Quality impacts on your manufacturing company's bottom line. Some of you may think that ensuring quality Six Sigma, Toyota Production Systems, SPC, et al.
As a manufacturing consultant, I'm here to tell you that, "YES!" you can have a successful company without doing any of these things. I can already feel that some of you are about ready to get out your Six Sigma Belts and break some heads! Before you do, I will also say that unless you can come up with programs that can duplicate some of the successes of these processes and systems, your quality will suffer. If your quality suffers so, too, will your profits.
Studies have shown that companies with high quality realize 20% higher profits after the initial investment into the quality processes. That said, it is important for any company to evaluate the needs of its clients. After all, the profits come from revenue and revenue comes from the customer. It is not a matter of what you want to do, it is a matter of what THEY want and need.
For example, if you have mostly aerospace customers, chances are good that your quality system as well as other control systems will have to conform to many standards before you even quote the work. QS 9100 and using NADCAP approved vendors will be routine.
However, if most of your customers are more commercial in nature, such as lawn an garden tractor, or you are making parts for aftermarket service applications, you may not have to have strict standards in place.
Now, I'm not saying that you don't have to have a quality system in place or that you can make any kind of junk and sell it. After all, one of the reasons you are in business is to make a profit and by having better quality you can attract jobs with higher profit margins.
Your quality system must be tailored to your unique type of manufacturing and you must set up a system accordingly. You will still have to have a basic quality system in place to ensure that your instruments are calibrated and that you can prove you are making parts to specifications. Perhaps an ISO 9001 or 9002 system will suffice.
I've worked with manufacturing clients that insist their vendors have systems in place that are better than those they have in their own plants. I had one myself at a previous job that required all of its vendors to have certification in ISO 9001 or 2 or AS 9100 and they hadn't gotten either certification. But then again the customer is always right... even when they're wrong! Having a good quality system and measuring those items that affect your profitability will ensure you can stand up to any audit regardless of what your customers do at their facilities.
For those of you with Six Sigma Programs, Lean Systems, etc. I say, "bravo!" You say what you do and do it to the extreme while maximizing your profit potential. For those that haven't it is critical that you have in place sufficient systems to guarantee your quality is certain and you need to be able to prove that your parts are good. In either case, the company will be able to satisfy their customer's needs while maintaining its own profit margins.
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