Measuring quality through software

LNS Research has released its Enterprise Quality Management Software Selection Guide, which looks at 18 major vendors in the spaces and offers comparisons on performance and applicability to individual industries.

10/25/2012


Matthew Littlefield, president and principle analyst, LNS Research. Courtesy: LNS ResearchLNS Research has released its Enterprise Quality Management Software Selection Guide, which looks at 18 major vendors in the spaces and offers comparisons on performance and applicability to individual industries. Matthew Littlefield, president and principle analyst at LNS Research, discussed with CFE Media the value of measuring quality with software, and how the acceptance of such tools is growing throughout the plant. 

CFE: In evaluating the top vendors for Enterprise Quality Management Software, what criteria would you say is most critical for an effective system for end users? 

Littlefield: There are a number of factors that determine how well suited a particular vendor is for a particular client. First and foremost I think comes industry experience, some vendors have experience in life sciences, others have experience in discrete manufacturing like automotive or aerospace and defense, still others have started to develop experience in consumer products or food and beverage. The drivers and needs are very different in all these industries and very few vendors have expertise across all these industries.

Second I would say existing IT infrastructure, some companies are heavily invested in ERP, others have a large PLM footprint, still others have disparate systems at the enterprise level, again different vendors have different strengths in this regard. Finally I would recommend looking at the technology itself. Originally EQMS vendors were very form based, over time many have updated their technology to be work-flow based that has a more solid data model and ability to interoperate with other systems through web-services.

Finally, is the vendor continuing to invest in areas like BI, Mobility, and an enhanced user-experience. Some companies are and others are still behind the curve. 

PE: Why is software the best measuring tool for quality? What industries might benefit the most from such a system? Conversely, which industries are not a good fit for EQMS?

Littlefield: Software is an important tool for a number of reasons but I think one that stands out the most is our changing business environment. Companies are continuing to expand globally, products are continuing to increase in complexity, regulations continue to expand, and consumer demands continue to increase.

“For a quality culture to take hold it truly has to go to the operator level. Continuous improvement, non-conformance management, compliance, and more all have to be managed at the most granular level possible.”

Companies that don’t specifically invest in a platform to manage how quality impacts the entire value chain and how quality addresses all these market drivers will be at a distinct competitive disadvantage.

From an industry perspective, industries that have high risk products, high risk processes, a deep impact on consumers, or a restrictive regulatory environment are all candidates for EQMS, including life sciences, consumer products, discrete manufacturing, and process manufacturing. 

PE: You mentioned the education process is critical in a successful deployment of EQMS. How far into the organization does this training need to go? For example, will this get to the operator level?

Littlefield: For a quality culture to take hold it truly has to go to the operator level. Continuous improvement, non-conformance management, compliance, and more all have to be managed at the most granular level possible. We are now seeing some companies that have 10,000-plus users on EQMS systems. 

PE: What are the leading causes of failure for EQMS, or any operating system for that matter?

Littlefield: Very rarely is the technology to blame itself, although that could be the case with some vendors that have not kept based with investments in their products. Most likely that failure comes from executive leadership not promoting and believing in a quality culture. If executives do not walk the walk it can be very challenging to have the right culture and technology adoption flow through the organizations 

PE: What’s the potential ROI for a successful implementation?

Littlefield: ROI is tough to measure in the EQMS world and many companies don’t. Although there are two ways we are starting to see companies measure ROI. First is around the Cost of Quality and second is around risk reduction. Both are viable ways for measuring business success and companies that invest in EQMS can often see major improvements in these metrics, often providing an ROI in less than 1 year. 

PE: Why might this be a good time for manufacturers looking to upgrade their quality management process to take a look at EQMS?

Littlefield: We have seen companies be most successful with EQMS in two major ways. One if there is a major quality issue or compliance issue at your company, adopting software maybe a very prudent step for correction.

Second if your company is focused on a new (or improving an old) operational excellence initiative, EQMS can help in the success of these initiatives and building quality into operational excellence.



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
World-class manufacturing: A recipe for success: Finding the right mix for a salad dressing line; 2015 Salary Survey: Manufacturing slump dims enthusiasm
2015 Top Plant: Phoenix Contact, Middletown, Pa.; 2015 Best Practices: Automation, Electrical Safety, Electrical Systems, Pneumatics, Material Handling, Mechanical Systems
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Getting ready for industrial IoT; Visualizing the (applied) automation continuum; Preventing VFD faults and failures; Using wireless for closed-loop applications
Migrating industrial networks; Tracking HMI advances; Making the right automation changes
Understanding transfer switch operation; Coordinating protective devices; Analyzing NEC 2014 changes; Cooling data centers

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.