In our past blog posts, we’ve frequently discussed the importance of increasing manufacturing efficiency, reducing waste in your facility, and how digital technology can help your business.
But all these new updates can quickly be undercut if your business consistently disappoints customers with incorrect or broken products.
A lack of sufficient quality control can be devastating over time, as it clogs up your systems with returns, wastes time as your team members are forced to reconfigure their processes and hurts your bottom line.
Don’t settle for poor quality control that ends up damaging your business in the long. Below, we cover our top tips for boosting your quality control process and success.
STANDARDIZE YOUR SYSTEM
How can you keep track of what processes are helping or hurting your quality control if there’s a lack of defined processes?
First, it’s time to standardize your QC system across your warehouse, not just within individual areas. And sometimes, paper processes make this extremely difficult.
Digital solutions like warehouse management systems (WMS) and enterprise resource platforms (ERP) are multifunctional. They’re designed to organize your quality control activities, methods and process. They can also automate and track other major data points for your business, all in one place.
WMS: A WMS comprises software, hardware and processes that allow warehouses to track each stage of a product’s journey. Centralizing the information makes tracking inventory, pulling goods and shipping products more efficient. A WMS often provides a comprehensive analysis of a warehouse’s operations, allowing leaders to make better data-driven decisions.
ERP: An Enterprise Resource Platform is a system of integrated and centralized applications that manage and automate various recurring tasks, like inventory management or shipping updates and notifications. Generally speaking, an ERP is a helpful tool for many industries, but it can be extremely valuable for manufacturers and warehouse facilities.
These devices and platforms allow you to keep track of your products during every stage, meaning you can monitor how an item progresses through quality control. This way, if there’s a complaint from a customer, you’ll be able to refer to your system and see where the process broke down.
These digital systems can be beneficial, but there are additional ways to create a more reliable quality control process.
EMBRACING LEAN MANUFACTURING
We’ve also extolled the virtues of lean manufacturing in the past to help improve your warehouse’s overall efficiency. But this system can also offer solutions for boosting your quality control success.
As a reminder, lean manufacturing is a method that helps warehouses take advantage of opportunities for improvement and focus on value creation for customers. Lean manufacturing aims to improve warehouse processes by maximizing value and minimizing waste.
Two significant aspects of lean manufacturing can be especially helpful when revamping your QC:
- Picking Strategy: Maybe your warehouse’s picking strategy is no longer relevant or helpful to your current process. Analyzing the success of your current picking system can lead to choosing a new version that’s a better fit. (For example, zone picking, wave picking or batch picking).
- Analyze Walking Time: Lean manufacturing asks you to optimize your process as much as possible to cut down on wasted time. This includes reviewing the amount of time your employees must spend walking to complete orders. For example, suppose your most popular products are kept in the very back of the warehouse, on the opposite side of the packing and delivery areas. In that case, your warehouse is losing both time and money as your employees spend more time than necessary picking popular products when they could be more conveniently placed.
Yes, lean manufacturing requires some shifting in your warehouse process. But these two improvements can get you on the path to a more successful, streamlined QC process and overall warehouse production system.
We noted above that WMS and ERP systems can optimize your operations and stay organized, but it’s not only digital methods that can eliminate QC obstacles.
These three steps can further your organizational process:
- Keeping a Clean Workspace: Don’t overlook the cleanliness and neatness of your different warehouse spaces for the sake of hitting a quota. By not adhering to your warehouse’s organizational standards, your employees could be at risk for everything from trips and slips to falling products to being exposed to dangerous chemicals.
- Reducing Inventory: Excess inventory can quickly put a strain on your staff, your storage systems and potentially even rent or insurance costs. This often occurs when the number of products sold falls out of the expected demand. While manufacturers cannot control larger issues like changing economic conditions, they can adhere to an inventory organization system that gives a clear view of inventory metrics and trends.
- Optimizing Your Layout: Quality control can be influenced by something as simple as ensuring your warehouse makes the most of its floor space and storage abilities. Storing products wherever they fit without an organizational strategy means there’s a likelihood that inventory will get lost or, worse, damaged.
What’s a good way to ensure that your new quality control measures are working? A quick, unscheduled review of the process.
Once you’ve incorporated some of the systems we’ve discussed, we suggest checking in every quarter or so – not to catch employees off guard on purpose. Instead, it should be considered a helpful process to ensure that the QC rules are followed and executed successfully.
To ensure that no major surprises occur during these tests, the best thing your management team can do is keep a consistent training schedule for your employees. Ensure they have the tools, understanding and defined protocol to succeed before testing them.
INVEST IN INDUSTRIAL MANIPULATORS
Having material handlers that can carefully and expertly handle your inventory is essential for your quality control process. With industrial manipulators, your team doesn’t have to rely on physical strength to move heavy products, leading to damaged products or injuries. They’re designed to handle pallets and products of all different dimensions and characteristics and can even be customized to fit your facility’s unique needs.
If your warehouse currently doesn’t implement material handlers in your day-to-day, now is an excellent time to change that. Contact Dalmec today to find the best handlers for you and your warehouse needs.