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How Manufacturers Master External Quality Audits

Updated: Aug 15, 2023


Bluestreak Reading Time: 3 minutes

Let’s face it. Audits are never fun, especially if you’re using a manual process. They involve:

  • Tracking down every scrap of paper that you need to prove that you’ve done everything right

  • Proving finished products meet the conformance standards that your customer demanded

  • Documenting the testing process

It can be time-consuming and painful for manufacturers that just want to check off a job as done and move on to the next one. And that’s if everything goes right. Requests for correcting nonconformities or findings from an external quality audit are common. These lead to corrective and preventative actions and may require rework. That adds a delay to processing invoices and can push payments further downstream. Even when you’ve wrapped things up, customers may require further external audits to confirm that the corrective actions worked as required. What if there was a way to cut audit times in half?

Mastering an External Quality Audit

There is an easier way to accomplish an external quality audit: digital transformation.

By moving your production process and tracking to an integrated quality management system and manufacturing execution system (QMS + MES), you can reduce audit time by as much as 50%. That’s less downtime for your facility, fewer worker hours tied up in tracking down paperwork, and more productive hours for your production line. Other benefits include:

  • A QMS + MES platform tracks everything in real-time.

  • It captures every data point at every stop in the production pathway.

  • Statistical process control helps uncover root causes more easily for faster correction.

  • It tracks maintenance, repair, and equipment qualifications.

  • It tracks training and operator qualifications.

With the right MES + QMS software, your audit trail will be automated. It keeps track of everything that you need to keep business flowing and improve productivity on the shop floor. There’s no more lost paperwork or conflicting results. It automates systems to provide real-time and accurate information at every phase of the production process and keeps information together to make the audit process go faster.

Enhanced Documentation

A detailed, time-stamped, and user-identified audit trail for each document can verify compliance with accreditations, certifications, and compliance standards, including ISO 9001, AS9100, MedAccred, ITAR, EAR, etc.

There’s no more wondering who has access to critical files, who changed operating procedures, or what changes were made. It’s all there in the digital documentation.

Paperless reporting follows the tracking, approvals, notification, and policy administration of quality documentation. It creates gatekeepers for approval and electronically tracks every interaction at every step. The right QMS + MES stores all test result data, so there is full transparency. This includes both the rest values themselves and the process used for reporting.

End-to-end control—from quoting to invoicing, maintenance, production tracking, and real-time customer portal access—creates a structured audit trail to track jobs throughout the entire production cycle. This eliminates information silos by using a fully extensible and audit-compliant QMS.

Enhanced Qualifications

Bluestreak’s QMS + MES also prevents potential errors that could lead to quality problems or audit issues, such as:

  • Work order specifications that are replaced with revisions

  • Operators who attempt to process loads without documented training or certifications

  • Equipment being used that isn’t qualified (or qualifications have lapsed)

  • Vendors that aren’t qualified for specific jobs or have lapsed qualifications

  • Failing to note changes to qualifications, certifications, instrument calibration, personnel, or survey requirements

The Benefits of Better Audits

Continuous monitoring and control of manufacturing processes lead to better audits. Everyone from the front office to the production floor will appreciate an efficient external quality audit, including your customers. By speeding up your audit process and conducting a more thorough external quality audit using QMS + MES, your manufacturing business will lower your total cost of production. A 50% reduction in time spent on audits results in worker hours that can be put to use in other ways that will make you money.

It saves time and frustration, catches errors faster, and makes your operation more efficient. When an external quality audit is completed quickly with every necessary piece of information, it improves customer confidence and satisfaction. They will rest assured that the job they’re paying for has been done right to their specifications. It can also enhance your image and reputation. When you consistently clear audits without problems, it’s a clear indication to customers and prospective customers that you take quality seriously and do what it takes to get things right.

Save Time, Save Money

Audits can be time-consuming and expensive propositions. With the proper controls, authorizations, and documentation readily available, audits can be completed much more quickly. Any time that you save when dealing with an audit will also save you money.

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 helps build better relationships with your customers, contact us for a free demo today!

About Bluestreak™:

Bluestreak™ is a powerful Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and a fully integrated Quality Management System (QMS), designed for the manufacturing environment and service-based manufacturing companies ( metal-treating/powder-coating, plating, heat-treating, forging, and metal-finishing), businesses that receive customers’ parts, perform a process (service) on them, and send those parts back to the customer). Companies need MES software tailored to specific functionality and workflow needs such as industry-specific specifications management, intuitive scheduling control for both staff and machinery maintenance, and the ability to manage work orders and track real-time data. If different work centers on the production floor aren’t “speaking” to each other via the MES, the data loses value and becomes disjointed or lost in disparate silos.

Bluestreak | Bright AM™ is an MES + QMS software solution specifically designed to manage and optimize the unique requirements of Additive Manufacturing’s production of parts and powder inventory usage.

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