When customers purchase a product, they give their complete agency to the manufacturing company. The trust that the manufacturer has conducted quality assurance, tested for safety, and that the product is safe, absolutely fit, and perfect for use comes naturally to the consumer. However, what happens when a defective product slips through the cracks and makes it to the customer? The result can be disastrous. It can cause potential damage to reputation, customer satisfaction, even physical harm, and not to mention financial losses and lost time. Product defects are a huge setback for any manufacturing company. The effects (that are widespread) of product defects linger for a long time. No wonder manufacturers must reduce manufacturing defects on priority. Can automation in manufacturing industry be one of the solutions to reduce defects?
The recent ‘US Product Safety and Recall Index’ report tells us that manufacturing defects are the primary cause of product recalls in 2023. The first quarter of 2023 had 5% more medical device recalls than the earlier quarter. It resulted in a chain reaction affecting many other devices, touching over 34% to 83.3 million units. The real numbers are terrifying. It all implies the specific need to have robust quality control measures and eventually reduce defects in manufacturing using automation in manufacturing industry.
How do product defects affect manufacturers?
Are you a manufacturer? Then, understanding the effects of product defects can be insightful to comprehend why it is essential to work towards eradicating them. While the significant effects are below, many more can come up.
- Financial challenges- decreased ROI and a lower bottom line.
- It directly results in lower productivity and less efficiency by workers during manufacturing tasks.
- Rise in additional costs due to discarding, fixing defective and damaged products, and repurposing.
- It affects the brand reputation adversely.
- Manufacturing defects result in a bad customer experience and reduce customer loyalty. It also results in the requirement to handle customer complaints, including potential litigation.
- Costs rise due to additional payroll for handling problems.
- Increased downtime and increased labor time negatively affect productivity and profitability.
How to reduce defects in manufacturing?
Having specific strategies through every step of the manufacturing process can work towards reducing manufacturing defects implementing automation in manufacturing. A proactive approach can identify potential issues before occurring and save the company from losses and the adverse consequences of manufacturing defects. Let us discuss some strategies companies can implement to achieve that.
Set out with clear Quality Standards
To reduce defects in your specific industry, you must first comprehend what defines a defect in your specific industry. Setting clear quality standards is crucial as these standards will work as the benchmark for improvement. Once you have defined the quality standards, you must ensure that everyone in your manufacturing business complies with the quality standards consistently.
Data collection and analysis
As we know, data is the new oil, and by mining through the data, you can find invaluable patterns and insights. This can pinpoint the problem areas hiding beneath the observant eye. So, you need to collect and analyze data to identify trends, patterns, and repetitive issues. You can identify the time since the defects appear and connect them with what made them happen. Analyzing and understanding these patterns will ensure you do not start from scratch every time you manufacture the product.
Automating manufacturing tasks is a crucial step in reducing product defects in manufacturing. A manufacturing unit has several routine tasks, such as material handling, drilling, packaging, cutting, picking, and more. Manufacturers can automate all these routine tasks taken up by humans in the business. Automation in manufacturing will ensure quality and perfection in products. Similarly, you can leverage computer vision technology and automate the inspection part, though we highly recommend having human-in-the-loop in the process.
Robust training program
When it comes down to finding the primary cause of manufacturing defects or even machine downtime, it all boils down to human error. Thus, we recommend that CTOs invest in the best training program, availing the latest technology to train their employees. Especially in manufacturing, augmented reality training programs can provide an interactive and effective experience for the frontline workforce to be aptly trained. For instance, Boeing implements AR and VR technologies that cut down 75% of training time and increase accuracy by 33% in its manufacturing. When the frontline workforce learns the craft better and faster, it will achieve zero product defects.
Detailed SOPs and instructions
Poorly written, hard to understand, or even outdated SOPs are cumbersome for manufacturers in industrial training. According to a survey by the International Association of Operational Excellence Professionals, only 80% of enterprises have SOPs in place, with only 40% being effective. Poorly written SOPs can lead to confusion, errors, and low productivity. Manufacturers should implement digital SOPs with clear and concise work instructions as part of the training program. These are also easy to update and track for compliance and can lead to safer and error-free manufacturing processes. Furthermore, they can make these instructions interactive with augmented reality, multimedia, and real-time feedback, making it more engaging.
Scale up the repair and maintenance procedures
The days of traditional old-school ways of troubleshooting and repairing are gone now. It is time to embrace the modern approach to repair and maintenance. Equipping your technicians with AR remote assistance, smart devices, and glasses can let them seamlessly fix issues. Porsche is one such enterprise that uses this technology.
Implement AI, 3D printing, AR, VR, and IoT technologies
A manufacturing plant involves many minute processes. You can integrate technology and make these processes faster, efficient, and error-free. Technologies such as AR, VR, IoT, and 3D printing applied at various levels can enhance quality. For instance, by integrating AR, you can have an overlay of the product on the actual item and check the accuracy of the quality. You can also leverage IoT to capture real-time performance data from machines. With artificial intelligence and AR systems, you can augment the workforce, detect errors, streamline maintenance, enhance decision-making, allow remote visual inspections, collaborate better, and much more. Moreover, artificial intelligence also helps bridge the labor shortage gap in manufacturing by augmenting the workforce capabilities.
Conclusion- Reducing manufacturing defects with automation in manufacturing industry
Reducing manufacturing defects is much more than a goal; it is a constant journey toward growth and excellence. This commitment towards zero-defect products yields happy customers, a strong brand, and enduring success. The key lies in automating manufacturing process and standardizing quality work instructions. This approach not only ensures compliance via a quality management system but also ensures workers have access to accurate procedures and expert guidance. The corresponding result is standardized task execution, reducing errors on the floor and minimizing rework. The right technology can make a big difference in refining the manufacturing process and reducing defects. Proceso has a comprehensive connected manufacturing solution that simplifies and streamlines the production and quality processes. Reach out to us for a live demo and discover why manufacturers are choosing Proceso, a no code process automation tool, to digitize their quality control checklists and enhance overall efficiency.