Product quality is pivotal for a company's survival in a fiercely competitive market. No one wishes to encounter quality issues with their products, bear the subsequent responsibilities, and betray the trust of their customers.
This article delves deeply into the reasons behind quality issues and elaborates on how to control product quality. By the end of this read, you'll gain a comprehensive understanding of product quality control, ensuring that your orders meet the highest standards. So, is product quality produced or inspected?
Firstly, production precedes inspection. Only after a product is manufactured can it be inspected. Without a product, inspection is moot, let alone determining its quality. Hence, production is proactive, while inspection is reactive.
The notion that "product quality is produced, not inspected" was initially confined to quality inspection in the early days of quality management. However, merely relying on post-production checks cannot guarantee product quality.
Quality assurance is achieved only when every step of the production process strictly adheres to the production techniques and operational guidelines. Ignoring process control and solely depending on inspection won't elevate product quality.
Quality inspection can only weed out defective and substandard products, not enhance inherent quality. Therefore, the emphasis of quality control should be during the manufacturing phase.
Why Do Quality Issues Arise?
1. Issues Not Addressed Before Development
If problems aren't adequately addressed before product development, it can lead to quality issues. For instance, if untested raw materials are used in car parts production, the final product might have defects, leading to an increased rejection rate.
2. Insufficient Inspection Frequency
Some companies hope to reduce defects by increasing inspection frequency. However, if the frequency isn't high enough or lacks proper standards and methods, it can't accurately detect quality issues, leading to undetected and unresolved problems.
3. Use of Unverified Recycled or Substandard Materials
Under client demands and upper management pressure, some companies might use recycled or substandard materials during production. If these materials aren't adequately tested beforehand, it's challenging to gauge the fluctuations in product quality, leading to potential quality issues.
4. Discrepancy Between Standards and Reality
Some companies continue to produce products based on old standards, even after the industry has elevated its quality benchmarks. Failing to promptly adjust the production process and technical parameters means that the product quality cannot meet the new standards, leading to quality issues.
5. Undetected Non-human Errors in Production
At times, issues arising during the production process aren't due to human errors but are caused by production equipment or technical parameters. However, if these non-human errors aren't detected within the inspection frequency, they can easily be overlooked, resulting in quality problems.
The aforementioned points highlight some common reasons for quality issues. Each reason corresponds to a link in the quality management system, necessitating appropriate quality control to ensure product quality. Relying solely on quality inspectors or the quality management department to address these issues is insufficient. Therefore, when implementing quality management, it's crucial to delegate control responsibilities to personnel in optimal positions, ensuring the comprehensive effectiveness of quality management.
Let's delve into a few real-life cases to understand how these issues lead to quality problems:
Case Study 1: Black Spot Issue on Car Parts
A company, while manufacturing car parts, used a material named ABS (750SQ). However, the finished plastic parts exhibited numerous black spots, rendering the product substandard and causing significant losses for the company. It turned out that the company hadn't sufficiently tested this material before use, failing to identify potential issues, which led to quality problems during production.
Case Study 2: Odor Issue with White Films
A company produced white films for milk packaging. Despite passing all inspection criteria, the product was dispatched. However, the end-users noticed an unpleasant odor from the film and subsequently lodged complaints against the company. Due to this quality issue, the company lost orders amounting to several hundred tons. Fortunately, the end-users hadn't processed the film; otherwise, the consequences would have been even more severe.
Case Study 3: Color Discrepancy in Engineering Masterbatches
A company producing engineering masterbatches faced issues due to lax color control, resulting in color discrepancies in plastic parts made from their product. This led customers to abandon the company's plastic products. The root cause was the company's failure to strictly control color during production, leading to product quality deviations.
Case Study 4: Bubble Issues in Plastic Products
A plastic product manufacturer faced bubble issues in their products due to inadequate moisture control. These bubbles rendered a vast quantity of plastic products non-compliant, leading to the return of several tons of plastic and compensations for the incurred losses.
From the cases mentioned above, it's evident that quality issues frequently arise in the plastics industry. It's unjust to solely blame the quality inspection or quality management departments for these issues. Every link in the quality management system requires quality control, and control responsibilities should be delegated to personnel in optimal positions to ensure comprehensive product quality assurance.
Understanding these cases is instrumental in grasping the reasons behind quality issues and their solutions. Only by addressing quality problems at their root can a company effectively enhance its competitiveness and product reputation. The next time we encounter similar quality issues, it's worth reflecting on the aforementioned reasons to determine if the problem lies within these areas. This targeted approach can help resolve issues, improve product quality, and boost customer satisfaction.
How to Holistically Control Product Quality?
Product quality control is an integrated process involving design, production, process control, and quality management. Below, we'll introduce some crucial core concepts and illustrate how to holistically control product quality through narrative case studies.
1. Design Phase Determines Product Quality
The product's direction is primarily set during the design phase, and quality control begins here. A well-conceived design provides guidance for the subsequent production process, reducing the occurrence of quality issues. Therefore, the design phase requires reviews from multiple parties, and once the design plan is confirmed, it shouldn't be altered lightly.
Case Study: A car manufacturing company, while designing a new model, ensured that the design team thoroughly considered market demands. Through multiple reviews and market research, they finalized the design plan. This plan was thoroughly validated during production, ensuring the product's quality consistency and reliability.
2. Quantitative Process Control and Traceability
Process control is a pivotal link in ensuring product quality. By employing quantitative and traceable methods, every detail in the production process can be effectively controlled and managed.
Case Study: An electronics manufacturing company quantitatively controlled the production process of every component. Through data collection and analysis, they identified a seemingly minor issue. By promptly investigating and rectifying this issue, they ultimately enhanced product quality and stability.
3. Patiently Address Issues and Identify the Root Cause
When faced with quality issues, it's crucial to remain patient and trace back to the underlying cause. Hastily altering the production process might merely mask the problem rather than genuinely resolving it. It's essential to conduct thorough research and analysis from various angles, pinpoint the exact point of deviation, and persistently address it.
Case Study: A food processing factory encountered product quality issues during its production phase. Initially, they attributed it to a process-related problem. However, after patient research and analysis, they discovered that the actual issue stemmed from a change in the quality of the raw materials. By communicating and collaborating with the supplier for improvements, they resolved the issue, ensuring the consistent quality of the product.
4. Preventive Mindset
The pinnacle of quality management is prevention rather than post-issue rectification. It's crucial to identify risks in advance and manage them. By monitoring and recognizing early signs, one can prevent the occurrence of quality issues.
Case Study: A pharmaceutical company, during its production process, monitored and analyzed key process parameter changes using the SPC (Statistical Process Control) method. By pre-establishing control limits, they took timely measures before any critical parameter went out of range, preventing potential product quality issues.
5. Management Perspective
Establishing a management mindset for quality control is vital. Relying solely on technicians isn't enough; ensuring product quality consistency requires oversight of the entire production process. It's essential to draw experiences from various aspects like personnel, machinery, materials, methods, environment, and measurement, and continuously refine and enhance process control requirements.
Case Study: An appliance manufacturing company ensured comprehensive management of the production process, making sure every step met process control requirements. They emphasized training their staff, set strict process standards, and regularly assessed product quality to ensure its consistency and reliability.
6. Listening to Opinions and Suggestions
During the product quality control process, it's essential to actively seek and consider feedback from various sources. Outsiders often have a clearer perspective, and their insights can introduce new viewpoints and approaches, helping identify potential issues and areas for improvement.
Case Study: A cosmetics company frequently interacted with their frontline workers during the production process. Through these communications, they gathered invaluable feedback and suggestions, leading to further enhancements in product quality control and manufacturing techniques.
7. Implementation of Measures
Identifying and resolving issues doesn't mark the end of quality control efforts. It's crucial to ensure the practical implementation of the measures, starting from assembly and inspection posts. This includes staff training, evaluations, and the execution of shift systems.
Case Study: After addressing product quality issues, an automobile assembly plant formulated relevant measures and conducted training and evaluations at assembly and inspection posts. They also introduced a two-shift system to ensure the effective implementation of measures and maintain quality consistency.
8. Spot Checks
Lastly, it's vital to establish a spot-check plan to periodically verify and assess the implementation of product quality control measures. Continuous checks and refinements are the keys to ensuring comprehensive product quality control.
Case Study: An electronics manufacturing company regularly conducted spot checks on quality management, inspecting and evaluating control measures across various stages. Through these checks, they promptly identified and rectified issues, enhancing the product's quality consistency and reliability.
In the intricate tapestry of product manufacturing, quality control stands out as a cornerstone that determines a product's success and a company's reputation. As we've seen through various case studies and insights, a proactive, comprehensive approach to quality management is indispensable. From the initial design phase to the final spot checks, every step requires meticulous attention and continuous refinement.
As the market evolves and consumer expectations rise, those who prioritize and master quality control will undoubtedly lead the way, setting benchmarks for others to follow. At this juncture, it's worth noting that SVI Global has been at the forefront of supply chain management for over 20 years.
With countless projects under our belt, we possess the expertise and experience to address quality control challenges professionally and effectively. We are committed to ensuring that our clients' orders are delivered to their utmost satisfaction.
If you're seeking a partner who understands the nuances of quality control and can guarantee exceptional results, look no further than SVI Global. Let us be your trusted ally in achieving excellence.