Are you still using paper and pens to conduct shop floor or plant inspections, or to perform quality control checks? If so, you aren’t alone. In fact, 53% of manufacturers still use antiquated paper-based or manual processes for quality management today. Not only are hand-written notes and data prone to human error, these manual processes are also time- and labor-intensive, often leading to lost revenues and increased operational costs. The length of time it takes to identify an issue, report it back to stakeholders and rectify the situation can cause considerable delay and expense.
Today, leading manufacturers are embracing technologies that can help them better manage and streamline their quality inspection processes, without compromising safety and security. In fact, over half of today’s top manufacturers now leverage mobile devices to report safety and quality issues. Manufacturers see mobile inspection software as one of the technologies that can help them save time and money while reducing the risk of errors.
Mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets, are finding their way to the manufacturing shop floor and helping firms do their plant inspections and quality control checks in a more efficient and cost-effective way. Mobile technology eliminates the need to capture information on paper documents, transfer it to a spreadsheet or database and store it in various formats in different systems. Using a combination of a mobile device and easy-to-use mobile applications, an employee can now gather data, scan barcodes, add photos, capture geo-location data and more, thereby streamlining the quality control process right on the shop floor as an inspection takes place. This type of efficiency accelerates the delivery of business information, plus it improves collaboration and overall responsiveness.
Challenges posed by manual quality inspections
Manual quality control inspections are fraught with challenges that inhibit the agility and flexibility that is needed in today’s competitive marketplace. These challenges include:
Lack of visibility
Manual or varying quality inspection processes across plants and geographies make it difficult to track overall production responsibilities, manage dispersed or complex manufacturing operations and report on quality data in a centralized and real-time manner. Without visibility into operations, manufacturers often struggle to achieve maximum efficiency and performance.
Wasted time and resources
Manual quality inspection processes make it difficult to achieve goals and key performance indicators set by management in a responsive, efficient and uniform manner. Time is often wasted searching for data or waiting for reports.
Quality data collection is often a slow, manual process involving error-prone paper. This captured information also often tends to then be hand-entered into spreadsheets and stored in disparate formats on incompatible systems, which can lead to errors, poor work quality, decisions or investments made based on bad data, delayed response times and lack of real-time visibility.
Uninformed decision making
A lack of actionable, timely data to drive decision making impacts the ability to manage orders, plan and schedule production, maintain high product quality, avoid warranty costs, supervise the workforce and increase customer satisfaction.
Benefits of mobile quality inspections
Mobile technology is quickly becoming a welcome addition in the manufacturing workplace. Imagine that you are conducting a quality control check or performing a site inspection during an audit. When you enter information on your mobile device, it is instantly centralized and analyzed—providing instant visibility and actionable data across the organization. If inspectors at two remote locations are reporting the same issues, the back-office team can instantaneously access the reports and take quick corrective action, potentially averting downtime and saving money.
When you use mobile inspection technology, you can look forward to these benefits:
The use of mobile inspection technology can transform quality control management by simplifying and streamlining complex production processes. It can deliver greater workflow capabilities and provide increased support for data-driven decision-making
when and where it is needed, improving overall collaboration.
Mobile inspection applications provide greater efficiency in transferring data from the shop floor to stakeholders, leading to faster resolution of defects and problems on and off the production line. In fact, manufacturers that employ mobility saw a 15% decrease in time to decision over the past year, compared to a 5% increase for those manufacturers with no mobility.
Improved work quality
On- and off-site auditing supported by mobile inspection technology provides better integrity of information and standardization across multiple locations—ensuring that both data collected and processes followed are consistent throughout the enterprise. This capability reduces the chance of human error, resulting in higher quality performance and lower cost-of-quality delivery.
Advanced competitive advantage
Operational advantages derived from mobile inspections help accelerate time to market, control costs and provide capabilities that improve the customer experience—resulting in key competitive benefits for your business.
Four tips for success
Recent advances in mobile technology have made smartphones and tablets an indispensable workplace tool. But how do you go about implementing a mobile quality inspection solution for your organization? Here are four essential tips that will help you get started:
TIP 1: Embrace mobile solutions as an essential element to your overall business strategy. Learn all that you can about mobile capabilities and the different ways they can be deployed to help streamline your quality and inspection operations.
TIP 2: Develop a strategy that is aligned with user needs, your business strategy and current mobile best practices. It is important for you to understand your organization’s challenges, drivers and opportunities. Think about how mobile inspection solutions can change your operations and enable your organization to increase productivity and customer satisfaction.
TIP 3: Collaborate with stakeholders across manufacturing functions, such as quality control, inventory and production, to determine how a mobile inspection solution can improve the way current operations are performed. Use cross-functional teams to develop requirements for a mobile experience that is aligned with your user and business needs.
TIP 4: Determine how you will measure the success of your mobile inspection software deployment. Decide on when you will need to review results, what type of results will signify success, and any next steps that need to be taken based on the outcome.
If you are interested in accelerating your time to market, controlling costs, ensuring quality, and achieving a sustainable competitive advantage, mobile quality inspection technology can help you achieve your goals. Additionally, it can help you be more agile, responsive and profitable in today’s marketplace.
Request a call with one of TrackVia’s workflow experts.