WHITE PAPER: 5 WAYS MOBILE QUALITY SOLUTIONS WORK TO BENEFIT INTERNATIONAL MANUFACTURERS November 27, 2020

Some would say it’s a small world out there, and it’s getting smaller every day. But if you manufacture goods or provide a service in the global market, you may have already learned this the hard way. Innovators and upstarts become established leaders in the time it used to take for one company to put out one part on one assembly line. How do growing companies like yours possibly keep up with a business environment perpetually racing at warp speed across the globe? A good way to start is by updating your own inner communication systems, and you have to make sure your systems are scalable.

Even if you’re an SME today, you may find yourself expanding globally tomorrow. All it takes is strategic thinking, bold action, and a little luck — namely, in the way of right systems in place for rigorous quality management, instantly available process audits, and absolutely dependable mobile functionality. Why is mobile functionality so important? Let’s take a look at the standards you and your organization now have to meet — no matter where you are in the world — and situations in which global companies are using mobile quality solutions in order to succeed.

Our old paper systems for record keeping and data storage are no longer viable as companies create long term sustainable growth.

SETTING A CONSISTENT GLOBAL STANDARD

The first and most obvious question about trading with international partners and producing for the international market is: How do we achieve consistency? What’s to guarantee that a factory in Shanghai adheres to the same standards as a factory in Seattle? The ISO 9000 international standards for quality management and assurance are one way of helping companies document the system elements that must be put in place to maintain an efficient quality system. ISO 9000 standards can be applied to any organization of any size, and are applicable to many industries. Breaking down the subcategories, ISO 9000 standards address familiar areas of concern for manufacturers everywhere:

ISO 9001:2015: Quality management systems – Requirements

ISO 9000:2015: Quality management systems – Fundamentals and Vocabulary

ISO 9004:2009: Quality management systems – Managing for Sustained Success/Improvement

ISO 19011:2011: Quality management systems – Guidelines for Auditing Management Systems

Whole books have been written on each of these subsets, but for this moment, let’s check out the ISO guidelines for quality management system requirements. According to the ISO’s Online Browsing Platform, ISO 9001:2015 “employs the process approach, which incorporates the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle and risk-based thinking.” And what’s risk-based thinking?

It “enables an organization to determine the factors that could cause its processes and its quality management system to deviate from the planned results, to put in place preventive controls to minimize negative effects and to make maximum use of opportunities as they arise.”

Bringing your company into compliance with this and other ISO guidelines starts with initiating a mobile audit system that can record and transmit real-time information. Nothing less will give you data reliable enough to determine risk factors and put in place preventive controls. Here are a few of the ways mobile auditing solutions keep your company ahead of the (global) competition:

  1. MOBILE SOLUTIONS: WHERE “RISK-BASED THINKING” MEETS “LAYERED PROCESS”

To anticipate problems before they arise, you need to audit during the production process, not after. Not long ago, that was impossible. Now, you can choose a Layered Process Auditing System. That means your auditors can take a tablet or smartphone into any of your facilities and send back all the information you need to assess your manufacturing process at every step. With instant photos, metrics, and informed comments, delivered in real time, you can exercise the PDCA cycle to maximum effect. The right mobile auditing software will put you ahead of the game and keep you there.

  1. MOBILE QUALITY CONTROL AUDITS ENABLE EXPANSION IN ASIA

The Singapore-based precision-engineering firm HISAKA is one example of an SME that has developed a reputation for “punching above its weight” over time, becoming a leading automated solutions provider across the Asia-Pacific region. In an interview, CEO Jackie Cheng said,

“In Asia, applying International Standards and quality management systems is an accepted prerequisite for most established businesses. The ability and willingness to conform to international quality criteria gives a business instant credibility and accountability, especially for SMEs.”

In order to reach compliance, HISAKA added rigorous documentation to their audit process. HISAKA’s auditing systems have grown with the company’s reach and profile in the region.

  1. REMOTE MOBILE AUDITS IN GARMENT FACTORIES: A FACT OF LIFE IN THE COVID ERA

Mobile quality solutions are essential in apparel factories worldwide as the industry struggles to come back online during COVID. A recent story in the online garment-industry blog Just-Style outlines how mobile auditing has helped to restore a measure of safety for workers.

“No remote solution can fully adequately replace an onsite visit,” comments Herve Ostrowski, COO of Hong Kong based supply chain compliance solutions provider QIMA. But “brands can resort to technology to maintain some control, implementing remote video inspections, worker surveys, and providing apps and tools to their suppliers for reporting.”

The story goes on to quote Justin Bettey, director of supply chain assurance at Intertek, a company that uses algorithms to indicate where risk performance, as well as efficiencies, can be improved.

  1. MOBILE QUALITY SOLUTIONS: PREVENTING SUPPLY CHAIN PROBLEMS

Supply chains have long since become multinational. They stretch across the globe. But sourcing from a foreign country can involve a number of risks. In the past, these might have included anything from inconsistent quality control to efforts to conceal inferior components or workmanship. Fortunately, mobile auditing software has made it much more difficult for errors to go unseen. The crucial element is time lapse. Today’s mobile audit software reads and reports data instantaneously. There is no place to hide inconsistencies. Onsite notes, remarks, photos and video are not transported back to a home office and then added to the record. Instead, the record is immediately complete, as is, before the inspection team ever leaves the facility. 

  1. MOBILE AUDIT TECHNOLOGY: UNIQUELY SUITED TO HELP MULTINATIONAL COMPANIES FOCUS ON SUSTAINED SUCCESS

From one location to operations in half a dozen countries, it is notoriously difficult to keep a consistent set of corporate goals in place. This is reflected in the ISO standard 9004:2009: Managing for Sustained Success: “The sustained success of an organization is the result of its ability to achieve and maintain its objectives in the long-term.” These objectives should include:

  • Meeting the needs and expectations of your customers
  • Effective management of your organization
  • Awareness of your organization’s environment
  • Learning and improving

The specific capacities of mobile audit software solutions are uniquely suited to help drive all these desirable goals, whether in a multinational corporation or a small to medium enterprise operating in the global marketplace. With an endless ability to customize and refine audits in order to meet evolving goals, mobile technology offers the flexibility to keep your auditors from becoming attached to goals that no longer match the needs of your customers. Mobile makes it easy to move with the moment.

All over the world, new power centers of manufacturing are moving toward compliance with international standards, and mobile quality solutions are powering that progress. In Latin America, Mexico is outpacing Brazil and Argentina. China is being underpriced by India. The business climate of Hong Kong is changing by the moment. All these regions, all these cultures, are experiencing the adventure of explosive growth. And in each one, mobile quality solutions are providing the essential tools for certification, regulation, self-assessment, and success.

For good advice on which one of Process Intel’s mobile auditing and quality software solutions might be right for you, feel free to contact us at info@processintel.com (auditsiq.com, processintel.com).