Efficient quality management: How you can reduce your error rate

Efficient quality management: How you can reduce your error rate

High error rates cost time and money. This realization is old and applies to all industries. Successful error management is therefore not a luxury, but an investment that pays off. However, the prerequisite for this is that such management is also known.

The work processes of modern Industry 4.0 and their possibilities are still far from being fully utilized everywhere. Particularly in the area of quality management, many companies are not yet exploiting the full potential of possibilities that did not even exist before digitalization.

This results in errors that would not actually be necessary if, for example, the use of certain tools was fully known, but unfortunately there is a lack of experience or knowledge.

Let's take a closer look at how you can reduce your error rate: With practical steps and proven methods from quality management, a lot can be done. Read our blog to find out how you can make optimum use of resources and increase customer satisfaction - small changes can sometimes make a big difference.

The most important facts at a glance

  • Quality management includes elements such as quality planning, control, assurance and improvement and is based on standards such as the ISO 9000 series of standards to promote product quality and customer satisfaction.
  • Preventive approaches such as the Poka Yoke system for avoiding human and mechanical errors or FMEA risk management, which can be used to identify and prioritize potential product defects, are frequently used.
  • Error management is also familiar with methods such as lean production or TPM. They optimize company processes, increase efficiency and reduce the error rate if used correctly. It is important that the team is involved: Regular training, an effective communication culture and active participation on the part of the team ensure the success of error management methods.

The importance of quality management

What does quality management involve? Among other things, the term refers to measures for planning, controlling and improving processes in accordance with defined requirements. The primary goal is always to improve the quality of products or services. High-quality products and services increase customer satisfaction - and satisfied customers are more likely to return.

Quality management is based on a process-oriented approach: All activities within a company are understood as processes that can be monitored and optimized. The focus is therefore on the individual steps of production, not on the product itself. Successful management is system-oriented and makes decisions based on processes and facts. This is a basic prerequisite for profitable business. Quality management supports this way of working.

System-oriented management means that all human and material factors that can influence production quality and customer satisfaction are considered. They are all potential sources of error that need to be uncovered.

Errors, whether human or mechanical, lead to product defects that have a direct negative impact on customer satisfaction. Therefore, the elimination of defects is one of the top priorities of every company in terms of quality objectives.

Important elements of quality management

If you want to establish an effective quality management system in your company, you need a basic understanding of it. Let's take a look at industrial production: Here, the fundamental pillars of quality management are as follows

  • Quality control planning: Sets targets, defines quality standards and establishes procedures to meet these standards.
  • Quality control: Includes inspections and tests during the production phases, i.e. ensures that flawless products leave production.
  • Quality assurance: Includes proactive measures to prevent errors, such as team training, process definitions, selection of suitable tools, inspection of products.
  • Quality improvement: Continuously examines data from ongoing production in order to re-evaluate processes and discover opportunities for improvement.

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Standards and norms in quality management

The core element and legal framework of quality management is the standard. More precisely, compliance with the standards and norms specified in the ISO 9000 series of standards. This international standard contains all the central specifications and principles of quality management that we use today.

ISO 9001 certified - the seal of quality management

This standard provides companies with a framework for the development of quality management systems that contribute to improving product quality and customer satisfaction. The basic aim of this standard is that companies should organize themselves in such a way that they actually and reliably deliver the services they promise their customers. Among other things, this means that

  • processes are reliably organized,
  • all essential information is reliably documented,
  • processes and communication are designed to be comprehensible at all times,
  • promises, such as punctual deliveries, are also regularly kept.

Preventive measures to avoid errors

Preventing errors is one of the main objectives of quality management, if not the most important. This is because errors cost time and money and reduce the quality of products and services - which drives customers away. That is why successful quality management focuses on ways to reduce existing errors and prevent future errors from occurring in the first place.

Preventive measures help with a view to the future. Processes can be checked and designed to be error-proof, provided they are sufficiently analyzed. Today, there are a number of methods and tools that standardize the process and allow every company to quickly define suitable measures and implement them in their own company.

Poka Yoke - avoid unnecessary mistakes

One example of error prevention methods is the Poka Yoke principle. In simple terms, this Japanese word describes a method that avoids errors by making processes "foolproof". Errors in the production line, for example, are avoided by designing the environment in such a way that process steps can easily be carried out correctly. Mechanisms that indicate errors immediately so that they can be corrected quickly are also part of this approach. Poka Yoke is therefore a preventative method that designs the work in such a way that errors do not occur in the first place.

The Poka Yoke system uses various devices and mechanisms that are designed to make errors in the production process more difficult or to prevent them completely. An effective poka-yoke system is characterized by the fact that it is easy to use and excludes errors in principle.

FMEA risk management

FMEA risk management is another important approach to error prevention. The FMEA method supports preventive quality assurance by systematically identifying and prioritizing the causes of errors and potential defects in the production process.

FMEA analysis is a structured process consisting of seven steps:

Planning and preparation

Structural analysis

Functional analysis

Error analysis

Risk analysis

Optimization

Documentation of the results

In FMEA, the risk priority number (RPN) is used to assess the risk of potential failures by multiplying the severity, probability of occurrence and difficulty of detection of failures.

Process optimization and increased efficiency

If you want to make fewer mistakes, you need optimally defined processes and efficient workflows. Analyses show where improvements can be made, where the error rate is high and where more efficient tools could speed up processes. Process optimization leads to an improvement in the quality of your production processes, a reduction in the costs of these processes and a reduction in the error rate.

That sounds complicated at first. However, optimized production processes are the guarantee for low error rates and therefore for the long-term success of the company.

Modern analysis tools bring data to light that make success visible in figures. Process indicators such as throughput time, error rate and productivity, for example, show which costs are incurred and where they can be reduced. The same applies to time management and personnel costs.

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Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is another holistic approach to improving quality and efficiency, mainly used in the field of production, such as plant and mechanical engineering. TPM aims to improve production tools through greater operator involvement. The aim is to minimize losses and waste, avoid defects as far as possible and keep machine downtimes to a minimum. Originally developed as a method for maintaining machinery, TPM is now a concept that applies to the entire company and its quality management.

The implementation of TPM comprises a combination of preventive and condition-based maintenance as well as continuous plant improvements according to a five-stage approach. TPM helps to reduce waste, lower maintenance costs, increase productivity and improve safety standards as well as employee motivation.

Employee participation and training

Even in the age of Industry 4.0 and big data, the success of a company still depends on the individual team members. They continue to play a decisive role in quality management. For example, companies rely on participation programs that set clear goals for employees and communicate them in a transparent manner. This demonstrably increases employee satisfaction - which not only helps the success of production, but also makes the company attractive as an employer. Appropriate training and general support for employees through participation programs lead to greater job satisfaction, which prevents job changes and possibly also attracts sought-after new specialists.

Communication and collaboration

Humans are social and communicative beings. This also applies to working life: If you want to reduce the error rate, you have to communicate. An open and collegial communication culture plays a key role in ensuring that employees report errors and problems without fear of consequences. In this way, errors can be scPeople are social and communicative beings. This also applies to working life: If you want to reduce the error rate, you have to communicate. An open and collegial communication culture plays a key role in ensuring that employees report errors and problems without fear of consequences. In this way, errors are discovered more quickly, which is the basic prerequisite for being able to rectify them.

Collaboration tools are available for this area of quality management. Communication takes place in real time between all employees involved, whether on site, at the customer's premises or in the home office. This allows information to be shared in a matter of seconds - which also speeds up error detection and problem solving on site. This situation is a prime example of how the tepcon instructor helps to solve problems that arise spontaneously: Where previously a trained specialist would have been called in, today digital work instructions, read off a tablet or cell phone in a matter of seconds, are often enough to solve a problem.

In addition, training and support services created for those involved in specific work processes also help. They not only improve communication skills, but also promote cooperation and thus contribute to more effective troubleshooting.

Training programs and continuous professional development

The world of industry is becoming increasingly digital. From services to industrially manufactured products, companies are working with big data, increasingly machine-supported processes and ever more sophisticated technologies.

The team, the people who operate the machines, must keep pace. Training and continuous professional development are therefore important for improved error detection and problem solving. New tools and techniques require the necessary knowledge so that they can be used as efficiently as possible. This requires users to keep up to date with continuous learning and practice.

There are various programs and approaches for this:

  • Training directly at the workplace
  • Formal teaching in the seminar room
  • E-learning offers
  • Promotion of self-directed learning

Regular training and awareness programs make it clear to the team how important error detection is. They encourage them to train their eye for deviations and report them so that they can be rectified.

Error analysis and evaluation

Once the error has been discovered, the next step is analysis and evaluation.

Where defects occur, they must be analyzed - also in accordance with the requirements of ISO 9000 - so that they cannot occur again. A permanent increase in quality is not possible without systematic error analysis.

In the error classification, errors are, as the name suggests, divided into different classes. This shows which errors have priority, which have the highest urgency and which can possibly be rectified later.

Depending on which method you use, errors are categorized differently. Errors are also weighted: How high is the economic cost of rectifying the error?

The classification thus creates clarity: Where are resources already being used efficiently and how do we prioritize necessary improvement measures?

Error categorization

The next step follows in the form of error categorization. Discovered errors are now sorted into category A or B, for example. Category A contains errors that arise due to missing, incorrect or unknown customer requirements. Category B contains errors that arise due to the incorrect implementation of customer requirements, for example a software error in a digital product.

Errors are evaluated using the so-called customer relevance number: it rates the errors according to their importance for the customer. This key figure can then be used to create a list of priorities according to which errors are processed.

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Methods and tools for root cause analysis

Discovering and rectifying errors is one aspect. The other, equally important, is root cause analysis. Analyzing the causes of errors also helps to improve quality, because if you identify causes, you can also eliminate them.

Quality management has a range of tools for analyzing the causes of errors. They support the search for causes with structured problem-solving processes, i.e. a clear step-by-step procedure, and thus help to identify errors in concrete terms.

One example is the so-called Ishikawa diagram, another is the 8D method. These are two techniques of root cause analysis that are used in the systematic investigation of quality defects. These methods enable companies to identify the origins of defects and take appropriate measures to rectify them.

Monitoring and control

Trust is good, control is better. The old saying certainly contains a kernel of truth, namely when it comes to monitoring and controlling processes in production. If you want to identify and correct errors at an early stage before they cost real money, you need to monitor and continuously control processes.

In quality management, the area of monitoring also includes monitoring the collected data, which must be checked for accuracy and completeness.

Statistical process control (SPC)

In every production process, there are many different influencing factors that could lead to errors in the process. The method of statistical process control, or SPC for short, helps to avoid such errors with constant monitoring and control. SPC uses measurements of quality characteristics and the use of control diagrams to identify trends at an early stage and intervene in good time. The collected data is statistically evaluated and thus reveals at an early stage when certain parameters change and intervention in production becomes necessary.

This enables companies to identify and correct errors at an early stage before they lead to serious problems.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

The following KPIs can be helpful here:

  • Error rate: to monitor the number of errors in the production process
  • Customer satisfaction: to assess the fulfillment of customer requirements and the quality of the service
  • Throughput time: to measure the efficiency of production processes and identify potential for improvement.

Reducing errors with the tepcon instructor: a success story

There are numerous examples of companies that have achieved significant improvements in their processes by implementing effective quality management practices.

Let's go into detail and look at a specific option for avoiding and rectifying errors. The best and most obvious example is the tepcon instructor, which has already helped many of our customers. The customer benefit of this "digital expert" is enormous - it is not uncommon for customers to go troubleshooting with its help. You can count on these benefits if you use the instructor for your business processes:

  • Quality improvement
  • Productivity increase
  • Securing know-how
  • Transparency of processes

Would you like to hear a success story from our company? Here's an example: AP&S International GmbH, a manufacturer of special machines for microchip production, reports that it was able to shorten the construction time for a product by more than 50 percent and thus more than double the output quantity. We integrated tablet PCs and QR codes for the tepcon instructor there. This gave employees direct access to structured and easy-to-understand work instructions anytime and anywhere.

The comparatively immense increase in efficiency required little training, as the software is very user-friendly. This aspect not only reduces the training period, but also and above all the error rate if problems occur during operation. Delays during regular maintenance work are also less likely.

Let us explain to you how the tepcon instructor can improve processes and reduce error rates in your company.

In a nutshell: more quality management for fewer errors

Keeping the error rate low in daily operations is a process. Quality management plays a crucial role in improving product or service quality and increasing customer satisfaction, regardless of the industry in which our customers operate.

Quality management includes various sub-aspects:

  • Implementation of quality standards and norms
  • Use of preventive measures to avoid errors
  • Process optimization and increased efficiency
  • Employee participation and training
  • Error analysis and evaluation as well as monitoring and control of processes

Working on all these areas may seem time-consuming at first, but it pays off in the long run. A consistently developed quality management system, tailored to the individual requirements of your company, will lead to a reduction in the error rate in the process chain and keep this rate low in the long term.

Digital instructions for a lower error rate

Digital instructions for a lower error rate

We actively support your quality management with our digital instructions. Both in the prevention of errors and in the processing of errors that have occurred: the instructor provides reliable information and action steps, creates trust through clear instructions and thus security in implementation. Your team receives valuable support both in their daily work and when errors occur unexpectedly - here too, the instructor can be implemented preventively as a solution with suitable instructions for troubleshooting.

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