Seamless quality control is essential, especially for industrial companies. Only in this way can companies be sure of delivering high-quality and flawless products to their customers.
The largest share of quality control could be automated in many companies in recent years. M2M communication, blockchain and AI-supported quality management systems are just a few buzzwords here. With a well thought-out digitalization concept, these methods can undoubtedly create efficient and resource-saving production processes.
However, especially manufacturers of products with small batch sizes and high variance face the challenge that not all sub-processes can be completely controlled by machines and their sensors. Here, the focus is on data acquisition of manual processes, which are still often carried out via e-mails, Excel or paper checklists. The keyword here is human-generated data. Analog documentation can hardly be evaluated, is prone to errors and can only be retrieved with great effort.
Products are often still checked with paper-based checklists!
Whether for manufacturers of special machinery, production equipment or special vehicles, the exact requirements and specifications vary from project to project – and so do the quality control requirements at the end of the manufacturing process. The custom-made products are checked against predefined inspection points and again recorded in paper checklists.
Paper certainly has its advantages – but evaluability is not one of them. The information collected on the checklists can only be transferred to other systems (e.g. ERP systems, analytics tools, etc.) and reused with an enormous amount of time. In the end, the information contained ends up completely unused in a folder that ends up in the trash after the legal retention period. One thing up front:
Information is data. And data is valuable. Only on the basis of an accurate database can improvements be made and high quality ensured in the long term.
2020, a survey was conducted on digital processes in companies. Although every 10th large company has already established digital processes, the proportion of paper-based processes is still considerable.
Problems with paper-based checklists:
- Time-consuming data entry
- Loss of data
- Error prone
Digital acquisition of data as a basis for product and process optimization.
Certainly, information on the paper checklists can also be used to make improvements to processes or products. In reality, however, this means that an employee would have to look through the individual folders and lists manually and search for patterns in the documents using self-defined criteria. Is this the case? It is much more likely that the folders are left in their cabinets and only brought out in an emergency to react to a problem instead of acting preventively.
Yet there is so much more to the checklists. Errors, deficiencies and weak points in the products and processes could be uncovered, eliminated and avoided in the future through a precise analysis of the data. Exact throughput times can be shown and structured data can be recorded down to the smallest individual step that can be checked. These can in turn form the basis for predictive maintenance methods or simply mean that process deviations can be addressed much more quickly and accurately. For efficient analysis, however, the information from the operational quality controls would have to be available digitally. In the case of checklists on paper, this means manually transferring the information into the EDP system and, if necessary, manually adding photos that have been taken. Among other things, this requires a dedicated employee and a lot of time, depending on how many checklists there are.
If the quality control tests are recorded digitally at the same time, the extra work step for transfer to the system is not necessary and the quality data is immediately available for other tasks. By digitally recording quality data in even the smallest test steps, the reduction of resources in production control is supported. Repeated quality checks in production processes and final inspections enable seamless quality assurance without any media breaks. This in turn leads to increased product and process quality and strengthens competitiveness in the market environment.
Your advantages with digital quality control.
- Huge time savings in quality data collection, no printing, collecting and filing,
- Less workload for employees
- Lower error rates
- Structured information per plant by means of detailed data collection incl. photo and video
- Reduced response time for correcting defects or deviations
- Shorter lead times
- Digital documentation and archiving
- More clarity
- More ease of operation
- Higher employee satisfaction
- Creation of a consistent quality culture
- Detailed evaluations of all process activities as the basis for improvements
In industry, and especially in European industry, quality is one of the most important success factors. The trend away from pure cost thinking and the possible cheap production towards the quality orientation, offers a huge competitive advantage for European producers. With digital quality control solutions, this competitive advantage can not only be maintained, but even extended! The digital data and the resulting evaluation results help to further optimize processes and products and to ensure the success of one’s own products in the long term.