One of the cornerstones to achieving continuous improvement is a command of the quality inspection process. Criteria based inspection plans are created to meet specific regulatory requirements and workflows, depending upon where the product is in the manufacturing lifecycle. Online visibility and real-time tracking of incoming raw materials, parts, and subassemblies are critical to successful inspections. An effective quality management solution can manage all the information related to inspections, and thus deliver a unified view of inspection criteria and results to key company personnel.
A streamlined inspection process eliminates paper documents, standardizes quality, and increases efficiencies on the shop floor. A thorough understanding of the types of inspections that can be automated will help you develop a strategy for success.
The most common and fully featured inspections are:
• Source / On-site Supplier Inspection
• Receiving Inspection
• Shop Floor Inspection (In-Process)
• Final Inspection
• First Article Inspection
• Returned Material Inspection
• Stocked Re-Inspections
• Field Inspections
Source / On-site Supplier Inspection
Source inspections are completed at the supplier prior to shipment to your facility. Inspectors are provided detailed work instructions that can be written specifically for the part, the manufacturer or for a broader part type. Source inspections are the first step in the process that tests for defects and nonconformance, prior to next assembly and determination of production order quantity. These supplier inspections validate compliance with engineering drawings and test things like castings and forgings before production begins. Skill level validation and tool recording are managed at each step to ensure compliance and traceability of tool usage (in case the tool is found to be out of tolerance). Source inspections can be performed by internal or external providers depending on your level of delegation.
A receiving inspection serves as a gate keeper prior to a product reaching your inventory. Received materials, components, or finished goods are inspected at a designated step in the product lifecycle. Inspection steps and criteria are authored, revised and approved at the part number, part group and commodity level. To help lower costs, skip lot processing and sampling can be completed at the part/operation level to reduce the number of required inspections for a good supplier. It is the responsibility of inspectors to ensure that the material received arrives as specified in the purchase order and is evaluated for any damage to avoid potential problems later in the production process.
Shop Floor Inspection (In-Process)
Shop floor inspections seek to examine workflow on the shop floor with the goal of reducing cycle time and Work-in-Process (WIP), while increasing capacity. Resources are evaluated to ensure proper training. Shop floor environmental factors are taken into consideration and products are inspected directly on the shop floor. Shop floor inspections can be performed by both manufacturing and inspection personnel.
Final inspections take place when production is complete. The overall product is measured against engineering, customer requirements, and standards. Final inspections and device approvals play an integral role in the decision to move items to stock or shipment. An inspection report is run prior to final device approval to ensure there are no open items. A final inspection report will validate that all required operations are complete, all nonconformances have been resolved, and required traceability has been recorded.
First Article Inspection
A first article inspection is an initial sampling of a manufactured product to ensure conformity. The product or part is tested to see that it is processed as intended and conforms to the design specifications. For companies in highly regulated industries, a first article inspection will test for compliance with industry regulations. Based on the result of the inspection, an inspector may be presented with additional instructions at receiving or within the manufacturing process.
Returned Material Inspection
Materials that do not conform to specifications are returned to the manufacturer for rework or repair. Inspection of these materials is necessary before products may be returned to inventory. Returned material inspections link nonconformances with prepopulated data from the inspection for efficient and accurate processing and approval.
Product quality can change over time so testing intervals are established. If a problem is found with the current stock, sometimes it is necessary to pull all stock from the storeroom and Work-in-process (WIP) to reinspect for the same problem.
Inspections performed in the field have unique requirements. Standards specific to the organization are measured such as operational procedures, site safety, compliance, and product quality.
The successful completion of the quality inspection process relies on a technologically advanced solution that enables the automation of critical processes and ensures compliance objectives are met. Automated scheduling, routings, work instructions, and escalations significantly increase productivity. With an effective quality management system, quality data can be integrated with MES and ERP systems for a complete view of the inspection process. Statistical Process Control (SPC) capabilities can automate data collection in manufacturing or engineering operations.
Additional benefits of a quality management system with advanced inspection capabilities include the elimination of lost paperwork, validation of data entry against master records, and faster processing of inspection information. Inspections can be configured to conform to the standard procedures for each installation. An electronic history of past inspections with audit trail tracking improves accuracy.
Every inspection facilitated with a TIPQA Quality Management solution from TIP Technologies is carried out with the goal of simplifying the manufacturing process, improving accuracy, and exceeding regulatory and compliance requirements. With these objectives in mind, risk to the organization will be significantly reduced and overall quality will improve.
Contact TIP Technologies for help on improving your quality inspection process. Use of our TIPQA Quality Management Solution ensures product integrity prior to final delivery. See what the solution can do for your inspections by scheduling a demo today