The Ideal Quality Management System:
Automate, Customize, Compare, and Report
by Ryan Szporer
Quality management systems come in many shapes and sizes. Each is largely dependent on the industry to which a given application caters. There are nevertheless basic standards that must be met across the board.
In the packaging design and printing industry, an effective platform like GlobalVision compares two documents against one another to detect differences and prevent errors on the final product. Meanwhile, in the manufacturing industry, a tool like InspectionXpert enables the easy ballooning and data entry of figures/ characteristics on CAD/ inspection drawings.
There’s obviously a huge difference between their respective functionalities. Despite the disparity in how tools like the above are used though, there is a concrete, consistent checklist of features companies in the market for a new platform should have.
Automated for Greater Efficiency
As technology develops more and more, automation only gains steam in the workplace regardless of the sector. As a result, companies are becoming more empowered to better allocate human resources where they’re most needed instead of having workers perform mundane tasks that can more efficiently be done through automation.
For example, Safety Culture operates as a leading provider of solutions for site inspections and safety audits. The company’s software automatically syncs gathered data between mobile devices and desktops to provide actionable analytics in real time, while updated inspection forms can be automatically shared with team members.
Of course, “automatically” implies without user input, but that’s not necessarily the case here, nor can it be when it comes to quality management. Inspections still must be conducted by actual personnel. Whatever the scenario, it’s only logical that something that gets detected as having gone awry must first get verified as needing to be fixed in person. It’s at that point that it actually is (fixed). Quality-management software can’t reasonably be expected to make the fixes… just indicate where fixes are required.
While GlobalVision bills itself as a digital proofreading application, in which technicians click to perform inspections and then go through the results themselves, there is a definite automated (instead of automatic) element. Instead of manually proofreading artwork files, leading companies in various industries trust the platform to eliminate the propensity for human error by comparing an already approved master to a sample, pixel by pixel (during a graphics inspection, for example). Proofing subsequently takes seconds instead of hours or days.
Similarly, a fair portion of the legwork in InspectionXpert is done by the individual in front of the keyboard. Nevertheless, the application automates several critical inspection planning processes: the identification and extraction of characteristics, the correlation of imported data to ballooned inspection drawings, and the application of relevant balloons to newer versions. The end result, as with GlobalVision? Fewer mistakes, just in a different context.
Customize to Personalize Preferences
The ability to mold a given application to fit your company’s internal processes can be a deal breaker when choosing a solution. It makes life easier on everyone contributing to the workflow when settings can be custom-configured once for perpetual use (and re-configured when necessary). It also adds to the overall user-friendliness of the application.
This can take the form of something as simple as customizable balloon numbering or custom project templates to save time when switching between clients with InspectionXpert. In much the same vein, GlobalVision’s Job Wizard lets companies and printers, in particular, run inspections more efficiently by selecting one of many different pre-set workflow configurations. The option to have the Job Wizard load upon start-up ensures no one tester deviates from the company’s accepted inspection conventions.
SafetyCulture meanwhile allows for custom checklist form to be created from scratch. Smart and dynamic fields can also be added to each form, thereby promoting inspections that are more thorough. This is of course all in addition to the basic options a user would expect to be able to alter based on personal preferences, which applies to each of the above systems too.
Compare to Improve Performance
Running comparisons almost goes hand in hand with quality management to the point that it arguably represents GlobalVision’s primary functionality. The ability to compare the artwork, text, Braille, and color in a master and sample (or check the barcodes and spelling in either a master or sample) is at its core why printers and internal quality assurance departments rely on the software in the first place. Without it, they would have to go back to manually proofing.
With InspectionXpert, it’s more of a complementary feature. If a revision of the drawing on which you’re working exists, instead of starting over you can overlay one on top of the other and compare them. From there, you can save a PDF of the two and then make any necessary adjustments.
Meanwhile, Safety Culture admittedly doesn’t really lend itself to the comparison of revisions as it’s not that type of system. However, the ability to track performance improvements, comparing current and previous inspection results, is in large part what make its generated reports so informative.
Generate Reports for Future Reference
It makes sense that, leading to more-thorough inspections, Safety Culture’s iAuditor reports are just as in-depth. As one would expect, they can be broken down by a wide variety of filters, making any required data incredibly accessible, just like the reports themselves. Reports can be set to be sent out instantly to multiple recipients through multiple delivery methods in multiple formats and then downloaded at any time off Safety Culture’s secure servers.
Reports are also a big InspectionXpert selling point, especially the ability to create those of the custom variety. Users can create reports in formats like AS9102 and Production Part Approval dimensional results, but aren’t limited to common templates. They can use Microsoft Excel and import specially designed ones tailored to individual customers.
GlobalVision reports, which are both saved in the application’s Audit Trail and can be shared as part of the approval/ rejection process, can also be customized. Testers/ technicians can fill in header information as required and opt to include different elements like thumbnails of the differences, the Master as a reference, and a signature field that can be manually signed. Electronic signatures are also a licensable option for enhanced data integrity, to further address the need to meet FDA 21 CFR Part 11 compliance on the part of quality-control professionals.
Overall, there are many factors to consider when searching for the right quality management application. It definitely must strike the right balance between user-friendliness and a comprehensive feature set, as there is usually some trade-off between the two. However, the required features undeniably vary from industry to industry. Meanwhile the overriding need to improve internal efficiency and performance metrics are universal. The abilities to automate, customize, compare, and document, together, make it possible.