By PHIL DE JAGER
The Importance of Quality Standards
‘Quality standards’ refer to sets of repeatable, agreed upon and documented practices, systems and procedures. They are established by an industry authority, which aims to assist manufacturers in achieving consistent production and product quality.
Why do companies need to adhere to quality standards?
Simply put, quality standards enable companies to meet the very basics of customer expectations. These standards are more than a guideline or a suggestion. They are minimum requirements, and companies must undergo a Quality Audit before setting foot in a market or industry. Establishing and adhering to the appropriate quality standards are crucial!
Quality auditing is an examination by an independent auditor of the Quality Management system of a business, and it ensures that the appropriate Quality Management systems are in place.
What aspects of the business do these standards affect?
The ramifications of compliance or non-compliance with quality standards can have far-reaching effects on a business and affect productivity, customer satisfaction, cost and ultimately, profitability.
The saying: “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link”, holds true. The use of sub-standard components and inferior workmanship will ultimately bring down the productivity of the entire production process. A breakdown caused by these sub-standard parts or poor workmanship will cause a bottleneck in production and render higher quality, more efficient components useless.
- Customer Satisfaction
A business will find it very difficult to shield internal production complications due to non-conformance from the customer. Non-conformance will manifest itself as customer returns, lack of repeat customers and harmed reputation from bad customer ratings.
Unfortunately, most unhappy customers do not lodge complaints with the business or service provider that disappointed them. They are far more likely to spread negative reviews through social media platforms and review sites.
Businesses cannot afford to deliver substandard products or services to a customer in a market where a better option and the ability to give a bad review are a few clicks away.
Poor quality increases cost! Without an effective quality control (QC) system (Ensures Quality Standards are adhered to), inferior products and services will have to be reworked or repeated. Products/batches scrapped two or three times before it meets quality standards ultimately drive the cost so high that your business cannot hope to compete in the market. My experience indicates that necessary “pre-checks” are not always adhered to, hence failures later in the process. It is critical to move the focus from meeting production deadlines to making the product right the 1st time, every time.
Furthermore, cost-saving cannot be done at the expense of maintenance. Effective Maintenance cost management strategies are crucial, but often maintenance is wholly neglected in a poor attempt to minimise expenditure. No or even poor maintenance will certainly cause breakdowns and halts in production, driving labour costs higher and lowering efficiency and quality of the production process.
Wastage, scale, production rate and repeat customers are factors that affect your profitability. When Quality and Excellence become a culture, systems are streamlined, and efficiency prioritised, the aforementioned will improve. Management needs to take responsibility for the vision, mission, goals and objectives of a business. The attitude and culture of employees towards the goals of an organisation are a direct indication of that of management.
The role of Quality Management Systems
Quality standards must not be seen as the end goal but rather as a foundation or minimum criteria. Striving for excellence requires you to build upon this foundation. This is where Quality Management systems come into play.
Quality Management Systems are tools used to identify, meet and exceed the required quality standards. It emphasises continuous improvement, increased employee involvement and teamwork and real-time production monitoring.
In conclusion, to maximise Efficiency, Productivity and increase Profits, management needs to take an honest look at their current state of affairs. An Audit by an independent Business Transformation Specialist and the changes (if implemented) that could come with it can be revealing but well worth it.