How to Improve the Quality of Your Products (and Why You Should)

brown pump bottle

The manufacturing industry is competitive and challenging. Depending on your specific environment, it’s likely that margins are low, competition is fierce, and opportunities for true innovation are limited. 

One of the best ways to differentiate your company, make your customers more satisfied, and ultimately turn a greater profit is to improve the overall quality of your shipped products.

But how can you do this?

Implement Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT)

Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT) is a quality assurance process in manufacturing. It includes a sequence of inspections and tests designed to ensure that a given product meets all the specified criteria for a customer’s needs. This way, you can all but guarantee that every product shipped to your customers meets your minimum standards and the criteria established by your customers.

Ideally, consistent processes and reliable equipment should be enough to guarantee that all your products are practically flawless. But unfortunately, blind spots and hiccups can compromise even the best and most polished setups. Only a final round of acceptance testing is ample to create a sufficient likelihood of shipping a compliant, polished final product.

Master the Arts of Quality Assurance and Quality Control

Quality assurance and quality control are sometimes used interchangeably, but they represent distinct concepts. Quality assurance is a broad umbrella of different strategies and tactics designed to increase the quality of your manufacturing output. Quality control is one specific subset of strategies and tactics within this umbrella, focusing on the final review steps before these products are released. In contrast, quality assurance focuses on increasing product quality at all stages of design and production.

Mastering the arts of both quality assurance and quality control is a necessary step for improving overall product quality. There are many ways to approach this, such as officially documenting QA and QC procedures, providing more employee education and training, and introducing a reward system to ensure greater compliance.

Improve Your Supplier Relationships

Another way to improve product quality is to improve your supplier relationships. If you’re consistently working with the best people in the industry and you’re getting access to some of the best materials, you’ll end up with much better products at the end of the production line.

Finding and building relationships with those valuable suppliers can be challenging in itself. But if you’re willing to consistently reevaluate your existing relationships and explore new territory, you should be able to gradually optimize your supplier network.

Optimize Your Internal Processes

Similarly, you should work to optimize your internal processes. Your production line should be straightforward and efficient, and you need to have qualified, properly trained individuals on that line to make those processes work. It takes time to reach peak efficiency in this area; spend some time auditing and analyzing your existing workflows and some time experimenting with new flows to gradually inch closer to perfection (even if you never fully reach it).

Institute Multiple Checks and Balances

Next, consider adding more checks and balances to your quality controls and quality testing. Instead of having one person, in isolation, testing your products, consider multiple rounds of testing and supervisory review. This will eat into your overall efficiency, but it’s an investment that could easily pay for itself.

Document and Analyze Deviations

Pay attention to any quality failures or issues that arise in your analysis. Then, conduct root cause analysis to figure out what went wrong – and prevent recurrences of those quality issues. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Human error. In most manufacturing settings, human error is the biggest risk. Simple mistakes in operating equipment or oversights in review processes can cause massive quality issues.
  • Equipment failure. If your equipment fails or is improperly maintained, it won’t be able to manufacture products the way you need.
  • Design flaws. Sometimes, deviations are attributable to inherent flaws in the design of these products.
  • Process flaws. Other times, deviations arise from process flaws or inefficiencies in your high-level workflows.
  • Supply/material issues. You also need to be aware of potential supply and material issues that can result in quality deviations.

Get Customer Feedback

Get customer feedback to see where your products are lacking. They might have recommendations for tweaks you can make to improve the products or complaints about certain flaws or missing features. The more you learn from customer feedback, the better you can serve your customers.

Continue Improving

Continuous improvement is the way forward. Keep refining your products, your production line, and all your quality testing processes to maintain your forward momentum.

These strategies should be sufficient to greatly improve the quality of your manufacturing products. With better products, you’ll have happier customers, and with happier customers, your business will be able to flourish.