When customers manufacture products with the desired quality and at the highest level of productivity, we refer to it as their “productivity advantage.” Historically, quality and productivity have been oppositional forces, with the mentality that quality was merely the fulfillment of a compliance requirement. The reality is that when an efficient quality process is an integral part of the design and manufacturing processes, or part of a “closed-loop quality process,” quality becomes a critical driver of productivity.
When we think of how quality drives productivity, we define 3 main drivers:
Valuable process optimization
Significant cost reduction
Intuitive quality control
Valuable process optimization: How do you determine what “valuable” processes are, and then how do you optimize them? First, you must think about quality throughout the entire product lifecycle, and have transparency into the cross-lifecycle value streams that create that product, from concept to end-of-life. Those processes must embrace lean principles, so that you are starting from value-added processes for your optimization work. Real-time information on those processes must be available and actionable, enabling prompt actions for deviations as well as feeding product history information back into design. Ultimately, your optimization must be supported by continuous improvement processes that are systematized – naturally incorporated into the current product lifecycle and the next.
Significant cost reduction: At the surface, systematizing the value streams throughout the product lifecycle yields first-order cost reduction, including,
Elimination of paper and manual processes
Elimination of resource waste through visibility and transparency
Reduction in process and cycle times
Automated compliance support.
The Manufacturing Execution Systems Association (MESA) estimates that moving to automated manufacturing and quality processes can help companies achieve a 56 percent reduction in cycle times. Yet the dramatic effect is the reduction in the occurrence and cost of defects. By far the most incrementally costly processes are related to rework and scrap, not to mention the huge impact a recall can have on a company.
Intuitive quality control: MESA further estimates that half of all quality costs can be attributed to suboptimal quality control, poor quality management and the lack of prevention measures. How do you achieve intuitive quality control? By having quality be a natural part of your value streams. Think about systems that offer standardization and homogenization, a centralized data base, standardized reporting, KPI visualization, and complete transparency. Quality that yields productivity should be completely integrated with your ERP, PLM, and MES systems to create end-to-end value streams rather than another point solution.
Quality architected correctly really does drive a productivity advantage, as well as supporting a manufacturers brand and customer satisfaction (2 assets that drive the top line as well). Product quality governs the success of manufacturing companies.