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Why Quality Control Is Essential in Supply Chains
Quality control is an important part of any industry. Without it, subpar or defective products can make it to customers, and time and money will be wasted fixing any errors. We discuss why quality control is essential in supply chains and how quality control in production can be improved.
Why is quality control important?
Reduces manufacturing defects
Because of the many stages in a supply chain product journey, there are also many times when things can go wrong. For example, right at the beginning of the product journey, raw materials could be flawed which will affect every subsequent stage and increase the defect rate of finished goods.
Using flawed or inferior materials may also come with extra costs to refine them before they can be used. Quality control from the very beginning will drastically reduce the chance of costly defects.
Reduces the chance of costly returns
Most products will be sold with a warranty but, without the proper quality control, the chance of those products breaking, wearing out or otherwise expiring before the warranty period is over increases, resulting in a loss of income from customers making returns or replacement products having to be made. Products not lasting the length of the warranty will also harm your business’s reputation and potentially your relationship with external suppliers.
Improves efficient use of labour
One way to ensure product quality is through implementing manual inspections, but these are costly and could be unnecessary if proper quality control procedures are in place at each stage. If you have to use employees for inspecting finished-good inventory, then you are losing time that could be used for value-added activities instead.
Reduces the chance of safety breaches
Having proper quality control procedures in place will also help to prevent safety issues, such as employees being exposed to hazardous or toxic materials. Noncompliance with regulations regarding the use, handling or transportation of hazardous materials could also lead to fines or other punishments.
Steps for improving quality control in production
Set measurable quality standards
Your processes should be the first thing you look at when trying to improve your quality control. This may mean streamlining certain processes or servicing and upgrading any manufacturing equipment that requires it, but the first thing you will need to do is set a measurable set of quality standards that can be adhered to in every department and are specific to each point of the production process. Wherever these measurable standards are not being met is where you need to start making improvements.
Use customer feedback to gather further data on quality
You might not be able to identify all the quality issues with your products, but your customers can potentially offer a fresh perspective. By gathering feedback from your customers on your products, you can gain data that you can use to identify where quality control standards need to be improved. Even when you believe any errors have been dealt with, continuous assessment of product quality is key to staying competitive, and customer feedback can be invaluable.
Ensure cleanliness standards are met
Keeping a workspace clean and organised is about more than just hygiene; it also reduces the chance of potential injury and production errors. Just as you should have measurable quality control standards in place for your production processes, you should also have measurable standards for your workspace tidiness and cleanliness, on which staff should be trained. These standards should also be monitored to ensure they are met.
Ensure all equipment is running efficiently
A reduction in quality can often be caused by machinery or equipment that is not up to standard. That is why, as part of your efforts to improve quality control, you should be ensuring that all equipment is serviced and maintained regularly. If any equipment is outdated, then it should be replaced with an upgraded model.
Ensure all employees are properly trained
All of the above strategies can only be effective if your employees at all levels are on the same page. This will involve initial and ongoing training, testing such as with unscheduled equipment/machinery use tests and disciplinary action where required if negligence is found. Certifications are available in quality assurance, and having managers and supervisors complete these will set the standard for the rest of your staff and aid with in-house training quality.
Hopefully you now understand the critical important of quality control in supply chains – if you have any questions about how to implement this in your supply chain, you can contact us.