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Quality Management: Definition, Functions, and Objectives

Introduction:

Quality management is an integral part of manufacturing operations. It is essential to keep the process of quality checks on the finished product to deliver as per customer expectations. Quality management comprises two major functions, such as Quality Assurance and Quality Control. Quality management is a constant effort to monitor, measure, and improve manufacturing operations.

What is Quality Management?

Quality Management is the process of constant checks on the product or services by comparing with controls (evidence).  In general, ‘Quality’ is a relative term based on an individual’s expectations and satisfaction. Every individual or business organization sets its own standard of quality parameters. ‘Quality’ is a key in consumers’ decision factors in the selection among competing products and services. The phenomenon is widespread, regardless of whether the consumer is an individual, an industrial organization, or a retail store. 

Hence, Quality management plays a vital role in leading to business success, growth, and an enhanced competitive position. Every business organization maintains certain quality standards. It is the act of monitoring all the functionalities and activities that must be fulfilled to attain the desired level of excellence and satisfaction. The manufacturing industry needs a powerful and reliable quality management system to gain better control of every manufacturing process and cost. Proper implementation of Quality Management tools and techniques will result in better performance and growth for the organization.

In the modern practice of quality management, Total Quality Management (TQM) becomes an approach to better quality standards. TQM practice enforces the culture, attitude, and process of an organization striving to produce high-quality products and services that meet or exceed customer expectations.  A major process of successful quality improvement is driving the use of the proper statistical and engineering tools within the organization. Let’s look into Quality Management in detail and the different tools and techniques involved with it.

What is Quality Controls?

Quality controls are a set of sample products with accurate parameters to compare and measure qualifiable values to confirm the quality standard. In automotive or parts manufacturing environments, the control team would create sample controls of each product with a high standard setup and provide that as a reference model to the operators. The modern quality inspection tools also required controls to compare the finished products again control to determine the rejections accurately. Quality controls are part of the Total Quality Management practice.

Quality Assurance (QA) vs Quality control (QC) ​

Quality Assurance and Quality Control are two distinct yet interrelated components of a Quality Management system. Quality Assurance is the first step toward quality management to defining the process and practices. Quality Control is to check issues and rectify them to sustain quality management. Quality Assurance is a part of the Production cycle whereas Quality Control is a part of the testing cycle. The software development process also follows the same method of Software Quality Assurance and Software Quality Control methods. Let’s figure out the key points between Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control with examples.

Differences between Quality Assurance and Quality Control.


Quality Assurance

Quality Control

1.

Guide to protect against defects to assure quality.

Aims to figure out defects and rectify them to ensure quality.

2

Quality Assurance is part of the Production cycle or the complete product development life cycle.

Quality control is part of the Testing cycle.

3

Aims to ensure that all quality requirements are met.

Aims to figure out if there are any requirements parameters unfulfilled.

4

It engages in managing quality.

It engages in verifying and validating the quality.

5

Q.A takes Proactive measures to prevent defects and ensure quality.

Q.C takes a Reactive measure to identify the defects.

6

QA process comes after a Quality control check.

QC process takes place before QA to maintain quality.

7

Q.A is process oriented.

QC is product oriented.

8

Q.A examples – guidelines that include all the standards, the design of the product, packaging, manufacturing, distribution, etc.

QC examples include batch inspection of manufactured products, validation tests, etc.

Why Quality Management is important in Manufacturing Operations?

Quality management is a crucial practice for the Manufacturing and service industries to ensure the quality of delivery. It is a two-step process that includes Quality assurance and Quality control to ensure the quality of a particular product being manufactured by the industry. The manufacturers need to maintain consistency in quality assurance and quality control. Quality assurance vs Quality control in manufacturing, therefore, ensure total quality management. QC in manufacturing highlights the importance of thorough examination and testing of the product quality to find defects. 

Quality management systems create a robust framework of processes for leadership, planning, support, operation, and monitoring and improvement to maintain and develop quality and customer satisfaction. 

Customer loyalty is essential to the manufacturers. Customers will stick around if the company consistently fulfills the quality requirement. In manufacturing, Quality assurance is the process of monitoring production operation, machinery, raw materials, and that are free from defects to ensure the quality of the finished product before production. Quality control is the process of verifying and correcting defects in the finished products before making them to customers. Manufacturers tend to focus on Quality management to avoid the company’s bad reputation and customers’ dissatisfaction.

Quality management benefits the Manufacturers with reduced manufacturing costs and less material wastage. Quality control also ensures maximum utilization of available resources by minimizing wastage and inefficiency of every kind.

Quality control ensures the production of quality products that attract more customers for the product thereby increasing sales. It is greatly helpful  in maintaining existing demand and creating new demand for the product as well. A structured QC approach is a part of a successful manufacturing process and provides better control of the production process. 

By implementing a renowned quality management system such as ISO 9001, a business can also improve its reputation, attracting both new business and the best resource. ISO 9001’s Plan, Do, Check, Act Cycle can help manufacturers to identify risks, develop strategies to deal with them, monitor and evaluate the results, and create improvements for a stronger and better performance.

Standard and Metrics for Q.A and Q.C: 

Manufacturers or Plant managers strive to ensure that their plants comply with high-quality standards. One of the best ways to achieve this is to monitor the quality parameters, delivery speed, and related metrics. There are certain global standards and metrics being followed as part of Quality management practice:

      • The following points are high-level quality metrics measured in the manufacturing industry.

1. Time-based metrics: Apply to measure the time it takes to perform a production and test cycle on daily basis. The time-based efficiency metrics can be calculated as below.

2. Manufacturing Cycle Time: It is the amount of time that takes from manufacturing order to production to finished goods. 

a) Throughput time = Process time +testing time + move time + Queue time

b) Changeover Time: The time it takes to switch a line to another product.

3. Rejection/Scrap rate: The reliability of products as measured by the probability of rejection over a period. Product rejection may include all the internal scrap, damage, color issues, and other quality parameter failures. Scrap rate is calculated as the percentage of materials sent to production that never become part of finished products.  

a) The scrap rate can be calculated as

Scrap Rate Calculation

4. Cost of quality: It is one of the most important quality metrics to be considered for a better run-rate of production operations. The actual cost of quality includes the cost of poor quality and the cost of assured quality. 

b) The cost of quality can be calculated as 

				
					Cost of quality= cost of poor quality+ cost of good quality
				
			

5. OEE metrics: Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) is an effective metric to measure productivity and quality efficiency. Improving the OEE will help to reduce manufacturing cycle times and improves performance to meet customer commitments on time. OEE is calculated as availability multiplied by performance and quality.

a) Three-component metrics of OEE can be calculated as:

Three components of OEE metrics

6. Delivery metrics: There are two major components of delivery metrics to be measured concerning delivery up to customers’ satisfaction and efficiency.

a) On-time delivery (OTD) is calculated as the percentage of units delivered within the OTD window.

b) Perfect order metric (POM) or fill rate is the percentage of orders that deliver complete, on-time, damage-free, and with a correct invoice.

To calculate this, each component of this metric gets multiplied together as:   

				
					POM=(%complete) x (%on time) x (%damage free) x (%correctly invoiced).
				
			

Tools to monitor Quality Control

Quality control tools are used as a systematic method to analyze manufacturing performance data. Based on the data analysis, measures are taken to monitor, manage and improve the quality of a manufactured product. There are seven tools used for quality control in manufacturing industries to understand the impact of quality and prepare the process to address it. These are used for the purpose of identification and analysis of Quality checks.

 
Tools to monitor Quality Control

i) Flowchart: Flowcharts are a pictorial representation that indicates a series of steps involved in a factory floor operation. Flow charts help to identify the errors likely to be found in the manufacturing processes. It also provides a picture of inputs, activities, decision points, and outputs that helps to detect and analyze the errors in the QC process.

Flow Chart

ii) Histogram: Histogram is a bar chart that visualizes attributes and variable data of manufacturing processes. It also shows the measures of central tendency of mean, mode, and average. The histogram provides the user with the distribution of data and the amount of variation within a manufacturing process or operation. 

iii) Check sheet: Check sheets are certain formats that aid the user in recording data systematically. These data are collected and tabulated in the form of a check sheet to record the frequency of specific events during the data collection period. Check-sheets are used in the auditing of quality assurance.

Check Sheet

iv) Cause-effect diagram: Cause-and-effect diagram also known as the ‘fishbone’ diagram can be used to analyze the root cause of a manufacturing problem and helps to solve it accordingly. Each major branch of the diagram corresponds to a major cause that directly relates to the effect. This tool is useful in any analysis as it depicts the relationship between cause and effect in a rational manner.

v) Pareto chart: Pareto charts are extremely useful as they can be used to identify the prioritized quality problems, conditions, or their causes in the operation. It is a type of bar chart that shows the relative importance of variables, in descending order from left to right side of the chart. Pareto charts are used to quickly identify what manufacturing issues need priority attention.

Pareto Chart
Example of a Pareto chart

vi) Control chart: Control charts are a special form of run-charts that depicts the amount and nature of variation in the process over time in manufacturing. It is a useful tool to monitor performance and processes in an operation. The main aim of a control chart is to identify and prevent defects in a manufacturing process.

The Upper and lower lines indicate Upper Control Limit (UCL) and Lower Control Limit (LCL)

vii) Scatter chart: Scatter charts are diagrams or graphs that depict the influence of one variable on another. The main use of scatter charts is to detect and analyze a pattern relationship between two quality and compliance variables.

Example of a scatter chart

Roles and responsibilities of Q.A specialist

The Quality Assurance specialist is the one responsible for ensuring that all the production processes are controlled and monitored to ensure quality and compliance. The primary responsibility of a quality assurance specialist is to oversee the implementation of the quality control process at each stage of manufacturing. A quality assurance specialist works closely with various groups on the factory floor to meet this. Manufacturers incorporate Quality Assurance systems and procedures while,

a) Purchasing and receiving raw materials.

b) Manufacturing the final products.

c) Packaging the final products.

The roles and responsibilities of a QA specialist include:

i) To collect and compile statistical quality data.

ii) To analyze data to identify areas for improvement in the quality system.

iii) To evaluate the adequacy of quality assurance standards.

iv) To ensure proper sorting, grading, and rejecting of materials.

v) To ensure the system and SOPs are followed for the acceptance, rejection, and in-process material.

vi) To develop, recommend, and monitor corrective and preventive actions.

vii) To make sure the product goes through auditing and testing.

viii) To identify if there are training requirements to meet the quality standard.

ix) To identify potential sources of error and suggest ways to eliminate them.

x) To keep a check on customers’ feedback and complaints.

xi) To develop strategies for the improved production process.

xii) To monitor risk management activities etc.

xiii) To assess supplier and service providers’ quality and approve as per the risk profiles.

Conclusion:

Quality Assurance and Quality Control are essential processes in the manufacturing operations to meet the quality commitments. Implementing the quality practice or QA vs QC software solutions helps manufacturers to save time in productivity, reduce wastage costs, and effectively utilize all available resources. The implementation of quality management practice results in improved product quality, higher productivity, improved cycle time, higher customer satisfaction, improved supplier performance, stronger employee efficiency, and increased return on investment and market share. 

Hence, manufacturers tend to adopt MES (Manufacturing Execution System), MRP (Manufacturing Resource Planning), or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software that is incorporated with the QA system for better quality management. Diagnostic quality information captured by MES systems helps the manufacturers to decide on how the product is to be manufactured for optimum efficiency and quality. Integrating Quality Management with an MES has many benefits for the manufacturers, like standardizing processes, achieving full traceability, expediting audits, and digitalizing QA checks.  MES with integrated QA features enables the factory floor to digitize the whole operation, feeding the QA data into a centralized system automatically.

 

 

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