What is Quality 4.0?

Quality 4.0 is the state of manufacturing for quality professionals during the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This is also known as Industry 4.0. Quality 4.0 uses real-time data from Industry 4.0 technologies. These include connected devices and drive quality professionals’ continuous improvement initiatives.

The impact of Industry 4.0 on quality management

Disruptive technologies drove the first, second, and third industrial revolutions. Each revolution heralded a massive increase in productivity.

The first industrial revolution began in the 18th century, when steam power and mechanical production improved manufacturing outcomes. Developments like the spinning jetty and steam power ensured that technology, instead of labor, determined which countries became manufacturing leaders.

At this stage, quality management meant the inspection of goods by the craftsman and customer.

Electricity powered the second industrial revolution during the 19th century. During this revolution, manufacturers adopted mass production and assembly lines.

Mass production made factories more productive, but it made self-inspection less efficient. Individual craftsmen couldn’t keep up with this level of inspection. As a result, quality management shifted its focus to quality control and standards.

The third industrial revolution began during the mid-20th century when ICTs and electronics supported the first wave of automation and networked production. Many of these developments are standard in manufacturing plants around the world today.

From the 20th century through the last decade, software emerged to manage quality documentation and collect information faster. This helped manufacturers manage the cost of quality.

What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution is different from earlier technological shifts because it’s driven by cyber physical systems. Cyber physical systems provide value by connecting and communicating information between the people and machines involved in production.

These changes are transforming manufacturing from a hierarchical to a flexible system. This new flexible environment will transform the way quality professionals approach quality challenges.

IoT is transforming quality management because of its shift away from quality control and quality assurance as the focus in the quality profession.

What do we mean by quality and quality management system?

Quality is the goodness of your product and service to the customer. When it doesn’t conform to your need, corrective action is required.

The organization is almost always performing at some level below perfect. Quality professionals work to control quality through a variety of mechanisms. These include quality control measures like root cause analysis, and statistical process control.

However the cost of non-conformance and poor quality hurts business and sales. As a result, manufacturers need to either redesign the product or introduce continuous improvement initiatives.

What is the current state of quality in the manufacturing industry?

Quality management systems now focus on maintenance and quality control. In practice, this means maintaining a certain level of goodness and defects, with additional activity focused around sporadic spikes.

Most activities focus on quality control, which contributes to a higher overall cost of quality. Cost of quality is the additional cost spent to prevent failure.

A subsection of this is “cost of conformance”. Cost of conformance is the cost of planning, controlling, and checking to assure there are no defects. These costs break down into two types: prevention and appraisal. Activities related to this cost include design reviews, process control, and understanding the voice of the customer.

Cost of quality also includes cost of non-conformance. Cost of non-conformance is the cost of poor quality. These are the manufacturing problems defects create. They can be divided into two types of failures – internal and external.

Methodologies like six sigma and lean focus on continuous improvement and removing and reducing non-value add activities and waste.

This all matters because total cost of poor quality can be 15% – 20% of total operations. 60 – 70% of that cost is from internal and external failures.

Diagram highlighting quality management best practices

In Figure A. a sample process is broken down into a series of steps, shown in blue.

Before the process starts, quality professionals review input for quality. If it doesn’t meet requirements, quality professionals take action here. Layer on work instructions at each step, usually in paper, which describes requirements and allows quality professionals to check that each stage is in conformance.

Diagram of the QC Loop

Now look at Figure B. Whenever there’s an element critical to quality, such as temperature or color, quality professionals can monitor it, compare it to the benchmark, and take action when it doesn’t meet the benchmark.

Many factories have semi-automated processes, but still rely on people to manually collect a significant amount of data to drive this process forward.

Quality 4.0 is keeping people in the process instead of taking them away to collect the data they need to make decisions. This is what reduces failures and decreases cost of quality.

What does Quality 4.0 means for Quality Professionals?

Quality 4.0 impacts quality professionals and manufacturers in 5 ways: data quality, information sharing, speed of improvement, cost of quality, and skills.

Data Quality

Without Industry 4.0 technologies like manufacturing apps, data is collected sporadically. The incomplete data makes it difficult for quality professionals to have a full picture of production when they conduct analysis. Even if the data set is complete, it’s often outdated by the time it’s used.

By contrast, using a platform like Tulip enables quality professionals to collect data in real-time. This helps them improve processes faster and trust the accuracy of the information they use in quality improvement analyses.

Information Sharing

In many factories, production, and machine data live in siloed databases that are maintained by data keepers.

An interconnected system gives stakeholders access to an integrated and holistic view of production. They can easily track the process, machines, and people involved.

Speed of Improvement

Data availability and data integrity shift shop floor discussions. Instead of discussing how to correct spikes in poor quality, teams can discuss ways to improve.

Quality 4.0 tools and tactics shift the performance baseline up.

Cost of Quality

Currently, quality professionals need to perform additional audits, tests, appraisals, and other activities.

New technologies embed these checks into the system so these types of activities are less frequent or unnecessary.


Across functional areas, these new technologies are driving skills shifts. This technology automates low-skill, repetitive tasks like inspection and testing. The quality professional under Quality 4.0 focuses on prevention through data analysis, IoT, and app development.


Industry 4.0 technologies are driving a transformation throughout the manufacturing industry. Data quality and interconnected data sharing systems will have great effects on quality management, from increasing the speed of improvement and lowering the cost of quality to driving skills shifts. Quality professionals need to learn, champion, and incorporate these developments into their production workflows to stay competitive.

Tulip's Frontline Operations Platform digitizes and streamlines quality data collection and inspection activities so quality professionals always have the real-time data they need to drive continuous improvement. To learn more about Tulip and opportunities to leverage digitization on your shop floor, get in touch.

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