A good design isn’t all that matters to a quality product. The way that product is actually created is going to have the biggest say of all. But if you’re unused to manufacturing or you just consider losses as part of the package, you might not think too hard about just how much quality could be improved. However, by reducing the number of defects and the amount of variance in the end product, you could stand to make a lot more money. Here are some of the measures you need to put in place.
Understand your market
Market research is vital for making sure your product reaches the intended audience. But it’s good for more than viability. It helps you spot the qualitative problems that you need to tackle first. Creating as high quality a product as you can is an aim you should strive for no matter what market you’re going into. However, understanding your market and what, specifically, they want from a product is a good way to know their priorities. Those priorities are what helps you to separate the big problems with your products from the smaller ones.
Test, test and test again
You’re likely to have some kind of quality control necessary once you get the operation start. Beforehand, however, you can save yourself a lot of trouble by spending more time with prototypes and testing. For instance, you can use 3D printing to create quick prototypes that can help you identify the real dimensions of your product and figure out the best logistics methods for them. When building your production line, slow production is what you should start with. Test every process and every piece of equipment to see how it affects the overall quality of the product at the end. Thorough testing not only helps you spot room for improvement in quality but in the materials and equipment you use, their costs and reliability.
Start recording data now
To get a real idea of how much quality you’re losing in every batch of products, you need to start recording the figures right now. You want to measure not only the number of losses through production but you want to spot sources of product variance and reduce it as much as possible. The sooner you start recording the input and output of each process, the easier it is to find those elements where losses and variance is at its greatest. Perhaps more importantly, you can use these methods to calculate the costs of improving or replacing systems against the amount of products lost due to variance or damage. Cost effectiveness is just as important as quality if you want the business to survive.
The right data can help you make big upgrades and solve big problems, but there are a lot of little problems that pop due to time and wear and tear on your equipment. You should arrange for more than just scheduled maintenance every now and then. You need to designate a portion of your workforce to the task of continuous improvement measures on the whole. For instance, make sure you have team members focused on Total Productive Maintenance, focusing on the upkeep of the machinery, detecting errors, and emphasizing proactive maintenance rather than reactive maintenance. An Equipment Improvement Team should be assigned to create and improve machine standards, as well. They can even be assigned to find the cost and effectiveness of upgrades of current equipment.
Clean all the time
It’s an unfortunate truth that there are still a lot of businesses that will send products with imperfections to the market. Most will identify faulty products before they get too far down the line and find a way to eliminate those losses. But if you really want quality products, then you have to take an even closer look at what you’re doing. For instance, you need to consider the dirt and debris that might possibly build up from one manufacturing process to another. Those imperfections can affect the whole product if they’re not caught before finishing processes like applying powdered paint or glazing metal. That’s why it’s a good idea to look at chemical pretreatment between the most important parts of the production process. Reliant Finishing Systems has the details on how that can work for you. Naturally, cleaning the rest of the production line should be a regular part of maintenance too.
Though we want to trust in our workforce, we can’t deny that human error will always play a large role in faults in manufacturing. Automating more of your processes means standardizing production without having to teach that standardization to employees and expecting them to remember everything they have to. Some human interaction is going to be essential for most automated practices, but the more you can reduce it, the more you can reduce the losses and variance in your products. With automated system alarming, you can also be alerted to faulty processes a lot quicker than you might be while relying wholly on human operators. More than that, it can free up your labor, which means they can be used in more quality focused roles.
Create a more competent workforce
One of the ways you can ensure that is by giving them the proper training they need. No-one who operates machinery on the production line should be operating without understanding fully what they’re working with. If you treat them as cogs only good for assisting production, they will be little help when there are problems in production. Instead, by training them to know more about the equipment and materials they use, they can be quicker in solving those problems. They can be part of your approach to Total Productive Maintenance. This is known as autonomous maintenance, meaning fewer hands have to get involved in ensuring the quality of the production process.
Smarter machines and smarter people are the two more reliable tools for ensuring quality in your products. But don’t forget you need to have the underlying data of where quality issues are appearing to make accurate fixes.