4 Tips for Better Manufacturing Audits

Updated: Apr 14

Bluestreak Reading Time: 4 minutes

If the thought of auditors fills you with a sense of dread, it’s time to change your audit process. With the amount of data and automation available in manufacturing, there’s no reason to stress over the details of an audit. You can use the right tools at the right time to harness data and receive actionable insights in real time to reduce audit stress and pressure.

The following four steps will help you ace every manufacturing audit and save time along the way.

Tip #1: Streamline Documentation

Product audits always start with the product specifications. These must remain up to date with clear and concise documentation for audit purposes. But you update a specification, it doesn’t always make it to every contact point along your product pipeline.

If your documentation is faulty, missing pieces, or inconsistent, typical audit prep for specifications alone may take hours. Assuring that all departments are aware of all the changes and that all tasks throughout production are compliant adds even more to this prep time.

With data availability, there’s no excuse for missing a central dashboard designed to communicate changes across the board. Your silos are killing your productivity on many levels (not just the audit process), and streamlining your process with this central dashboard will save you hours of backtracking your documentation.

Look for a dashboard that supplies robust manager tools to track specification updates, provides a complete audit trail, and cross-references with processes, personnel, equipment, and material vendors. This data should always be at your fingertips, ready for quick retrieval during manufacturing audits.

Tip #2: Increase Work Order Visibility

Here’s your best-case scenario: you have the ability to (fully) sequence and schedule all production operations, including rush order and priorities, which brings work orders full circle, back to your client, and accurately invoiced. You remain confident that every work order considers the latest specifications, no matter how recent. Unfortunately, many manufacturing production pipelines (and thus, manufacturing audit prep) look like this instead:

  • Collecting quotes, work orders, specifications, materials, equipment, operators, repair and maintenance schedules, final products, and customer invoices

  • Reaching out to multiple departments, including accounting, procurement, manufacturing, maintenance, and quality

  • Waiting for a response from each department (potentially for days)

  • Compiling these documents for hours or days, combing through infinite details, and straightening out any missing information

Streamlining removes those steps and integrates work orders into one seamless function designed to leave a “paper” trail. Work orders should integrate with your documentation, creating an enhanced work order with the most up-to-date specifications and consistency from the quote to the newest set. Once you know that the right products are set for production, you add them to the queue.

This process creates an intuitive and dynamic schedule managed through a scheduling module. It is no longer a stationary, first-come-first-served production line. You can handle impacts to production with intuitive grace instead of sideline panic for planners and mechanics.

With all open orders in front of a planner, you streamline changes by looking for jobs to avoid unnecessary equipment or materials changes. You can prioritize hot jobs and allow flexibility in scheduling with the instant downstream communication of changes. Everyone in the line sees the impacts on deadlines when changes and/or downtime occur.

Once production is complete, shipping and invoicing take over. The final result is step-by-step documentation, from quote to production and customer receipt. With this full-stream document trail, manufacturing audit prep is easy.

Tip #3: Implement Advanced Quality Management

Quality management requires robust data. Unfortunately, with large amounts of data collected from multiple people, there’s a huge risk of human error along the way. With advanced quality management, you can remove human error from the reporting process.

Quality management isn’t about just collecting data from the production process. You must compile and review it against specifications and items ordered. Once you have the data, you must transform it into reports, material certifications, and risk analyses. Otherwise, there’s room for noncompliance and the risk of regulatory consequences. Automation ensures that these reports are consistent and available immediately from your dashboard.

Without automation, your data sits in raw form, adding hours or days to your audit prep process. With automation, you can quickly pull reports in a way that shows the full picture that your auditor needs. Your audit’s quality segment takes just minutes to create.

Tip #4: Create Real-Time Production Tracking

The final step is tracking what happens on your production floor. There’s a ton of information available, but it’s just raw data without visualization and automation. A pathway module on your dashboard enables you to track all the minute details and any major mistakes during production.

Operators and supervisors need to know when things change, when mistakes occur, and when equipment malfunctions. Real-time notifications allow for quick shifts and expected remediation when required. When you align these notifications with the other three tips, you get a full-picture audit trail of every step of production.

Previous audit preparations may have included pulling quality issues from each order, ensuring that they aligned with the correct order, specifications, and equipment. These can now exist in a single central database for quick access.

What All These Tips Have in Common: Automation

Seamless access to audit documents leads to seamless audits. Preparation doesn’t need to be painstaking and audits don’t need to be stressful. Lack of documentation or disorganized paperwork are two major red flags for any auditor. The right automation can not only streamline your daily operations but also improve your audit process.

Bluestreak modules work together to ensure that you have all the documentation, reports, and data insights that you need to breeze through audits every single time.

If you’re tired of business being halted for lengthy audit processes and want to see how automation not only cuts your audit times in half but also helps build better relationships with your customers.

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