Quality Management System (QMS)
A QMS enables manufacturers to electronically monitor, manage and document their quality processes to help ensure that products are manufactured within tolerance and comply with all essential standards to avoid product defects.
Here are three examples of where digital adoption can help contribute to the QMS of a manufacturing company:
1. Improving business strategy
Manufacturing companies need guidance and support in terms of business strategy, technology identification, and technology adoption to be able to do this properly. Additionally, the current quality management systems that manufacturers use to run their businesses will need to continue to change to keep up with the ever-changing requirements from users and their customers.
One way of starting to look at what this means in practice is to take a look at the recent BSI publication PAS 1040 Digital readiness – Adopting digital technologies in manufacturing. This guide helps senior management within manufacturing companies to assess their digital readiness and understand the areas they need to develop in order to increase value from the adoption of digital technologies.
But that alone will not be enough to give companies sufficient knowledge to invest in these technologies with confidence. BSI is therefore putting together a training and consultancy offer that will enable the principles of PAS 1040 to be put into practice more directly.
2. Reducing the environmental footprint
Many manufacturing sectors have been pioneers in the use and development of Lean methodologies, with these contributing to greater efficiencies and labour productivity. For example, some of the UK’s best manufacturers, by being truly excellent in the implementation of Lean, are able to compete effectively on quality with companies from Germany and also to compete on cost with companies in the Far East. However, work by Professor Steve Evans from the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing highlighted the fact that non-labour resource costs are typically 4.5-5 times higher than labour resource costs for manufacturers. This suggests that there is now a great deal more potential business benefit and opportunity for manufacturers from managing their non-labour resource use better than they have from trying to squeeze more value out of their existing labour resources.
How can manufacturers realize these benefits from reducing their non-labour resource costs and thus reducing their environmental footprint? Digital technologies can give part of the solution simply by supplying better real-time data. For example, a factory with IoT sensors placed appropriately can deliver to the operators of the production process much better information about where and how they are using certain resources to enable better decisions about how to improve it. Additionally, a fully visible digitally connected collaboration networks can extend this view across an entire supply chain.
Another interesting opportunity is how the use of such digital technologies products with a significant lifetime can give rise to innovative new business models, such as through-life engineering services. With these service offerings, the manufacturer may no longer sell the product to a customer but instead guarantee its availability, taking on some of the risk and accepting the operating costs. When that happens, the onus is on the designer and manufacturer to create a product that has the highest level of resource efficiency to reduce their own costs. BSI has produced some guidance on such business models in the form of PAS 280.
3. Health and safety on the factory floor
Cobots, or collaborative robots, are robots designed to work amongst humans within a factory environment without the need to be walled off or separated from people. The advantages they bring is that they can do a lot of things that people either do not want to do, or do the same tasks better, without being consigned to a particular area or role. Thus their use can accelerate the continuous improvement of the QMS of a company
However, a barrier to their use is that it is not yet clear how a manufacturer can implement the use of a cobot in a way that does not pose risk to a worker on the factory floor. BSI has a number of standards that can help with this, such as ISO/TS 15066:2016. This specifies safety requirements for cobots and the work environment and supplements the requirements and guidance on collaborative industrial robot operation given in the main ISO robot safety standards. Additionally, BSI recently reviewed and published PD 5304 Guidance on safe use of machinery that gives guidance and advice to manufacturers looking to comply with the Machinery Directive.
Digital adoption, QMS, and BSI
The QMS of a manufacturing company is central to its present and future success, and digital technologies can play a critical role in enabling the continuous improvement of the business. These investments are not without risk and BSI can help companies on their journey to adopting them via a range of standards, training (ISO 14001; 1SO 9001; ISO 45001), and certification.