Why Electronics Manufacturers Need to Focus on Quality Manufacturing

Why Electronics Manufacturers Need to Focus on Quality Manufacturing

Author Tejas Puranik

No matter the industry you’re in, quality is important. For electronics manufacturers, quality has a powerful impact on brand reputation. It’s also a determining factor in your product’s longevity, the frequency and severity of recalls, and the overall cost of production. An effective quality management system (QMS) helps you minimize scrap and waste, reduce customer returns, and strengthen brand loyalty. For many electronics manufacturers, quality management is also a critical factor in meeting stringent governmental and customer mandated compliance standards.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the primary benefits that a good QMS system offers for electronics manufacturers:

#1: Ensure Compliance

If you have any customers in the medical device industry, aerospace & defense, or other regulated sectors of our economy, chances are you’ve been faced with stringent federal and state regulations. Customers typically impose their own standards as well, requiring manufacturers to produce detailed and compliance records without delay. That can be very time-consuming, especially if you’re working with paper-based systems or manual spreadsheets. Without automated systems designed to proactively capture important quality data, there’s a high likelihood that errors and omissions will slip through the cracks. Paperwork may be misfiled or misplaced. Data entry errors may happen on occasion. Document version control can get confusing.

A well-implemented QMS system offers automated workflows, simple version control, and access to records on demand. In short, it ensures that your team is following the required procedures, keeping accurate records, and doing its part to adhere to quality standards and maintain full compliance.

#2: Be Recognized as Leader in Quality Excellence

Many organizations seek ISO 9001 certification as evidence to the marketplace that they’re proactive about quality and that they have put the right standards and processes in place to support consistently high product quality and continuous improvement. To achieve that, companies must thoroughly document their policies, procedures, and quality standards.

They must also perform well on external quality audits conducted by third-party accreditation bodies. With the right QMS system in place, quality management leaders have immediate access to all the information they need. Company personnel have a clear record of everything that happened, when it occurred, who is responsible, and who approved it. Companies that use our Intellect QMS platform have told us that their audits have never gone as smoothly as they do now. Everything’s in one place, easily accessible in just moments.

For many companies, ISO 9001 certification is only a starting point, though. If you’re a supplier to the medical device industry, you’ll need to consider ISO 13485 certification as well. Many electronics manufacturers also seek certifications for ISO 14001 (environmental management) and ISO 22301 (business continuity management) as well.

All of these measures send a clear signal to potential buyers that your organization takes quality excellence seriously.

#3: Operate More Efficiently

Many electronics manufacturers still conflate quality management with quality assurance. They view quality as something that happens only after the production process is complete. Those organizations tend to have much higher rework rates than their industry peers. The top performers understand that quality needs to be integral to all of their business processes.

Quality experts have long recognized that it’s easier and less expensive to fix problems earlier in the production process than to fix things after the fact. Depending on the exact nature of the electronics products you manufacture, that can sometimes be an especially expensive proposition. Troubleshooting and pinpointing problems in a highly complex product is often not worth the time. The result is even more scrap.

Companies can achieve much better results when they focus on prevention and continuous improvement from the outset, reducing the likelihood that nonconformances will emerge in the first place. By implementing processes that are inherently designed to achieve quality, companies can drive significant cost savings. The best QMS systems can help with process monitoring and see that corrective action takes place. A QMS system with Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) capabilities takes this concept even further, helping product managers and engineers to design products and processes with quality built in.

#4: Manage Risk

Anytime a quality issue can occur at scale, it creates a material risk for your company. By proactively addressing quality throughout the entire product lifecycle, you can dramatically reduce the chances of a major quality problem with significant reputational and financial implications.

Most electronics manufacturers routinely deal with frequent engineering change orders. The best QMS software ensures that all stakeholders are working with the latest revisions, supported by the-most-up-to-date documentation. When a company relies on paper-based systems, things can sometimes fall through the cracks. If someone pulls an old routing document or drawing from their files, they may be using the wrong set of specs. That can lead to a much bigger problem in which an entire production run must be reworked or scrapped altogether.

#5: Increase Agility

For complex products like electronics, it’s important to identify problems as early as possible so they can be rectified promptly. If you don’t have clear and immediate visibility to what’s happening on the front lines of your business, you may not see problems until it’s too late.

Across virtually every industry, if companies are realizing the powerful benefits of data analytics. A modern QMS system centralizes all quality related data in one place, making it possible to track key performance indicators (KPIs) in real-time. That empowers your team to identify potential problems as soon as they emerge. In contrast, when information about quality is delayed, that inevitably leads to a slower response.

#6: Win More Customers

Companies that consistently deliver high quality stand a much better chance at winning the hearts and minds of customers, – not to mention their business. Customers who have a poor experience with your product are more likely to take their business to your competition.

Simply put, a reputation for quality excellence is a long-term corporate strategic asset. It takes time and endurance to build that kind of reputation, beginning with a firm commitment to quality excellence built around the right people, processes, and technology.

#7: Build a Positive Organizational Culture

Last but not least, effective quality programs provide a solid foundation for a culture of excellence. In the past, we’ve written extensively about the importance of organizational culture, – for example, here, here, and here. An organization that exudes quality excellence offers a better, more satisfying work experience. It’s easier to attract and retain employees, and they’re more productive in their work.

People naturally want to be part of a winning team, and they want to know that what they’re doing makes a difference. A good QMS system provides a solid foundation upon which to build a successful quality program. It’s an essential element in helping your people to be more productive and effective in their jobs.