The version of Internet Explorer is outdated.

This website can not be viewed with your browser!

Upgrade your browser to the latest version (Internet Explorer 8) or install another browser, like Firefox or Google Chrome

The Complete Business Leader - Leadership training program - Click to View/Download Brochure

Several Indian Companies are aspiring to use Industry 4.0 elements and they are trying to get the tag of ‘We too are implementing Industry 4.0’. But, as I was mentioning in the last few Articles, we are simply not ready. May be a small percentage of companies are truly there. But, most of the Companies are just not anywhere near to using Ind 4.0. 

 

We have examined the Plant Maintenance area last week. 

 

Let us look at Quality Assurance this time.

 

Indian Manufacturing Companies are supplying World over and we are generally capable of achieving any level of Quality if we put our efforts in to it. I know Companies that supply to the Best Companies in the World. Usually these MNCs take complex parts from India. As they find Indian Companies accommodating and willing to learn. 

 

But, most of these MNCs also would have experienced that Indian Companies take quite a bit of time to ‘get in to the groove’ or ‘take off’ in supplies. Then, they also have a problem of giving ‘Good Quality consistently’. By the time the Customer heaves a sigh of relief that the Supplies have finally taken over, they will have a rude shock of getting a Batch of Parts that are totally off the Specs. They may notice something going wrong ‘terribly’. This usually shakes the confidence of the Customer.

 

I have seen that the Companies in India suffer, suffer the Customer and if the Relationship wades through all this and survives, the supplies may really settle down. But, a few hiccups here and there keep happening. The Customer would have accepted it and keep debiting huge costs to the Supplier. 

 

A screen shot of a building

Description automatically generatedMany Companies in India may find that the ‘Lucrative Business’ that they found in the Western world slowly starts losing money! Many companies would have slowly exited the Business. Very few would fight hard and improve themselves. The Companies that don’t learn, keep having the same experience being repeated with various Customers. 

 

Now, many of these Companies are trying to join the Bandwagon of  Ind 4.0. They can’t succeed unless they Re-engineer their processes totally. 

 

Let us look at a few Micro areas within  Quality Assurance. We will discuss the Current condition and how they can Lift their Game in preparation for using Ind 4.0 elements.

 

We will look at the following Micro areas in Quality Assurance:

 

o   Quality Plan Adherence

o   Quality Problem Solving

o   Employee knowledge and Skills

o   Who is owning the Quality?

o   Response to Customer

o   Machine Condition

o   Work Culture

 

01.  Quality Plan Adherence 

 

A picture containing text

Description automatically generatedCurrent Condition: I have seen that the Quality Plan Adherence in many companies is not in good shape. How much Percentage would you score if you check each line against the Quality Plan that YOU have worked out? My experience is that the adherence ranges from around 30% to 70% when checked actually on the ground. 

 

Those of you who are not able to agree to this should actually go to the lines and check it. If you are really at 90-95%, then you are a minority in the Indian Manufacturing. Congratulations! Keep improving from there! 

 

Why is the Adherence so low in many companies?

 

Some reasons that I observed are:

 

a)    Does not recognise change: The Quality Plan would not have been updated for changes that are happening on the ground. Resultantly, it becomes a Dumb Document. 

b)   Impractical load of work: The Inspectors / Operators who are supposed to carry out the Quality checks are loaded very heavily with the work and I found in a few companies that if they have to do all the checks that are prescribed in the Quality Plan, they have to be available for at least 12 hours instead of the 8 hours for which they are available. No one cares about this. Operators simply can’t keep up with the work. They don’t check many of the Parameters.  Everyone in the Company would know it and ignore it. 

c)    Simply ignored: There are many Quality Checks that can be done. But, they are simply ignored. If you ask the concerned employees, they would immediately start doing them. 

 

Lift the Game: The Quality Plans have to be revamped. Recognise what is happening on the Ground. Work out a Layered approach for implementing the Quality Plan. Involve many more people in the implementation of the Quality Plan. Every one working in the Factory should participate in the Quality Plan implementation. Right from Factory Head to the Operator handling the Machine. 

 

The Quality Plan implementation has to be audited by the Quality Team on a daily basis. Some companies have implemented this Layered audit approach in a very nice manner. The results are wonderful. When the Engineers involved control the process on a daily basis, their knowledge improves and they become very confident. I have seen that these Engineers are able to face up to Customers in a much better manner. 

 

A close up of a device

Description automatically generatedHow to use Ind 4.0 : Now, we have a very well developed Hand Held Technology available. This along with the connectivity that we have makes it amenable to take the Quality Plan usage online. You can think of having a Mobile Software that will help you monitor the Quality parameters on line. You can trigger Quality check points to various people in the organization in the spirit of the Layered Audit that we spoke about earlier. The Quality Plan monitoring may interact with Bar code technology / Photographs / Video abilities in an intelligent manner to monitor the Process closely. 

 

Once you go on line, you generate enormous amount of Quality data. This needs to be analysed by a full time Manufacturing Data Analytics team. 

 

If you have standardized each workstation properly in the Process, then you can look at using Vision Technology to monitor the movements of the Operator and try to control the Quality at the root. 

 

There are many things that can be done using Technology once you get your Basics in place. 

 

02.  Quality Problem Solving

 

Current Condition: The Quality of Problem Solving in Companies leaves much to be desired. The Problem is at various levels.

a)    Not many  people are involved in Problem Solving. 

b)   People involved do not have good Knowledge and Skills.

c)    While Management wants Quality to improve, they do not invest in to improving these Skills. 

 

A close up of a sign

Description automatically generatedLift the Game: Formulate a Big group of Engineers in the Company who are ‘Problem Solving Ninjas’ of the Company. Invest in to Training them and developing the Group. 

 

Create a War room and encourage the teams to meet every day for at least 45 minutes to actually solve the problems, for technical discussions etc. 

 

Build a Good Problem Solving Methodology over a period with continuous improvements.

 

How to use Ind 4.0 elements: Once you have the Problem Solving Methodology working well manually, you can automate it with a Mobile Based Software that will control the Problem Solving across the Organization.

 

You can use the Video technology to capture the Learning from each Problem that is solved and have a Knowledge Management System in the Company that can be used for Training as well as learning from Past mistakes. Coupled with Artificial intelligence and a good methodology of indexing the Solutions, you may be able to even input the learnings in to your Design process. 

 

You can let your Design process continuously learn from the Problem Solving Process in the Company. 

 

 

03.  Employee Knowledge and Skills 

 

Current Condition: The Companies that give importance to Knowledge and Skills are very few in Indian Manufacturing. Even those companies that are focused on Training are not having laser like focus on Skills with a relation to Results. 

 

A screenshot of a cell phone

Description automatically generatedThe Employees in all areas of the Company keep doing several important works like right from Design of Product to facing the Customer without proper Knowledge of the Products / Processes of the Company. 

 

Indian Companies are still recruiting people without a measure of whether they are needed and why they are needed. 

 

The link between the progress of an Employee in a Company and the Knowledge & Skills that they have is very blurred. 

 

Lift the Game: Companies need to define the Functional and Leadership Skills that the employees need to have. I would recommend a Leadership Model be built for every company based on their own Business scenario and the Values that they want their Employees to espouse.

 

While the definition of what all is needed can be put in place, every company needs to prioritise the skills that they want to focus on for this year based on the Business priorities. 

 

They need to Train the employees on a regular basis rather than some spurts of Training. 

 

How to use Ind 4.0 elements: Once the Skills are defined, Priorities are decided and Training has started, the Company can look at optimising on the Ind 4.0 elements.

 

The company can adapt a Blended Training approach where the Face to Face training on short modules is combined with Micro Learning modules using E-Learning. 

 

A picture containing tennis, racket

Description automatically generatedThe Company can get on to a Cloud based  ‘LMS’ (Learning Management System) and use it to drive Learning across the organization. 

 

Employees can be Certified for their learning, implementing Projects and getting results by an outside agency.

 

Using these elements the Company can bring Skills and Learning in to the centre of the way they do the Business.

 

With this focus, the Employees can certainly deliver more towards lifting the Top line and Bottom line. 

 

We will examine a few more elements about ‘Lifting the Game in Quality Assurance’ in the article next week

 

Have you started revamping your Quality System? Small changes won’t do! You need to rediscover yourself !! 

Published in Quality
Wednesday, 04 June 2014 00:00

Change in approach towards Quality

Indian manufacturing firms need to change their approach to quality. Let me start by taking the case of export quality tag. It is meant to convey the ”Best Quality”. The assumption here is the domestic market is not discriminating enough and can be sold sub-standard stuff; that export markets demand and deserve quality better than the domestic market. I pondered over this and began to realise there is a cultural bias within us giving rise to our attitude to quality. Quality is one of perception for us. What is bad for one is good enough for another. Our subjective nature predominates. There is also a popular misconception that Indian consumers are price conscious all the way and any increase in cost for quality sake is not on.

Defining Qualityis a complicated exercise. Most would agree it is an attribute. An attribute which makes a product or service fit for use and satisfies the customer expectations. The ISO quality guideline manuals tries to resolve to some extent the issue of differing perceptions. They define quality terminology elaborately  leaving very little to imagination. However the creation of actual operating manuals are always left to the individual organisations. These operating manuals are supposed to be faithful in spirit to the ISO guidelines.

By 1992-93, about 50 companies mainly the large companies had obtained ISO-9000 certification. By 2010 more than thirty thousand ISO 9001 certificates have been issued in India. Most of the firms employ consultants to write out procedures and guide them in obtaining the certificate. Besides it is being said that there are more than fifty certifying bodies in India for all QMS (Quality management systems) related accreditation. The field has given rise to big employment potential.  But the ground reality is not very encouraging.

Ask any experienced head of vendor selection department of a big company about QMS certification. Answer would be invariably, it serves at best only as the first filter. The actual selection is mostly with audits undertaken with the part production process. The run at rate, rejection analysis, FMEAs, past history are the key factors evaluated in this audit. It is very important to conceive metrics for constant review by top management for quality sustenance. The five metrics below will help. It highlights successes, gaps, and areas for improvement.

Metric 1: Yield

The First Pass Yield measured as the percentage of products produced that meet both quality and compliance standards without the need of re-run or re-work. A simplified definition of first pass yield is the number of units coming out of a process divided by the number of units going into that process over a specified period of time.

Metric 2: Scrap Rate

The simplest definition of scrap rate is that it measures the percentage of raw materials sent to production that never make it into the finished product.

Metric 3: Supplier Defect Rate

Supplier Defect Rate measures the percentage of materials or products received from suppliers that do not meet required quality or compliance specifications. Organizations operating in industries such as automotive are not only responsible for managing immediate supplier quality, but the responsibilities also extend to measure areas such as the supplier’s supplier quality.

Metric 4: Cost of poor quality  and Supplier Chargebacks

Organizations need to have stringent norms for charging  non-material costs such as late delivery and employee time, which in some cases might be more expensive than the material cost itself.

Metric 5: Customer Complaints

A simple way is to measure the number of customer complaints over 12 months. In addition to measuring just the number of customer complaints, organizations should also measure metrics such as number of customer complaints resolved, time taken to resolve a customer complaint, and also metrics related to measuring overall customer satisfaction.

About the author

Mr.TNS Raghavan is a B.Tech (Metallurgy) from IIT-Madras. He has been associated with Indian automotive industry for over three decades. Experienced in the areas of manufacture, design, R&D, and quality assurance of safety critical parts for automotive sector; Brakes, Steering, castings and high tensile fasteners.  He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in Quality