Updated: Dec 20, 2022
Bluestreak Reading Time: 3 minutes
Quality audits are a cornerstone of the manufacturing process, but for many companies, they only cause stress. In the past, companies viewed quality audits as a necessary hassle that disrupted normal processes. No matter how much teams prepared, documentation went missing, gaps in data derailed audit timelines, and unexpected events sent everyone into a panic.
Audits shouldn’t be a massive burden on your administration and department teams. With the right systems in place, you can streamline your quality audits to ensure a good outcome every time. Here are three common obstacles to a streamlined audit and solutions to simplify the manufacturing process without sacrificing vital accuracy or feedback.
Audit Obstacle #1: Scattered Data
With a complex manufacturing process, data is scattered across departments, people, and systems, and there’s rarely a “single source of truth.” When it comes to audits, this scattered data can derail even the most organized company.
In order for you to fix the problem, data must become a single source of truth. First, store data in a consistent manner to reduce missing, repeated, or out-of-date data. As departments document different aspects of production, that documentation goes to a centralized system that eliminates the gaps or overlaps.
Next, companies must work on communication. Bring data to a central point designed to deliver updates, communications, and records to all parties. Specifications, for example, can be documented to show changes in real-time, notifying each contact point in production of any updates, with tags and comments flowing into the dashboard to show official compliance.
Finally, documentation is vital but human error is a real problem. Create automatic documentation to reduce human errors and inconsistencies, so when you pull reports for audits, you don’t have to spend time seeking out gaps or making corrections.
Audit Obstacle #2: Too Many Manual Processes
Once upon a time, we relied solely on paper records. Now, our processes are too complex for the traditional paper trail. Automation is not just a benefit; it’s a necessity for making it through modern audits.
There are three key components to automation:
“Low-value” tasks such as pulling reports. Building these reports within a single dashboard will provide a way for you to spend far less time trying to gather your documentation during your audits. You’ll have what you need quickly, whether you’ve got weeks or hours to prepare.
Documentation for work orders, including special instructions or changes. Once you move everything to a central repository, work orders become less of a hassle. The trail will be clear, and changes will be noted along the way.
Specifications module with access for all stakeholders. Specifications can get hairy with so many hands involved. Instead, a single module to manage specifications ensures that everyone communicates, everyone receives changes, and the proof of specifications is built in automatically for quality control.
Automation of these three key components in your audits—reports, work orders, and specifications—helps ensure that when you have to retrieve reports, you’ll do so as you need them and they’ll be accurate.
Even if you need a last-minute report, automation ensures consistency between departments and production touchpoints. You should be able to pull those reports under pressure and know that they’re accurate and up to date.
Audit Obstacle #3: Chain of Responsibility Is Unclear
Whether it’s an audit follow-up or just an ongoing chain of responsibility, drilling down historical data from past audits, changes, and contingencies helps ensure proper follow-up and future compliance.
To do this effectively, you must automate and update your records across the board. Each department needs access to the same information, making your dashboard a place where you can:
Utilize an active repository of all audits and relevant histories. You’ll be able to see past audits and make active decisions moving forward, as well as review changes made in response to audit results.
Automate data collection, both qualitative and quantitative, from multiple departments and sources. With data coming in, you’ll have the opportunity to move forward with each audit streamlining the next.
Funnel specifications, process, quality, etc. into a single source of truth. This, above all else, is one of the benefits of streamlining. There should be only one source of data truth within your organization. Once you’ve implemented this concept, your audits automatically get easier.
Once you have these records, the chain of responsibility is clear. You’ll be able to quickly find and review past audits and automate documentation from audit processes and follow-ups. These leave nothing to chance and ensure that with each audit, you get better results.
Your audit can be a source of insight rather than a headache. Using audits for real change and data-driven decisions provides a strong foundation for future audits—no scrambling and no forgotten pieces.
The key to a streamlined audit is automation and follow-through. With the right dashboard, these aspects of an audit process no longer have to be painful. Getting rid of paper, data silos, and manual processes will go a long way to ensuring that you have excellent audit experiences with minimal disruption.
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, contact us for a free demo today!
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.