Why quality management makes for better processes post–Covid
4 Oct 2021
Quality and consistency have always been benchmarks of good business in manufacturing and engineering, but after the turmoil brought by Covid-19 they have become even more crucial, emphasises Claire Price of QMS International
Covid-19 brought widespread disruption – and the manufacturing and engineering sectors were not immune.
Many businesses within these sectors had to temporarily down tools; at the height of lockdown, the Engineering Insights Dashboard from Engineering UK revealed nearly a quarter of engineering businesses paused their work.
This means that many businesses have faced, or are now facing, the reality of re-starting production on machinery that has been out of use with workforces that may still be limited due to ongoing social distancing.
Supply chains have also been badly damaged. This means that many businesses are having to establish new supply chains, which are inevitably struggling with demand. This has resulted in higher prices and longer delivery times.
A backlog of work means contractors are stretched thin and projects are suffering with ongoing delays.
These issues are being compounded by a recent uplift in activity.
With supply chains under pressure, the cost of materials rising, ongoing Covid restrictions in the workplace and a desperate need for more trained staff, ensuring that quality and consistency is maintained is even more important – and even more difficult.
To combat these issues, manufacturers and engineering companies need the appropriate processes in place to ensure they get it right first time, every time.
One way of ensuring that quality is maintained throughout the business, in every operation, is by implementing a quality management system such as ISO 9001.
Quality management systems create a robust framework of processes for leadership, planning, support, operation, and monitoring and improvement to maintain and develop quality and customer satisfaction.
This helps businesses to reduce errors, improve customer retention, increase efficiency for lower costs, improve supplier relations, create a more factual approach to decision-making and boost employee morale
By implementing a renowned quality management system such as ISO 9001, business can also improve the reputation of the company.
The system can also help to keep staff safe in a Covid-secure workplace. One of ISO 9001’s requirements focuses on the environment for operations. This means you need to have the right processes in place to keep staff safe and productive.
Risks and opportunities
Quality management systems develop risk-based thinking, which can help businesses to cope with uncertainty.
ISO 9001’s 'plan, do, check, act' cycle can help manufacturers and engineering businesses to identify risks, develop strategies to deal with them, monitor and evaluate the results, and create improvements for even stronger performance.
QMS can also highlight new opportunities and give manufacturers and engineering companies added clout when it comes to exploring new business in the post-pandemic world.
During the pandemic, Efinity Labs recognised the importance of implementing best practice processes to produce quality products and enter the new market of alcohol sanitiser and implemented ISO 9001.
By doing this, they have gained traction in other previously unexplored markets, such as the cosmetics sector. “The ISO is very much working in our favour at the moment,” reported Efinity Labs’ operations director. “All the new markets we are looking at will ensure that we will be busy.” Indeed, the company estimates that their new business will increase their turnover by three or four-fold.
Claire Price is marketing executive for QMS International