A united team to optimise manufacturing quality

Currently, everyone is conscious of the price of the items they buy. As the costs soar, everything we spend money on has to be considered even more stringently against a set of criteria. And as ETQ’s (now part of Hexagon) CEO, Rob Gremley (pictured above), said in the opening of his HxGNLIVE keynote, top of that list by a considerable margin is the criterion of quality.

Manufacturers have a tough job to convince their customers that their product is the one to go with, and that task is getting even tougher. With regulatory pressures, supply chain disruption and demand for higher and higher quality, businesses need to take control of their quality systems, enabling them to make better decisions and take faster corrective actions.

ETQ’s Reliance platform has been the market-leading quality management system (QMS) for 30 years, now supporting a 1 million+ user-base, all delivered from the cloud. With customers as diverse as Lockheed Martin, Boar’s Head and NVIDIA, Reliance helps manufacturers digitalise and optimise their quality data, making significant efficiency gains and cost savings, while improving product and service quality.

Manufacturers will not need to be reminded of the implications of getting quality standards wrong. But since the surge in social media platforms, bad news spreads quicker than ever. If a customer feels aggrieved, they may give you an opportunity to resolve it by calling the helpline, but often now their first port of call is the company Twitter account, which is visible to everyone.

Driving quality in care products

To help provide more context to Reliance’s range of benefits, Rob Gremley introduced Ben Bollenbacher of US personal care corporation, Kimberly-Clark. Their reach is incredible: 45,000 employees across 83 manufacturing locations, producing items sold in 175 locations. Twenty-five per cent of the world’s population use Kimberly-Clark products every day! Another important consideration is that many of the products Kimberly-Clark manufacture feature in the mother & baby category, where consumers have an even greater focus on quality and safety.

With this in mind, Kimberly-Clark use ETQ’s platform for their safety as well as quality processes and have 3,000 suppliers directly linked into their system. Prior to its introduction the various business units each had their own QMS (some built their own), requiring significant manual data input. Reliance replaced all of these disparate systems to create standardised, connected processes that improve cycle time visibility and automate reporting and analytics.

Ben Bollenbacher presented the example of a supplier corrective action request. Before they had ETQ’s QMS, these had to be carried out by email, which was a highly time-consuming process. Now, once the shopfloor selects the supplier location, the ETQ system transmits all the data and relevant photos to the supplier automatically. The shopfloor is notified on progress as the system takes care of all the labour-intensive processes.

The power of autonomy

Next, Rob Gremley asked the question, what if all this could happen autonomously? What if quality control could be entirely linked to quality management so all these processes were seamlessly connected and able to use the vast amounts of available data to predict issues before they occur and resolve them.

ETQ’s Morgan Palmer joined the stage and stated that Hexagon is perfectly positioned to deliver this vision of autonomous quality management, and key to this future will be the newly-launched Nexus platform. Nexus will empower manufacturers with the ability to harness autonomous quality processes, transforming data into decisions.

On the railroad to efficiency gains

Sarah Hanks of rail equipment manufacturer, GE Transportation (Wabtec), detailed their experience of the benefits gained since the Reliance QMS was introduced to their processes where quality is mission-critical to the safety of people using transport systems. A key aspect to highlight is the fact GE Transportation have also implemented Hexagon’s Q-DAS statistical process control software, enabling the two systems to integrate and work together, so when parts are made, the data automatically feeds from Q-DAS into Reliance. When a part doesn’t meet specification, a report is automatically generated and teams are immediately alerted to take action. The resulting numbers are impressive, with 75% increase in defect visibility, 30% improvement in cycle time and 50% reduction in tooling costs.

Conclusion

This keynote highlighted the vital role digitalisation has in driving greater control over quality and safety processes. By harnessing the huge quantities of data in manufacturing and putting it to work, we will  make it far easier for quality professionals to drive preventive and corrective actions for the benefit of consumers and businesses alike.

If you missed this keynote live during HxGN LIVE, catch up with the on-demand version here:

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