In a previous article, we saw what the quality methods and tools for problem-solving were. Identifying the root causes of non-quality is crucial in order to put in place an appropriate action plan that eliminates the recurrence of failures, reduces treatment costs and improves customer satisfaction. However, the best investigative approach is only useful if the company has previously deployed an effective system for reporting these events. This issue of transmitting information is fundamental: without it, we would be confining ourselves to curative actions rather than encouraging a process of continuous improvement.
There are many and varied non-quality issues within a company: a crack in an industrial hazardous materials facility is one, a puddle in a hallway is another. What distinguishes them is first of all their criticality, i.e. the product of their probability of occurrence and their severity if they occur. The crack is much more serious than the puddle but less likely. This is usually represented in the form of a risk matrix, as in the minimalist example below. Depending on the size of an organization, sophisticated risk assessment tools may be required. Their processing then depends on this prioritization. In our example, the crack would be a proven non-compliance, which might require an 8D investigation, while the puddle would be a simple non-quality, which would probably only qualify for a small PDCA.
To ensure total quality, it is important that the event reporting system can cover this diversity.
That an event is not critical does not mean that we can afford to ignore it: it has a cost, a real impact, and if left untreated, it can lead to much more serious events. If the water leak is not repaired, the bill is only salty until the puddle reaches an electrical cabinet.
The main types of events that a quality department must cover are non-quality, non-conformities, and more precisely technical facts about a product or a process, but also customer complaints, deviation sheets following an audit, or even requests for improvement. In order not to miss any of them, their declaration must be intuitive, possible everywhere, all the time, by everyone. To do this, a portal can be integrated into the software suite used daily by all businesses, or ideally a mobile application that works offline and allows you to take pictures, so you don’t have to spend too much time describing the problem.
All these events must then be centralized in a single repository to guarantee their traceability and facilitate their processing, and the people responsible for their analysis can be automatically notified of a new declaration.
This repository can also be connected to the enterprise ERP to retrieve non-conformities declared in production, but also to describe events more precisely by associating them with a serial number or a supplier. To go even further, you can connect to a defect library, or to a PLM to map problems within product BOMs.
Finally, event management requires good indicators. For example, it is often found that about 80% of the effects are the product of 20% of the causes, which can be identified by a Pareto chart. Events can also be represented over time, by place or service, always with the aim of identifying their root causes. As part of a continuous improvement process, this also makes it possible to find the centres that report the most events in order to draw good practices and lessons learned and those that report the least in order to help them participate in the total quality effort.
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