Production Quality: how to make it happen?

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Despite guidelines, prevention and training, errors can occur in the production workshop. A screw in a food tray, glove torn apart in the mix, bad machine programming... examples abound. So, how to implement production quality? Here is a reminder.


The production department has various responsibilities in terms of quality: they must follow fixed guidelines, carry out the product control scheduled in the control plan, set up actions when there’s any kind of non-conformity, while keeping the staff motivated and ensuring their training at the workplace.


Why apply quality in production?

Despite guidelines, prevention, or even training, mistakes could still be made in the production workshop.


It could be:

  • Unintentional human errors: these are unconscious, unintentional and unpredictable errors. It is therefore necessary to maintain the vigilance of operators (job rotation, presence of managers, awareness, audits) and set up anti-error systems (like Poka-yoke, masks or supports)
  • Human errors due to incompetence: this type of error is often predictable. It is therefore necessary to ensure that operators are competent and certified, and above all properly trained.
  • Human errors committed intentionally: it is rare but still possible. But the real question to ask is "why would an operator have an interest in sabotaging their work if management provides a satisfactory working environment?"


Therefore, to ensure "zero defects" quality, it is necessary to learn to control production quality. In the workshops, the search for prevention is omnipresent. It is essential to have an effective non-conformity detection system and to define everyone's responsibilities.


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How is Quality achieved?

Here, the workshop manager is the one who organizes their team: they are the one who trains, raises awareness and informs about the results. They provide the necessary resources for their employees to ensure daily quality control.


Operators follow the guidelines provided by their workshop manager, alert them in case of doubt, monitor their work, and suggest areas for improvement.  


There are multiple ways to ensure quality in the production workshop, and many tasks need to be performed in order to achieve the objectives.


How to implement quality in the workshop?

The prerequisites

Two steps are required for implementing quality within the production environment: 


  • Create a suitable working environment

First, the workshop manager ensures that appropriate resources are made available. This requires the implementation of document management: following established guidelines, drafting of manufacturing guidelines and procedures...


There are written procedures in case of detection of nonconformities, and record sheets are made available for self-checks.


The machines must be adequate, secure, and have been subject to a prior check before being put into operation (and a regular check!).


  • Ensure that human resources are made available

Staff must be trained, sensitized and certified to ensure quality control. It is imperative to know who controls what, how, with all the necessary information about self-checking. 


Daily application in the field


Once these two steps have been implemented, production will play a central role in quality control on a daily basis: 


  • Assessment of the quality level of manufactured products

Using FMEA and Control Plan it is easy to define Control Points that need to be  measured or checked. Thanks to accumulated data it will be possible to establish a statistical analysis of the data from the production. This analysis necessarily involves the implementation of relevant indicators  like Cpk or other that will be monitored on a daily or more periodic basis. 


  • Product control

Production follows the established self-checking plan to ensure product conformity. All self-checks must be registered as shown on the plan! These elements are then checked by the EHSQ department and the production manager.


Operators must ensure that the equipment used for controls is reliable and calibrated.

For the control, operators must be designated at each workstation to prevent any risk of omission. On sensitive data such as CCPs (Critical Control Points), the operator must have been previously trained at least once a year.


Digital can also be a major ally in the implementation of quality controls: with automated checklists or tablets/smartphones on which you can report nonconformities for example. No more paper printing problems, operators will have tools at their disposal to ease their daily work and data entry. 


  • Management of nonconformities

Production must be able to detect nonconformities, alert the person in charge, and implement immediate control measures. The space has to be organized in order to isolate the products concerned.


  • Quality improvement on a daily basis

Working groups can be created to discuss areas for improvement: in general, these groups will have at least one person from the ESHQ department and the workshop manager.  Also, it is now a very common practice to use QRQC tables which could be digitized, showing the most common nonconformities as well as implemented PDCA. The PDCA will run as a common thread and will allow the group to work collectively on the processes. The EHSQ department will help the production department to implement actions following nonconformities.


There are multiple approaches to optimize and achieve quality within production. Workshop and ESQ managers will support operators on a daily basis and will make them aware of the process.  


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EHSQ and Strategy