Quality Documentation: Still adding records manually?
| Written by Mathias Pötter
Records provide evidence of conformity to all your legal and customer requirements. For ISO 9001, records must be controlled. In addition, they are essential for product liability reasons in an industrial environment.
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A pen, a piece of paper, and maybe a stopwatch, or, in the best case, an Excel spreadsheet. Surprisingly, this is the equipment for collecting production data in most factories in the information age. So how does this affect your quality management?
From early ages to mass production, the quality and quantity of data have increased dramatically. In recent times, information systems and computers empowered industrial players to store, exchange, and analyse such data more comprehensively. However, this information is still recorded and handled manually way too often.
One of the pillars of product excellence is quality management. Quality management oversees all activities and tasks needed to maintain a desired level of excellence. Quality management includes determining a quality policy, creating and implementing quality planning and assurance, and quality control and improvement. Learning from quality control is an essential part of quality management.
Data collection has been slower than other practices in manufacturing to reach the coming of age of technological change. Still today, insufficient data collection dramatically troubles the industry. It is one of the most common obstacles towards achieving higher productivity and improved quality, chiefly rooted in manual data gathering methods—these impact not only data accuracy but also management decisions.
When workers manually update an Excel sheet or use pen and paper, your production is confronted with:
Production downtime or breakdowns will remain undetected, either because unseen or deemed not relevant. Workers' subjectivity leads the assessment and, eventually, the data recording process.
Manual data collection takes time, which causes lower productivity, is easily avoidable when a machine could take over tedious and time-consuming tasks.
Real-time information is missing. In most factories, timely detection and fixing of these problems are impossible due to the interval between the event and its detection.
As a result, collected data is inconsistent, ineffective, incomplete, and inaccurate. Consequently, quality control documentation is patchy and prone to liability claims.
Your documentation is proof of quality to your customers. Automatic recording of your process steps and output supports you in many ways to counter false claims. Proper documentation shows that you have checked your products perfectly and shipped them correctly.
Additionally, you gain insights into your process black boxes and discover where errors happen frequently. Identify sources of mishaps accurately and optimise precisely your production processes.
You will no longer need to schedule resources for documentation in the future. Workers can carry out their work undisturbed. Everything runs digitally and in the background without notice.
Eventually, you can offer your quality documentation to your customers as a digital inspection record, saving your customer time from carrying out the incoming goods inspection - it has been done already!