The sooner you eliminate errors in a production line, the better.
As a Harvard Business Review article stated, “[f]ailures are much more expensive to fix after a unit has been assembled than before.” Catching and correcting defects early can save you from doing non-value-added work on defective products, increase first-pass yield, and reduce time and money spent on scrap and rework. Inline quality assurance is an important tool for achieving this.
Inline Quality Assurance: The Challenge
The challenge is catching those defects early enough. To achieve this, manufacturers can perform inline quality assurance by setting up quality checkpoints throughout a process. At each checkpoint, one aspect of quality is tested. If the product passes the inspection, it moves downstream; if it fails, it is removed from the line. This ensures that no value is added to defective products.
Unfortunately, inline quality assurance isn’t foolproof. Quality defects can slip through the cracks, even with the most experienced operators, and if supervisors don’t have a way of knowing if a product has been tested, the defects that arise will be untraceable.
Inline Quality Assurance: A Digital Solution
Fortunately, with the rise of IoT-connected manufacturing software, new solutions are available to ameliorate issues with inline quality assurance. Manufacturers can now leverage sensors and devices such as cameras, scales, and temperature and humidity sensors to error-proof the quality check process and walk operators through rework procedures to fix the defects they encounter. Since these devices are IoT-enabled, supervisors can collect real-time data from the inline quality tests and gain actionable insight into the root cause of quality issues, allowing them to nip future defects in the bud.
Implementing an IoT-enabled solution for inline quality assurance is a worthwhile investment, and it’s important to choose a system that is effective and flexible. Not only should your inline quality assurance system be able to adapt as new problems arise in order to prevent defects from reoccurring, it also needs to be able to keep up with changing industry standards for quality and best practices. A flexible system can allow manufacturers to quickly adapt their quality assurance processes to conform to new regulations.
If you’re looking for an intuitive and flexible solution for your inline quality assurance process, you can learn more about how manufacturers are using Tulip here, or try our customizable inline quality assurance app template.