Quality Assurance (QA, also called quality control or QC) is defined as “the operational techniques and activities that sustain the product or service quality to specified requirements” (from the Logistics Operational Guide) and it’s one of the most essential components of a warehouse’s efficiency strategy.
Regardless of what business you’re in, investing in quality far outweighs the cost of mistakes upon your business. For warehousing, that investment can take on many forms:
- inspecting inbound receipt of goods
- verifying outbound sales orders
- quality inspections on material handling or physical plant equipment
- inspecting the condition of trailers arriving at your dock doors
- validating the specifications on specialized inventory
Yet, while most operational areas of manufacturing have automated in leaps and bounds, QA is still often a manual process. A strong QA and inspection solution can avoid product loss, rejects, charge-backs or recalls. It will not only save money (otherwise spent on transportation and wasted materials) but strengthen your brand’s reputation.
In this article, we have enlisted the main flaws with manual quality assurance processes as well as the key advantages automation can bring your business.
Visibility and Decision Making
Visibility is crucial to understanding, identifying, changing and executing many aspects of a business. Access to information must keep up with the rapid pace that today’s cyber economy drives your business. Moreover, it must be available where and when needed to inform sound decision-making.
With the manual QA approach, the information collected by someone working with paper and a clipboard will – maybe – eventually find its way into a shared file system or database. However, this data won’t be immediately visible to other parts of the business. By the time data is available to key decision-makers, it could have become outdated and irrelevant.
Moreover, manually recorded data is subject to human error and reliant on the accuracy of the author. Even minor error rates could mean a significant waste and loss for a business.
On the other hand, with a Warehouse Management System (WMS) the entire business will have ready access to large amounts of real-time data for monitoring and managing QA. Gaining this insight allows you to make sound strategic decisions, armed with knowledge that your competitors wish they had about their operations.
Unfortunately, for many businesses, quality control is often overlooked, resulting to returns, damaged products, losses, and customer dissatisfaction. Moreover, QA decreases dramatically when delivery speed is the focus as some warehouse managers feel quality control slows operations, so they completely bypass it.
Quality control plays a big role in ensuring that a company’s operations are not crippled by problems in the quality of the products. Although checklists, worksheets and control sheets are helpful tools, an automated QA system allows your company to deal with internal audits, compliance, and regulatory requirements with a systematic approach and full audit log.
By allowing the WMS to select which items to inspect based upon your predetermined business rules, you ensure that all inspection criteria are met before receiving or shipping products. When certain business conditions are met to trigger an inspection, the system automatically schedules it and can flag a hold status on orders, if necessary.
You can rely upon the system to (1) choose what to inspect, (2) the inspection criteria, and (3) allow it to evaluate the results to determine the next step in the process, minimizing the need for dedicated inspectors. This gives you tremendous flexibility to grow and shrink your workforce to accommodate the changing needs within your business.
Processing returns contributes nothing to the bottom line. If it’s a time-consuming manual process, it becomes even more costly. Moreover, you don’t want the returns process to become a bottleneck in your receiving dock.
A WMS solution allows you to fine tune where, in the overall workflow, you want to examine goods and make decisions as to its disposition: get the product out of the receiving area and begin the returns inspection process or make it a part of the receiving workflow at your discretion.
Additionally, a well-defined automated returns inspection can identify the product by visually verifying against a picture, asking the right questions to determine the disposition, and defining a workflow to either scrap the product or refurbish it for future sale.
Delivering steady quality control helps your business with building a strong competitive advantage. Having a WMS in place ensures the quality of your throughput is consistently checked.
With the HighJump platform, iWMS Australasia can offer your business a tailored, configurable and scalable solution that will meet your exact business needs today and for years to come. Contact us today to discuss your business requirements.
Click here to read the full HighJump WMS Quality Assurance and Inspection Solution brochure.