Have you decided to start up a business involving manufacturing, assembly or packaging? Congratulations!
It will be difficult, it will be draining – but if done right, it will all be worth it!
After all, high-quality manufacturing adds value to the finished product, allowing it to sell at a higher price, and creating a pool of loyal customers and positive word of mouth about your business.
So whether you are making clothes, food, beauty products, or high-technology equipment, learning how to implement quality control in manufacturing will prove crucial to your business’s success.
But: what does quality control consist of?
- What is quality control in manufacturing?
- Quality control steps in manufacturing
- 1. Educate yourself
- 2. Define your quality standards
- 3. Train your employees
- 4. Stay informed
- 5. Offer the best possible quality working environment
- 6. Create a rescue plan
- 7. Guard your products
- Be sure your quality control is spotless
What is quality control in manufacturing?
Quality control, in short, means ensuring that the product you are creating is of the best possible quality – and that means for every single piece that you produce.
As a process, it involves everything from sourcing of the raw materials, to production, storage, and transportation. The manufacturer should monitor all these steps, and all these steps should have their quality control standards. As a manufacturer, you are responsible for your product.
Now, quality control in manufacturing depends significantly on the product you are creating. Some manufacturers produce only parts of what will later be a complete product and sell them as such. Others create finished products to be sold by other companies or by themselves. Manufacturing business also varies from industry to industry and the scale of the business. The same rules can’t be applied to a business creating silk and another that makes automobile parts.
Still, the quality of the finished product is the determining factor for your own business. Whether or not you will be able to sell your product and keep customers coming depends on their overall satisfaction with its quality.
That’s why manufacturing quality control is crucial, and there are some steps you should take to ensure the best possible product you are creating.
Quality control steps in manufacturing
As said before, manufacturing quality control depends highly on the type of product you are creating, and there is not one unifying list to stick to.
But to help you answer the question of what quality control is in manufacturing your product, here is a list of things to consider.
It’s never too late to implement new quality control steps.
1. Educate yourself
First and foremost, educate yourself on the product you are creating. As a business owner, you should be the one to know all there is to know about it.
Be prepared to learn and to keep learning all through your career.
Know that, depending on your manufacturing industry, there are different ways to learn about it. Books, courses, other studies are just fine, but be prepared to make numerous field trips to discover all you need to know – from practice.
Learn about the raw materials, the differences between them, how, where, and when they are sourced, and how to acquire the best ones possible. Learn how they are made and why they are made the way they are. Learn about all the equipment you need. Explore the market as much as you can. After all, you want to be a key player in it someday.
Learn about your competition too. If you can, talk to other manufacturers, see if you can get a piece of their brain on the products you are creating. You might find this more accessible than you think, and you will be surprised how many people delight in sharing their best practices, all in hopes of creating a better market. See if there is something you can do better or even something no one has ever done before. Maybe there is a problem out there you will be able to solve with your manufacturing business?
Finally, with all the knowledge and the limitations of your budget, try to figure out how you can create the best product.
All this said, be wary that you have to be prepared for making mistakes, too. And that’s okay if the error helps you learn more about the quality of the product you are aiming at creating.
If you are working on making a beauty product (lipstick, for example), sometimes it will take you numerous recipe changes for the outcome to be just up to your standards.
That’s all a part of the business.
2. Define your quality standards
Quality standards are defined by the industry you are working in, the location of your business, and its quality regulations (which vary from state to state) and your wishes for your manufacturing business.
As it’s the product YOU are creating, don’t be shy about creating your quality standards to your expectations. This can include everything from the right raw materials to the desired shade of color of your final product.
Once you do, stick to them.
Never compromise on quality. The quality of the product will be the first thing that your customers will notice, and there is nothing more disappointing than realizing that what you have been buying is not the same as it was before.
We all know of some brands whose quality has dropped over the years. Don’t let your manufacturing business fall into that trap.
If you have to make some changes because your budget requires you to do so, try to create a business plan that will help you maintain your quality. Sometimes something has to go, and maybe just creating a smaller batch for loyal customers is sufficient.
3. Train your employees
As an owner of the manufacturing business who has put all his time and effort into creating it, it is your responsibility to educate your employees on your product’s desired quality.
Create a quality control checklist and make sure they stick to it. Also, make sure your employees understand why quality is so important to you. Be sure they have all they need for their work to be at their best and listen to their needs and suggestions.
For example: If they keep asking you for a particular piece of equipment, learn about its importance and how it will help them perform. If you have an employee with years of experience working in your line of a manufacturing business, listen to them and let them help you.
Make sure you employ the right people and help your employees stay satisfied with their jobs and their working conditions – which need always be safe, clean, and respectful. Unmotivated workers won’t do your business any good, and even if they are here just to pass time until they find a job that better suits their dreams, make sure they perceive working for you as something rewarding. Job satisfaction goes both ways.
Organize regular training and make it mandatory for all. Sometimes things change fast in business, and you should all always be up to date. Plus, this will create a perfect time for bonding and learning more about each other.
4. Stay informed
Learning and training never stop. Neither should it for you. Even if you are the market leader, and your manufacturing business brings lots of clients, earnings and keeps growing rapidly, you should always keep an eye on the future.
Trends come and go almost every few months (sometimes even sooner, especially in the fashion or the beauty industry), technology changes rapidly, but so do the rules and the guidelines.
Depending on the type of industry you are in, you should always be up to date with new regulations concerning your industry. Those tend to be very strict if you are in the business of anything to do with medicine, cosmetics, tobacco or products for babies and children – like toys. Be sure you know what is allowed and advised, as well as what is forbidden.
Even if you are creating something of a traditional kind (like soaps with hundred year old recipes), you should be aware of what’s going on in the market, if your competition is changing, and how to keep adjusting to the modern times.
Try and be the one to stay ahead of the game.
5. Offer the best possible quality working environment
A business can only truly grow in a working environment that is safe, friendly, and motivating.
Be sure your manufacturing business offers just that.
Invest in acquiring the right venue, where you will have space for your business to flourish – the right type always depends on the product you are creating and the industry you’re working in. Don’t underestimate the power of lighting and the decor of the space – again, depending on your manufacturing type. Some colors are relaxing and motivating, some are irritating – avoid painting your walls a vivid red color, for example, as it may be disturbing to your workers.
Choose the right types of materials for your environment, whether or not you will need a changing room, a dining room – and where to locate bathrooms and how many you will need, depending on the number of your employees.
As mentioned above, equipment is a huge part of manufacturing. If you don’t own the right equipment, you won’t be able to create a product of the best possible quality. Not only that, but the wrong material will make it hard for your employees to follow your quality guidelines.
6. Create a rescue plan
What should you do if things don’t go as planned? What should you do if you get a faulty product vs. a whole batch?
What if clients return your products? What if you learn, on short notice, that you can’t source the materials from the same place anymore? You should have answers to all these questions and more – create your own set and try and think of a rescue plan for each. This way, you will be prepared when something goes wrong, and the quality of your products won’t be affected.
7. Guard your products
Again, never compromise on the quality of your manufacturing business. Rather compromise on offers you are getting because reputation goes a long way, and you want your manufacturing business to be known for creating only the best quality product. From where your line of work begins to where it stops, it’s what you can control. Even when it comes to transportation – if something can be delivered only in specific vehicles or amounts (for example, in freezer trucks), then stick to this quality standard. If creating a bigger batch of products would compromise their quality – reject the offer.
The list of examples could go on, but the bottom line is:
Oversee as much of it as you can.
Be sure your quality control is spotless
There is no doubt about the fact that: Staying on top of every little detail of the manufacturing business is a challenging task.
But if you have decided to be a part of the industry – then do things properly.
If not, you can harm your customer’s satisfaction, reputation, business growth, and (depending on the industry), the health and safety of others.
So if you are unsure how to come about your quality control standards on your own, you can always look into hiring other professionals to help you out.
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