A detailed explanation of the duties, responsibilities, and KPIs of the quality assurance team in a manufacturing facility.
Hello again 👋.
Welcome back to the Roles in Manufacturing series where I am giving you an introduction to the different job roles that exist in manufacturing companies.
In the previous parts of the series, I introduced you to the role of the operations team in a manufacturing company.
In this part of the series, we will learn what the quality team does in a manufacturing plant and what training or education is required to work as part of the quality team.
Before we move on, I would like to take a moment to introduce myself to anyone who might be new to the blog.
My name is Ken Bourke and I have worked as an automation professional for almost a decade. During this time, I have worked on large global projects in different industries around the world.
In the last year, I have started producing content online to share my knowledge through free blog posts and free or very reasonably priced courses.
If you get some value out of this post then consider checking out my courses, joining the mailing list using the form at the bottom of this page, or, if you’re feeling very generous, buying me a coffee using the Buy Me a Coffee widget on this page.
With that bit of shameless self-promotion out of the way, let’s get back to talking about the quality team in manufacturing facilities.
The Quality Assurance (QA) team is responsible for ensuring that every product that leaves the factory meets defined standards of quality.
You know as a consumer how frustrating it is to discover that something you have just bought is broken or not working.
The QA department is responsible for ensuring that products that leave the factory are working, that the product’s packaging is durable enough that the product won’t get damaged in transit, and for carrying out investigations when a bad-quality product is returned.
To ensure the quality of products, the QA department uses both manual and automated inspection stations. These stations are used to inspect products at various stages in the production process.
The quality department wants to detect defects as early in the process as possible. In many cases, catching a mistake in a component early in the process is less expensive than discovering a defect in the finished product.
To detect defects early, many factories use automated inspection systems.
For example, in electronics factories, circuit boards are placed in automated test stands to confirm that the board is working properly before the board is put into its housing. Because defects in the boards are detected before assembly is finished, there are less defective finished products produced.
In the video below, you can see an example of a semi-automated PCB inspection station that verifies a board is working correctly.
Since a factory’s reputation depends on the quality of the products that it produces, manufacturers typically place a high priority on quality and the quality department has a lot of authority in a factory
Since the quality department is responsible for the quality of finished products, it makes sense that their KPIs revolve around the number of defective parts that are produced at the factory. This rate is often measured in PPM which is “parts per million” and looks at how many products per million produced are defective.
A quality engineer may be responsible for the number of defective parts produced in a specific area of the factory while the quality manager may be responsible for the number of defective parts produced throughout the whole factory.
To improve on these KPIs, the quality department must be proactive which means that they are generally involved in continuous improvement projects and the design and testing of new equipment for a factory.
In this post, I introduced you to the quality assurance team in a manufacturing facility as part of my Roles in Manufacturing series.
I explained what the quality team does and what their KPIs are.
In the next part of the series, I’ll introduce you to the Environment, Health, and Safety (EH&S) team. These are the people who are responsible for the safety of everyone working at a factory.
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