Why Is Quality Important in Manufacturing?
As someone who works in the manufacturing business, you’ve no doubt given quite a lot of thought to the idea of quality. The more you think about it, though, the more you may find it difficult to define. Practically, you might think of quality as a scale ranging from perfect to utterly disastrous. Whenever you manufacture an item or a product, it will inevitably fall somewhere on the scale. If it is on the end of the scale closer to perfect, we refer to it as high-quality, and if it falls on the other end, we might say it is low-quality.
It doesn’t take a scientific study to realize higher quality will always be preferable to lower quality. But just how crucial is quality when it comes to manufacturing? How important is it to have something of high-quality over medium-quality, or is it not important at all? And if you have the choice to create more items of medium quality vs. fewer items of high quality, which is the better choice?
Today, we’re going to tackle these questions and more as we examine ideas of quality control in manufacturing. We’ve put together this guide to help answer these questions as we walk through the process of how manufacturers maintain and control quality and give you our best tips for doing so. By the time you’re done reading here, you can consider yourself an expert in the ideas and principles of quality control.
Why Is Quality Control Important in Manufacturing?
Most of us would agree on an instinctual level that quality control is important everywhere — especially in the manufacturing industry. But why exactly is this? Why is it a good idea to produce the highest-quality products you can, and why is it essential to have a system in place to ensure this happens?
Here are just a few of the reasons.
1. Create Improved Products
With intensive quality-control measures in place, your products will begin to reach higher and higher qualities, which has numerous benefits for you and your company. They’ll get a better product, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that when customers buy from you, they’re truly buying the best product out there, and are genuinely getting their money’s worth.
2. Inspire Brand Loyalty
When your products are trustworthy and high-quality, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Customers pay attention to things like that. They become loyal to your brand and begin to seek you out instead of your competitors. Even if your product changes or looks slightly different, they trust it’s still the best, and they’re willing to stick with it. Even better, they may begin recommending your products to their friends and family, growing your customer base still further.
3. Comply With Regulations
You don’t need anyone to tell you about the many regulations and rules that dictate manufacturing processes and procedures. You’re surely already familiar with them. By undertaking the responsibility of your quality control measures, following these regulations won’t become an extra task. It’ll become an integral part of your operations. You can avoid delays and potential fines you might otherwise incur from not complying with regulations.
4. Become Confident and Consistent
With quality-control measures in place, you don’t have to wonder if your products are all achieving a similar level of quality. You can know for sure. Measures like these allow you to feel absolutely confident every product leaving the manufacturing floor is of equal quality, and you can sell it for the same price.
5. Conserve Your Resources
In the manufacturing industry, conserving resources is of paramount importance. Acquiring more resources means spending more money, which means lower profits all around. Because of this, it’s important to make the most of the resources you have and avoid wasting them whenever possible. Quality control is an excellent way to do this, as it helps ensure fewer mistakes and false starts, thus helping you get the most out of your materials and resources.
6. Reduce Your Level of Risk
Any time a product leaves your hands, you’re assuming a certain level of risk. The product may be defective. It may break after a single use. A customer may dislike it and avoid buying your products in the future. When you employ effective quality-control methods, however, you can drastically reduce this risk and do everything in your power to create products that will serve your customers well and build brand satisfaction and loyalty.
Quality vs. Quantity in Manufacturing
It makes sense both quality and quantity are of crucial importance in the manufacturing industry. After all, it’s essential to produce a good product, but it’s also important to create a large number of said products. Of these two critical concepts, however, which one is more crucial to your operations?
At first, it might be easy to assume quantity is of greater importance. You might argue there’s no point to a business that doesn’t produce enough products to meet the demand. This argument is valid, and there is certainly truth to it, but it doesn’t capture the full picture. To better understand why quality — instead of quantity — is the more important of the two, consider the consequences of prioritizing quantity over quality.
1. Negative Reputation
If you begin producing enormous amounts of mediocre products, it will not help your reputation. You will not become known as a brand worth buying. Your products may cost less, but you will sacrifice reliability and durability to do so, and many customers will ultimately deem them to be not worth their money.
2. More Competition
In almost every case, there tends to be more competition among low-quality products than among high. Because of this, if you produce low-quality goods, you will face stiffer competition.
3. Risk of Legal Action
If your low-quality products break and harm customers, you could potentially be opening yourself up to all manner of legal action and lawsuits, which could result in fines, delays and ultimately a decline in reputation for your entire company.
4. Little Room for Growth
If you begin by producing low-end products, it is often highly difficult to grow and expand. You’ll encounter suspicion when you attempt to expand your brand to include higher-end products, as few customers trust supposedly high-quality products manufactured by a company known for making cheap items.
How to Improve Quality Control in Manufacturing
Hopefully, you’re convinced as to the importance of having quality standards in manufacturing. Of course, it isn’t enough to simply believe in the importance of quality control. While understanding it is important, the second step is to begin practicing what you preach and designing and implementing quality-control methods into your manufacturing processes.
If you’re new to this and not completely sure where to begin, we understand. To help you get started, here are a few of our best tips for setting up effective quality control standards.
1. Think Like a Team
It’s almost impossible to change anything as an individual. To implement any real and meaningful change or to get a movement to pick up momentum, it is necessary to think and act as a collective. This truth is consistent throughout all of life, especially in the manufacturing arena.
Embrace the idea of involving every team and department in your search for improved quality. Ask for their ideas on how to improve your processes, and listen to their suggestions. Ask for everyone’s help in supporting and implementing the ideas people put forward. Explain the importance of this shared goal, and make sure your entire team is united in the goal of delivering consistently high-quality products.
If you are working together as a team, it will be much, much easier than if only a few scattered individuals are attempting to impose the new standards on everyone else. People will also be more enthusiastic in supporting your ideas if they had a hand in creating them.
If you’re feeling unsure about involving people from every area of your operations, consider this: People from different departments will have different knowledge and experience. They may have insight into a part of your operations that you don’t. By opening yourself to them and their ideas, you just might gain valuable information that would otherwise have gone unnoticed.
2. Think Like the Customer
One of the difficulties manufacturers often encounter is trying to define improvement. After all, many manufacturers may feel their product is already quite good, and they may struggle to see where there is room for improvement.
If this is the position you find yourself in, we have a trick for you to try. Imagine you are the customer. Where would you find room for improvement? Would you like it if the product lasted longer? Maybe you would find yourself annoyed by the product’s lack of reliability. Would you wish for greater customizability? Would you be irritated by the overly complicated way the product works? Note any concerns you think a customer might have.
Going through this thought process may be difficult, as you are personally invested in your products. To effectively take on the mindset of the customer, do your best to divorce yourself from your personal interests in the products. Try to see it for the first time, and ask yourself what your impression of the product would be if someone else had created it. If you wouldn’t buy it, the odds are good your customers won’t want to, either.
3. Solve Problems Before Distribution
As a manufacturer, one of your worst nightmares should be a scenario where a product is already reaching your customers’ hands, only for you to find out there is a horrible problem with the product. It can be extremely expensive to fix this dilemma. It either involves recalling your products or traveling to customers who have already purchased your products to offer solutions.
One way you can avoid this expensive scenario is to solve problems in-house. If there is even the slightest hint something might be a bit off, don’t sign off on the product. Keep working until you feel confident the product will behave as it is supposed to.
4. Don’t Half-Solve Problems
This relates to the previous idea of solving problems in-house. Don’t be satisfied by a half-solution. Don’t slap a Band-Aid on a problem and call it “good enough.” In manufacturing, there is no such thing as “good enough.” You shouldn’t ship your products out until you’re confident your team has solved every issue 100 percent, and problems won’t reappear after several months of usage.
As we mentioned previously, it’s cheaper and more efficient to solve the problem in the first place than it is to fix it after a customer has already discovered it. Not only this, but it will also save your reputation from being damaged by a customer finding out you shipped out faulty products.
5. Discipline Deviations From Protocol
A mistake is one thing. They happen to the best of us, and you should meet them with understanding and opportunities for second chances. No worker alive has ever completed their work every day without ever making a single mistake, and it is unrealistic for you to expect your workers to achieve this level of perfection.
However, intentional deviation from the protocol is another story altogether. If an employee has been intentionally skipping a step in the quality-control process and willfully passing on unfinished or faulty products, it’s your responsibility not to let this stand. There must be repercussions.
Any worker who behaves in such a way is not participating in the team mindset that is crucial for achieving maximum quality control. As such, it’s up to you to decide what the consequences should be. The important thing is to make it clear to your employees that anyone not willing to be a part of the team effort should not be allowed to ruin products without any kind of consequences.
Learn More About Quality Control and Related Topics
This discussion cannot even begin to cover the full breadth and width of a topic like quality control. There is always more to talk about and more to learn, and the points we’ve talked about here are just scratching the surface of the much broader discussion surrounding quality control. If you’re interested in continuing your education into this and related topics, we hope you’ll subscribe to our newsletter.
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