The importance of quality control is highlighted every couple of years when massive recalls of products bring manufacturing faults to light.
Take the infamous Takata airbag recall earlier this year, where millions of vehicles worldwide had to be fitted with replacement airbags after a design fault resulted in multiple deaths and injuries. In the majority of companies, inspections continue to be carried out manually, yet automated quality control reporting is gaining traction at all kinds of manufacturing businesses.
Manufacturers have always been at the cutting edge of automation in the production line. But paper-based processes still dominate when it comes to inspecting and reporting on products, especially for checks that robots cannot yet make. The process is made faster and smoother when employees can record the results of their checks into an automated quality control Nintex workflow.
Automated Quality Control Reports Trump Paper Processes
The traditional image of a quality control inspector is of an individual holding a clipboard and ticking off a random selection of products in the batch against a set of quality measures.
But there are serious problems with this approach:
- Filing reports takes a long time
- Paper-based forms can be easily damaged or lost
- Training employees to carry out quality control is time-consuming
- Reporting defects up the chain is inefficient, especially in large plants
- Quality control managers can suffer fatigue, especially when monitoring the same product for a long period
By introducing automated quality control processes, you eliminate many of these limitations.
Automated quality control allows you to:
- Immediately file reports and log them on a central system
- Instantaneously report any defects to a central system in the factory, where senior managers can make decisions about the problem
- Any employee can use an automated system, meaning no one person is obliged to carry out all quality control tasks
- Data from robotic quality control tools can be combined with the visual reports of human inspectors.
What Would Automated Quality Control Look Like?
Say your company manufactures rucksacks. Quality control tasks might include:
- Stress testing the bag’s straps
- Checking all zips function
- Checking the colors are correct
- Ensuring padding is in the right place
- Weighing the bag
Let’s compare automated quality control of your rucksack with paper-based processes:
- The quality controller must randomly select rucksacks by hand, then perform various tests on them which he records on hard copy checklists
- The number of bags with faults, as well as the number of bags ‘signed off’ as being good quality, is only known the next day, after the quality controller has returned his reports to the central office, where his hand-written notes are entered into a computer
- If there is a quality issue with the batch, transmitting this information up the production line can take inordinately long
An Automated Quality Control Process
- The quality controller also selects bags by hand
- She enters data about the rucksack onto her tablet, and this is immediately sent to the central office where data from her report
- If she discovers a problem, this triggers a separate workflow where information is sent directly up to a colleague in a separate part of the factory who can investigate.
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