Tags Posts tagged with "quality control"

quality control

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When Quality Fails - ISO Update

Standards function to provide the end-user with quality products and services, but they also protect the vitality and reputation of a business. Your system should be built in such a way that it is constantly putting measures and checkpoints in place that does not allow product to leave your hands until it is safe, and up to yours and your customers’ standards. So, how does a product of subpar quality leave your plant? Who is responsible? How did your management system allow this failure to happen? When your product fails, or worse, you must issue a recall and you want to assign blame. Who is to blame? Why did your system fail you?

Case Study – Toyota Unintended Acceleration Recall, 2009

If an auto manufacturer finds flaws in their cars and lists a product recall, the public’s perception of this company will suffer. No greater example of this exists than the 2009 recall of Toyota sedans.

Toyota issued a recall of 8.5 million of their sedans in 2009 due to unintended acceleration caused by floor mat issues, brake problems and “sticky” gas pedals. The recall was issued in response to accidental deaths and provides an example of the grave consequences that may arise from poor execution of a QMS. In this case study, findings suggest that Toyota ignored quality warnings when failures began to happen. This is not a problem that is exclusive to Toyota, but rather an industry, and worldwide, problem. Read the full case study here.

InfoTrend dives into the deteriorated public opinion of Toyota immediately following the recall from the period of 2009-2011 in the United States. They deeply investigated the effects the media had on the public’s opinion, and how the recall shaped their opinion of the brand, being pro-, con- or neutral about the brand.

In 2014, Simply Communicate discussed the strategy Toyota took to rebuild their company image, and their internal culture and morale after the damage took its toll on the company. The shift in the culture at Toyota was substantial, losing talent, working hard to keep talent, and striving to keep employees, even if it meant shifting their jobs, all without losing more profits.

The NHTSA has a handy recall check for those in North America to verify their VIN number against any product recall it may be involved in.

It’s not easy to bounce back from catastrophic product failure, and that is especially true for organizations without multi-millions of profits and bail-out opportunities. It is the goal of a properly implemented ISO 9001 QMS to prevent these failures from happening in the first place. How did my system allow this failure to happen?

How does Failure Occur, and who is to Blame for a Product Failure?

If, or when, a product failure occurs, your organization shouldn’t point fingers. The first question you need to ask is “how did my quality management system allow this failure to occur?”. A simple investigation tactic you may want to implement is “Root-Cause Analysis – 5 Whys”. This method prompts you to ask yourself and your organization “why” until you have a root-cause (this could take fewer or more than 5 “why’s”). The basic framework allows you to develop pathways for why a failure happened in the first place, and where you can identify areas for improvement.

Read more about the 5-Why’s Method and Root-Cause Analysis from ISixSigma

Failures should not be a cause for removal of your certification or attempted to be hidden from your auditor. Failures, especially those caught by your system, should be celebrated. Consider them an indication that your system is working if the problem is caught, and an area for improvement is identified. Feedback is essential for growth, and even negative feedback should be viewed in a positive light and mentality.

Why is Quality Important for My Business?

The aim of any business is to maintain quality to an acceptable standard and failure to do so can result in any number of serious consequences. Quality control is important to guarantee customer satisfaction and more importantly retention. Customers are only likely to be retained and return for another experience if previous services have lived up to their expectations of a certain quality. More importantly, quality also has an effect on company reputation which is paramount to attracting new customers and profits.

Perhaps to customers, the quality of goods or services is the most important aspect of your company, this role proves to be vitally important for the survival and growth of an organization. Maintaining consistent quality without incurring massive costs should then be a primary goal for any organization.

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Improving your Quality Management System is simpler than you think. By learning about ways to improve, you are already well on your way to achieving success with your organization or auditor training. Follow these 10 simple suggestions and you will see changes.

10 Simple Ways to Improve your Quality Management System

1. Commit to improvement

For any QMS to improve, it is essential that everyone is committed to seeking problems, evaluating efficiency and effectiveness of processes and implementing better and improved ideas. Management should be the first to make this commitment and if management “walks the talk” then everyone will follow.

2. Analyse and assess current QMS

Organizations need to take a closer look at their current practices in order to identify any gaps between what is being done and what should be done. This can be achieved by interviewing workers in critical control points, reviewing procedures and records and observing how processes are occurring. Any steps that are not adding value to the process, the system or the organization must be identified, removed or improved.

3. Include everyone in training programs

A QMS is not the responsibility of one person or one department. Everyone must be involved in improving the quality of products, services and processes.

Organizations should establish a training program for new employees and existing ones.  These programs should promote knowledge, produce skills and capacities and reduce resistance when implementing new ideas for improvement.

4. Define clear goals and objectives

QMS should aim at achieving specific goals. If a clear path is not drawn, there’s a risk that people will be working real hard but in different directions. Time should be spent in assuring everyone knows these goals, how they’ll be achieved, how they’re measured and periodically they should be informed of where the organization is standing in relation to these goals.

5. Use the correct key performance indicators

Organizations need to carefully select and review their KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators). KPI’s let an organization know how efficient and effective processes are, and indicate where possible problems could be. If they are not giving a real overall picture of where the organization is at regarding quality, then another look should be taken to change or improve what and how performance is being measured.

6. Listen to the suggestion

Create a system that will promote workers and customers to share improvement ideas. Many great improvement ideas come directly from the people processing a product or the people that actually use it.

7. Give credit

Giving credit to those who deserve it encourage participation throughout the organization and motivates workers by recognizing their work and their ideas. Compensation or recognition should not necessarily be monetary, a simple public recognition in working meetings to can have great effects in lifting workers morale.

8. Make the system simple

A QMS that is extremely complex and overloaded with documents is not necessarily the best one. If documents and procedures are long and complicated, it is very likely that people will never use them.

Evaluate the system and make sure that it makes sense and that it’s as simple as possible.

9. Create quality groups

Some organizations face difficulty with workers from different departments or areas that are reluctant with sharing information. By bringing together people from different areas to evaluate processes and recommend improvements, an open and more effective communication can be achieved between areas that operationally seem to be apart.

10. Have a quality attitude

In order to reach the goals that have been set, organizations need to identify and detect problems and weaknesses but they must focus on improvements. If managers are constantly focusing on failures and defects and not on how to remove or improve them, the right attitude and mindset for quality will never be achieved.

Learn how to prepare your company for the ISO Implementation Process.

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Quality Control and Quality Assurance
Quality Control and Quality Assurance are both players of the same team and it is not possible to guarantee customer satisfaction if either one is missing.

Quality Control and Quality Assurance are both aspects of an organization’s quality management system (QMS), and even though they are closely related concepts, they are different in many ways. Understanding their differences is fundamental for any organization to effectively manage its resources and processes in order to deliver quality products and services.

To start, one of their main differences is that Quality Assurance is a prevention strategy oriented to prevent defects and Quality Control is a detection strategy oriented to detect defects. Here, an explanation of some of their differences is presented.

Focus of Quality Control and Quality Assurance:

  • Quality Assurance aims to prevent defects with a focus on the process that produces the product or service; thus it is process oriented.
  • Quality Control aims to detect (and correct) defects in the finished product, which makes it product oriented.

Goal of Quality Control and Quality Assurance:

  • The goal of Quality Assurance is to develop processes and procedures that will ensure that quality products and services are produced.
  • The goal of Quality Control is to check the products and services for defects that may have arisen during their development in order to deliver defect-free products or services to customers.

How Quality Control and Quality Assurance are Conducted:

  • Quality Assurance is conducted by establishing and defining standards and methodologies that must be followed during a process to ensure products and services meet customer requirements.
  • Quality Control is carried out by conducting tests and inspections to detect errors and flaws in products or services.

When Quality Control and Quality Assurance are Conducted:

  • Quality Assurance is a proactive process that takes place before the product or service is produced or delivered.
  • Quality Control is a reactive process that is performed during the manufacturing process and after the products are produced.

Despite their differences, Quality Assurance and Quality Control are both players of the same team and it is not possible to guarantee customer satisfaction if either one is missing. Achieving success requires both; if only Quality Assurance is applied, there will be no way of knowing if the procedures and processes are producing the expected outcomes. On the other hand, if only Quality Control is conducted an organization will not have a way of making repeatable and reliable results.

Quality is ensured by an organization performing the right tasks in the right way and by making sure that their efforts have produced the expected results. Quality Assurance and Quality Control complement each other and both these processes provide the necessary information for the continuous improvement of a QMS that meets the requirements of an organization’s customers.