Quality assurance plus quality control for total quality management is a team effort.
Understanding the differences between quality assurance and quality control is essential for learning how to achieve total quality management. In the Electronics Production Department at Silversphere, our work is never-ending in continuing to master this concept. At Silversphere, we tailor our current methods towards the work of an electronic production team. These processes can be modified for any company or department to help fit the needs of their quality standards and goals.
Quality assurance is the process of maintaining quality through standards, methods, and procedures. These are set in place to help meet the expectations and product needs of the consumer. We continue to evaluate to be proactive and prevent defects from occurring to ensure a high standard of product outcomes.
Communication is vital to achieving quality assurance. All departments must be on board with each one of the standards and practices. This includes the departments of product design and development including validation, support, training, product assembly, and functional testing. This operation is meant to provide improvement through communication and implementation of new solutions.
Achieving success in the production department of most companies depends on these same two key factors when releasing new products; manufacturing design and equipment utilization. To understand the needs of the manufacturing, meetings must be held between the engineering and design teams. The meetings ensure a plan is attainable for what the production team has available to them. Product Managers and Production Departments should address upcoming products and manufacturing specifications in addition to how those specifications are with current equipment.
Proper tools and equipment must be provided to see out the vision for a new product. We ensure that appropriate steps are taken for training and procurement of necessary equipment to make assembly possible. Before a project begins, please check tools for proper maintenance. Personnel is vital when taking on a new project for your production team. Be sure to have highly skilled workers on more challenging tasks and require proper training for each worker managing any new work.
It is important to ensure procedure and work instructions are updated in real-time across all workstations. Encourage feedback from employees to make sure they understand, follow these procedures, and modify it to their position if needed. The team should continue to follow the industry guidelines for the handling of all electronic components during this process including any ESD (electrostatic discharge) and handling moisture sensitive devices practices. Maintaining a static-free environment can be achieved with foot straps, wrist straps, and ESD mats at each workstation. Additionally, there are special coatings that can be applied to the floor for static-free solutions. Utilizing dry cabinets for storage of moisture sensitive devices is another tool used. At Silversphere, we use every one of these risk-reducing practices for our production team. We also follow proper handling and storage procedures for these components as specified on the manufacturers' documentation. All of these preventative steps can all help prevent problems, defect opportunities from occurring in the assembly process.
Quality control focuses on the detection and verification of the product before it reaches the customer. To have success in quality control, we should continuously question, "If the process fails, will a problem be caught before the device is in the hands of the customer?" Something as simple as a worn-out component or an incorrectly used tool may cause unintentional damage and create a large-scale issue if not accurately detected.
We depend on employees to detect imperfections to help eliminate defect trends before they turn into a more significant problem. We use high-quality inspection tools and equipment to inspect all devices throughout our assembly process.
Products that fail during production testing and assembly process are evaluated and repaired by the Quality Assurance Supervisor. These defects and suspected causes are recorded and tracked. We do this to detect any defect trends or recurring issues with the product.
Hold meetings with your production team to discuss any failures to gain feedback and suggestions to determine the root cause is essential from preventing failures from happening again. We consider the current processes and determine if something in the process needs to change. Some changes could be better clarifying instructions, providing new tools, or additional training.
When the entire team has a chance to give feedback and see their ideas put into practice, they have a better perspective of the end goal. The team feels more tied to the project; they are motivated to strive for better quality and take responsibility to speak up to find improvements.
So, what your team should be asking is "If something does have a problem in the field, is there a process in place to learn from this, to get proper feedback, and determine root cause?" At Silversphere, we have a zero-defect team with employees ranging across multiple departments that help us to meet this standard with all the practices we've mentioned.
When it comes to returned items, we make sure to test and determine whether the issue stemmed from a hardware failure, software issue, or incorrect end-user training. We then discuss the results of the evaluation and propose solutions for moving forward. Following this process will determine the root cause of the returns and assess if new quality assurance steps are needed to prevent reoccurrence. Using these practices allow Silversphere, as a company, to become conscious of the part we play in product outcome.
Silversphere is proud to have developed a zero-defect team by following through with a process for quality assurance and control. Establishing a streamlined process for each of these topics does not happen overnight. It may take not only years of trying different methods to achieve but slowing improves from past experiences. Using not only our technical resources but our human resources is crucial to continue adapting our practices for each new product we create.