and revenue opportunities. Um, you know you can't even get your foot in the door with with a lot of these companies. So when I pull different manufacturing groups online, you know that's that's definitely the biggest thing I hear is we're kind of doing this for sales opportunities. And you know that makes sense. You're a business owner. You you want, hopefully want sales opportunities, um, but you know, there are other things you miss out on by being certified and you know, really going through the certification kind of drives you to create really a good quality management system and it's maybe more things you lose by not having a good q m s in place rather than not being ice so certified, because once you implement a Qms, it really I think that the next biggest thing between sales is, you know, it improves your operations. So if you have a poor q ms in place, you're probably increasing your exposing yourself to a higher risk of poor cost equality events, things like making bad parts and then having to rework then or making bad parts and then having to scrap them. To the even worse, or possibly the worst, I guess, would be making bad parts and then sending them to your customer and then then finding them and having to return those. I guess that's that's probably the worst thing that can happen. And so you know, things like that can lead to dissatisfied customers, you know, potentially even lose customers. And you know manufacturing is is a very close knit community. If you if you're hearing about this one main facturer who is not producing...

...good parts, probably not gonna recommend them or refer them to other companies around who might be looking for their type of services. So that dissatisfaction can lead to kind of a poor reputation, you know, lack of credibility, which will, you kind of compound over time. So I'd say your cost of poor quality is a big thing, um, but then also having dissatisfied customers, as you know, kind of another one as well. Let's take a quick break for a word from our sponsor. Still using paper forms for inspections? Alpha Software Corporation helps manufacturers turn paper forms into powerful mobile APPS. You'll create more accurate and thorough manufacturing data, and built in dashboards will help your manager's pinpoint quality and supplier issues faster. You don't need to have any development skills to build apps with Alpha software. They offer APP templates that make it easy. Get a free trial at Alpha software DOT COM. Slash M e Andrew, I've heard you say that so many companies are still operating in a very analog way or manual way when it comes to quality management. Are there examples of Um, you can give us some of the things you see going on along these lines inside of manufacturing operations? Yeah, sure a lot of manufacturers are still have heavily reliant on Pencil and paper and Excel. You walk through a manufacturing line, Um, you still see tons of tons of paper out there and a lot of facilities, your travelers, your inspection sheets were constructions, nonconformances. You know, just about everything can still be done on Puncil on paper and still is in a lot of operations. You know this can create some some efficiencies. Um, for a lot of manufacturers that it's kind of just the way it's always been and you know change can can be hard. There might not be any any interest in changing there. But you do miss out on things when everything is still kind of on the the analog Pencil and paper type forms and you're doing it this way. Everything then is stored in filing cabinets or folders. You know, it's in different people's desks. It's decentralized and you you lack some some visibility into your quality systems. If your quality managers on vacation, you might not be able to find some things you're looking for, or if your technician takes a long, a long, long weekend. You know, maybe there's some things that that they have that you can't find. So you know it's it's these paper forms that are kind of spread out all of your facility that aren't necessarily easy to find. This can also complicate your audits when you're doing your ice audits, because when I saw when you register comes into audit you, they're they're really looking at all of your documents that you have and then comparing them to what is going on. And you know a lot of times the audits are already you know, can be stressful enough and when you can't find the documents and forms that you need, you know kind of only compounds on the stress of your day when when you're being audited. So it doesn't really give you a good overview of how things are going when everything is on paper. And in addition to that, you're also gonna be wasting probably a lot of time with systems like this, not only time and finding the documents that you need, but you know, everything is gonna be very manual in systems like this, so your your data collection is all going to be by hand and then you're probably gonna have an analyst or an engineer copy everything that was on paper and put it...

...into excel and then you're gonna have someone else who takes all this data and manipulates a little bit and creates some some analytics, and someone else is probably gonna put that into a report that they used to share with management. So there's a lot of, you know, manual data work that goes on in systems like this. And do the time that it takes to do a lot of these tasks, Um, you know, a lot of times it just doesn't get done, which that exposes you to different risks of, you know, not having a good insight into your operations. So you know, a lot of things are very data driven these days and Um, you know, you your manufacturing floor spits out a lot of good data, but if you're not using it to drive things like continuous improvement, Um, you know you're wasting opportunities. So things that lad of digitization really kind of exposes you to some some risks and disadvantages, whereas if you were to kind of automate and digitize all those processes, you can better centralize your qums to make it easier to find what you need, you can start automating some of those tedious back office type tasks like data analytics, Um learning. You to two different things that need your attention and but it just gives you a better picture of your operations in real time. So it's not just when, whenever someone has a chance to go through and collect those data and analyze it. You can. You can see things in real time, which can help you make decisions, Um, a lot faster and helps your team focused on the things that are most important. So, Andrew, you are the founder of factory q a. m of obviously everything you've been talked thing about here today has led you to realize there's a hole in this space that had to be filled, and I wanted to just open it up to you to talk a little bit about how a software like factory Qa fits into the picture here. What does your software do and how does it address some of the issues we're talking about? Yeah, absolutely so, in the future, everything and the factory is going to be connected, not just your quality management all all of your machines, all of your processes, everything is going to be spitting out data that you you will have access to in real time, and what factor q a does is kind of starts connecting a lot of that data for your quality management system. Um. So factory q a is essentially a cloud based qms software that you know, we we help manufacturers centralize their quality systems. So these are things like your all of your documents that you have to be ISO compliance. And then we also automate a lot of those Um quality tasks that your team might spend a good amount of time on. And, you know, we've designed it to be kind of a holistic Qum s Um and you know a lot of RPS have quality modules built into them. Some of them are some of them are pretty good, some of them might be lacking a little bit. We're kind of try and expand on, you know, the basic quality modules that exist. So we we started off with the nonconformance tracking. So this is recording all of your your defects in one spot and you know, with our system, as soon as the defect is is recorded out on the line, it's immediately sent out to everyone who needs to know. So your your quality engineers, manufacturing engineer. As can see, as soon as an...

...operator enters some kind of of defect, they can then go out and work on their their corrective brunt of actions and then link everything that they did to those nonconformances Um and then we spit out data on all of those, where we will then analyze in real time all of your nonconformances and identify where your continuous improvement activities are. So instead of having to do all that manual data collection and analytics and reporting, Um Factory Qua does that for you in real time and this can really help management Um, you know, drive continuous improvement and kind of reduce some of the bottle as that might be occurring in your factories. And so this is nonconformances are kind of a core feature of most E R P s. You know, in a qms, this is what they kind of focus on. Um We abedded in more modules that that kind of complement Um quality and are are used by UM quality groups. So document control is another key one, where Um you can enter and classify all of your your documents that you need, and one of the requirements of ISO is that all of your documents have to be Um stored in stored in the right place and approved by the by the right people. So we have, you know, a document approval process that when you enter a document, it sends it out to the approvers who need to review it, and Um monitors that through the whole process. Rather than someone just emailing documents back and forth, for for signatures. We also have Um calibration records built in, which is and often, uh, nonconformants in your audits you you know, a lot of manufacturers have calibrated assets on their floor for, you know, measuring different parts that they have, and it's important to keep those up to date. But again, it often relies on someone, you know, monitoring those records to make sure you've you sent your tools out for for calibration when needed. But we have automated alert set up in there so when, when your tools need to be calibrated, Um will automatically tell you when to, you know, either calibrate those yourself or or sent amount. And then the last couple of things we have right now are inspection sheets Um, which we have a kind of an inspection sheet form builder where you can digitize all of your inspection sheets. We then give you analytics on that that you might be missing right now, and this is where we're starting to get into to some predictive analytics where with your inspection sheets, Um, you know often you have, you know, a lower respect limit, enough respect limit of something you're measuring. We'll we'll take all of your measurements, compare it to those SPEC limits and we will be able to tell you when something is starting to trend towards a nonconformance, which will allow you to prevent issues from even occurring in the first place, which is a, you know, kind of a a neat new feature that, Um, I don't see a lot about there, you know, kind of very similar to like an SBC UM analysis, but kind of built into our our software. And then, finally, we have work constructions built into this where, Um, you'll be able to digitize your work constructions and not only just add pictures to show your operators what to do, but you can add videos in as well, which is a can be can be...

...very helpful in showing your your employees how to do something. And another key benefit to having everything on a cloud platform is you don't have to worry about revision control. So you know, in the past, when you might have more constructions on paper, when you make any changes, that you have to make sure that you collect everything that is on your floor to make sure your your team isn't using old, old instructions. But when you have everything digitized, with a click of a few buttons you can push all those changes and, you know, really ensure that no older visions are are remaining on your floor. So really that our our goal has been to make quality simpler for manufacturers. Um, you know, make it simpler floor your employees and enable them to focus on what they do best. All these time consuming things aren't always the most fulfilling parts of their job can get in the way of some of the more important and critical things that they need to be working on. So, you know, we try and take away all those those time consuming back office type tasks from them, Um, to make their jobs a little easier and, you know, really overall improve your your quality management system. So that's, you know, really the key of of what factory Qa is and Um in additionally, started offering some certification workshops, Um, where manufacturers can attend these workshops. We set up your your qums, score you if you don't already have one, and then walk you through the implementation and training of your team to prepare you for the audits and then Um kind of walk you through the audit process as well. That's kind of a newer thing we've been adding in and Um seeing some people are interested and excited about that. Very cool. It sounds like you guys are doing some great stuff. Andrew, yeah, is there? Is there anything else you would like to add to this conversation that I didn't ask you about Um and I think you know really the only thing maybe I'd add is, you know, we've been seeing a lot more restoring and near shoring activities going on Um, you know, which is great, and as those occur, quality is going to be a deciding factor in the success and the long term success and and a lot of those initiatives. If you know parts are are poor quality and you know high costs, it's not going to lead to a long term Um success of those initiatives. So maybe a good q m s in place Um with these activities will help increase your productivity and you also keep your your cost of poor quality alone, which is going to be critical for a lot of these you know, you don't want to be bringing manufacturing back and then increasing your quality costs are scrapping a lot of parts. You know what that that cost will not, you know, inhibit the success of those Um so, you know, I think that's important and I hope a lot of the companies that that are doing these Um have some good qums is in place to to manage some of those Um but other than that, thank you for having me on your show and I hope this was a valuable discussion for your audience. Yeah, absolutely. I think it's a really important topic. And Yeah, you're right with the trend with re shoring and it's so much more manufacturing potentially coming back here this this Um only becomes that much more important. So well, Andrew, can you can you tell our audience where they can go to learn more about...

...factory q a and also to connect with you? Yeah, sure. If you want to learn more, you can go to factory QA DOT com. If you'd like to connect with me directly. Um, you know there's some contact forums on there, UM, and you know, factory Qua Dot Com. That's where you can go. Beautiful. Well, Andrew, thanks for doing this today. Yeah, thank you, appreciate it. Awesome. As for the rest of you, I hope to catch you on the next episode of the Manufacturing Executive. Before we go, I want to say a quick thank you to our sponsor, Alpha Software Corporation. Alpha software helps manufacturers digitized paper forms, making data collection fast and easy, with built in analytics DASHBOARDS, get a free trial at Alpha software dot com slash M e. you've been listening to the manufacturing executive podcast. To ensure that you never missed an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd like to learn more about industrial marketing and sales strategy, you'll find an ever expanding collection of articles, videos, guides and tools specifically for B two B manufacturers at guerrilla seventy six dot com slash learn. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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