3 Quality Challenges (and 1 Solution) in Heavy Industry Manufacturing

Chris Nahil
By Chris Nahil on May 14, 2024

All companies face challenges in achieving compliance, ensuring safety, and maintaining quality. However, due to the scale, complexity and potential environmental impact of operations in heavy industry, the stakes — and costs — are high. Lapses in quality can cause significant financial and reputational damage, including:

1.    Increased Rework and Scrap Costs

Poor-quality products in heavy industry often fail to meet the required standards or specifications set by governing bodies and standards organizations, leading to higher rework and scrap costs.

Products that don’t meet strict engineering tolerances require rework or scrapping, which increases costs associated with labor, materials, equipment, and disposal. Rework often involves repairing damaged components, adjusting dimensions, and reprocessing materials — all activities that take additional time and labor.

Dealing with poor-quality products and rework interrupts the production flow and can cause delays. When delays impact manufacturing schedules and delivery deadlines, costs rise, and customer satisfaction plummets.

2.    High Warranty and Recall Costs

The financial repercussions of product returns, recalls, and warranty claims can also be significant. When quality issues aren’t resolved before a product reaches the customer, it can lead to returns or warranty claims. Processing these returns or warranty claims involves various costs, including shipping, handling, restocking, replacement, refurbishment, and disposal.

A product recall involves even more expenses, including logistics and public relations costs and potential legal fees and fines for non-compliance.

3.    Impact on Brand Reputation

Any time poor quality impacts a customer’s experience with your brand, there are incalculable costs due to eroded customer trust and negative publicity. Trust is a critical component of brand reputation, and once it’s lost, rebuilding it can be challenging.

When customers encounter quality issues, they may become hesitant to purchase from that brand again. Additionally, they may share their negative experience with others, further amplifying the damage to the brand’s reputation. A history of poor quality and customer dissatisfaction undermines a brand’s credibility and can permanently affect its profitability and sustainability.

Strategic Quality Management Solutions for Heavy Industry

An automated quality management system (QMS) centralizes and streamlines quality efforts, enabling heavy industry companies to overcome their challenges and achieve favorable results, including:

Quality Enhancement and Cost Reduction

Through process standardization, root cause analysis, real-time monitoring, and supplier quality management, a QMS helps organizations minimize defects and errors, thus reducing scrap and improving overall quality. Less scrap means less spending on raw materials, decreased production downtime, lower rework costs, and reduced waste disposal expenses.

Prioritizing a proactive approach to quality management also protects brand integrity, as it prevents quality issues from reaching customers. With reduced costs and a bolstered reputation, heavy industry companies can maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace.

Automation of Manual Processes

Heavy industry companies rely on automation in manufacturing to boost efficiency, accuracy, and compliance. A modern eQMS brings automation to the quality management process, helping organizations streamline tasks, enhance data integrity, and adhere to regulations with less manual effort. Automation also reduces the risk of errors and ensures consistency, improving overall product quality and customer satisfaction.

By minimizing manual labor and improving quality through automation, organizations can realize cost savings, optimize operations and foster continuous improvement  in their manufacturing ecosystem.

Operational Improvements and Financial Gains

An advanced eQMS system contributes significantly to operational efficiencies in heavy industry through various mechanisms:

  • Streamlining processes
  • Enhancing data accuracy
  • Minimizing errors and reducing reliance on manual processes through automation
  • Ensuring compliance with regulations
  • Enabling prompt identification of quality issues, leading to reduced scrap rates and cycle times
  • Providing a centralized single source of truth for all quality activities

These operational improvements result in both reduced costs and financial gains. Scrap and rework costs can be high, so reducing scrap means reducing costs. Cycle time improvements, on the other hand, result in increased throughput and higher revenue generation.

Strategies for Quality Improvement in Heavy Industry

Quality improvement starts with fostering a culture of quality across the organization and focusing on continuous process refinement. Key levers for quality improvement in heavy industry include:

Reducing Scrap and Rework Through Enhanced Processes

Companies in heavy industry need robust and varied strategies for reducing scrap and rework, as those are critical cost factors in heavy industry. Strategies include:

  • Rigorous quality control measures at every stage of the production process
  • Regular inspections and audits to identify potential defects early on and prevent quality lapses
  • Investing in employing training to ensure proper handling and assembly techniques
  • Establishing clear quality standards and guidelines for suppliers
  • Implementing preventive maintenance programs to keep machinery and equipment in optimal condition

These various forms of process enhancement all serve to minimize the occurrence of defects, improve overall product quality, and reduce scrap and rework costs.

Accelerating Production Cycles via Process Optimization

In addition to reducing scrap and rework, organizations should also focus on finding ways to accelerate production cycles effectively:

  • Applying lean manufacturing principles to identify and eliminate non-value-added activities
  • Investing in automation technologies to streamline processes and reduce manual labor
  • Using real-time monitoring and data analytics to identify areas for improvement
  • Integrating advanced scheduling tools to minimize idle time and bottlenecks, which can lead to more predictable production timelines and reduced overhead costs

A QMS platform supports every single strategy for quality improvement in heavy industry by providing a centralized system for managing quality processes, tracking performance metrics, and facilitating continuous improvement initiatives.

Transforming Quality Management with ETQ Reliance

ETQ Reliance® plays a transformative role in enhancing quality management within heavy manufacturing companies. Its customizable design and variety of applications enable manufacturers to tailor quality management processes to their specific needs and challenges, leading to better products, enhanced profitability, and overall operational excellence.

To find out how ETQ Reliance can transform your organization’s quality efforts, speak to a quality expert.