Tag Archives: Quality


The manufacturing industry is one of the most important sectors across the world. It’s instrumental in supporting a thriving economy, provides jobs to communities, and sparks innovations that improve lives. Nevertheless, it is also a sector that faces significant challenges.

The good news is that the rise of our digital landscape offers a range of supportive solutions. Over the last couple of decades, developers have committed to creating tools that help make the manufacturing industry more agile and impactful. These applications aren’t limited to improving productivity. Rather, the tools available right now are continuing to change manufacturing in profound and innovative ways.

Let’s take a closer look at how software and modern tech are changing manufacturing.

Managing Resources

In manufacturing, as with most sectors, resources are finite and valuable. As such, it is vital to maintain control of what you have at your disposal. Effective resource management practices enable your company to allocate the best assets to address the most appropriate challenges. This may surround effective budget application, matching tech to tasks, and appointing time to activities. It’s worth noting that there is software and hardware in the industry at the moment that helps to make resource management more practical.

A key aspect of any good resource management strategy is data analytics. This helps you to make more informed choices about asset allocation and performance. Devices in the industrial internet of things (IIoT) are equipped with sensors that scan items at crucial points throughout the production, warehousing, and shipping stages. Paired with data analytics software, these tools can provide real-time information about how resources are being utilized, where areas of wastage occur, and how to enact improvements.

Another important consideration for how tech can help resource management is found in inventory control. Many manufacturing businesses struggle with getting the right balance of supply to meet changing demands. Artificial intelligence (AI) inventory management software can review data on your resources alongside that of the market. It can then produce forecasts you can utilize to better plan production changes.

Boosting Quality

Quality is key to a thriving manufacturing business. Unless your products consistently meet high consumer and industry expectations, you’re likely to experience reductions in engagement. Not to mention that faulty or substandard products are likely to be frequently returned. In either case, the result is likely to be a significant hit to your financial stability. It is, therefore, vital to adopt technology that helps you to boost quality standards.

It’s important to first recognize that many of the quality issues faced by manufacturers are the result of employee mistakes. Your business can mitigate drops in quality while bolstering safety and security by harnessing technological tools that reduce human error. One of the key resources you can utilize here is automated intelligent manufacturing processes. These largely remove the human element from unnecessary and repetitive tasks. It’s also vital that employees receive effective training on how to use these tools and systems so they can interact with them in a less risky manner.

You should also consider the potential of upgraded software and hardware for quality control procedures. Automated tools in the IIoT can be attached to production equipment and monitor the condition of each item. The software can be set to identify breaches in quality parameters and immediately notify workers when these occur. This empowers your company to address quality issues immediately, preventing widespread issues.

Securing Jobs

One of the common topics of discussion surrounding technology is the effect it can have on jobs, especially when it comes to which jobs will and won’t be replaced by AI. AI is among the tools often cited as instrumental in replacing all but trade roles in highly-skilled areas. The emotional connections made by healthcare workers and the dexterity of electricians are among the characteristics that shield them from unemployment throughout a digital transformation. While manufacturing employees aren’t usually considered to fall within these groups, modern tech can in some ways help to make their jobs more secure.

This is usually from the perspective of how technology helps to transform roles. Automated manufacturing, devices in the IIoT, and data analytics software can all be used to handle many formerly manual tasks. Nevertheless, rather than replacing human workers, these tools need collaborators. Tech-savvy manufacturing employees are in significant demand in the industry to utilize solutions more effectively and attend to software or hardware maintenance issues. This means that employees committed to upskilling can improve their career prospects, bolster their job stability, and impact their earning power.

Another way in which software and modern tech are improving manufacturing job stability is through the use of applicant tracking systems (ATS). This human resources (HR) software enables your company to more efficiently and accurately identify the most suitable candidates for a position. It also helps to assess candidate data so you can tailor the most appropriate training programs upon hiring to fill any skills gaps. This helps ensure workers have the best chance of gaining jobs that reflect their abilities and to progress through the business. It also means your business can spend less on hiring and training candidates that are later discovered to be unsuitable.

Enhancing Safety and Security

One of the most important responsibilities of any business is to reduce risks for staff and stakeholders. Manufacturing, in particular, is rife with potential hazards. Employees are often exposed to dangers to their physical and mental health. The business, investors, and consumers can also face risks from increased cybersecurity threats aimed at the manufacturing sector. Software and technology have an important role to play in providing protection.

Firstly, in particularly hazardous fields, virtual reality (VR) can help introduce new workers to realistic training scenarios. This provides employees with the skills they need to reduce risks without exposing them to unnecessary hazards early on in their training. Alongside this, devices in the IIoT can monitor conditions and activities in real-time, providing both workers and supervisors with data on present dangers to should respond to.

From the perspective of cybersecurity, it’s vital to recognize that the greater adoption of technology in the industry exposes businesses to potential risks. Each device can potentially act as a gateway for criminals into the company’s networks. As such, AI-driven cybersecurity platforms are being used to scan and monitor information passing through all systems. Machine learning protocols can also analyze data to make predictions about potential risk areas that need to be addressed.


Software and modern tech is improving manufacturing processes in a variety of ways. Devices in the IIoT are instrumental in improving quality and providing data for better resource management. The presence of AI software drives a need for more tech-savvy workers while also ensuring the most appropriate professionals rise to the top. VR and machine learning are also ensuring employees stay safe and protecting stakeholders from cybersecurity breaches. As more tools continue to be developed, it is likely that the manufacturing industry will continue to become more agile and innovative.

*This article is written by Ainsley Lawrence. View more of Ainsley’s articles here.

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Pharmaceutical manufacturers can magnify operational efficiency by taking a closer look at on-site quality control processes.

Pharmaceutical manufacturing is all about innovation. The businesses within the industry work diligently to produce effective and accessible medications, as well as medical equipment for patients struggling with illnesses or discomfort. In this way, pharmaceuticals stand apart from other fields of manufacturing. Pharmaceutical can be ingested by customers or, as is the case with hypodermic needles or dialysis machines, connect invasively. As such, raw materials and finished products must be meticulously tested for quality to ensure patients receive healthy treatment doses, and drug manufacturers don’t accidentally introduce microbial pathogens into a patient’s already compromised immune system.

In finding new ways to increase operational efficiency in quality control testing labs for pharmaceutical manufacturers, the industry can enjoy advantages other industries do not – namely, the enhanced ability to save lives. However, these changes must be integrated carefully. Quality control professionals cannot make concessions on rigorously regulated testing assays. That said, finding methods for augmenting how the quality control process is performed – as opposed to the process itself – can yield powerful results in how pharmaceutical manufacturers retain valuable resources and expedite lead times, while still adhering to current good manufacturing practices (cGMP).

“Top performers in pharma had higher success rates with their medications.”

Understanding the value of communication
Before discussing a couple of efficiency measures the pharmaceutical industry could adopt to optimize performance in its clean rooms and testing labs, it is important to first touch on the true value of doing so. Drug companies take an incredible amount of time researching, testing, and producing their wares. A 2014 industry report from the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations stated the time span between the start and end of a drug or vaccines research and development stages could be as much as 10 to 15 years per product. Even though these businesses want to develop as many treatment options as possible to generate a profit and help a widespread audience, they must adhere to all quality control standards, which can legitimately impact the rate of medical innovation.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers with similar time-efficiency issues could benefit from heightened attention to how the communicate inter-departmentally, or rather, how often these department communicate.  Customer demand informs manufacturers on how they should produce and what they should be producing to meet the needs of consumers. As a business within the pharmaceutical industry accelerates its production cycles or scales its market share, data inherently becomes more granular and, indirectly, more volatile if left unchecked. While drug companies toy with the idea of addressing deficiencies in their quality control labs, they should first structure how these departments communicate, especially the frequency with which QC professionals sit down for meetings with other department heads. Weekly conversations, even informal ones, can keep everyone – including the laboratory – abreast of major production crunches or fluctuations in volume that could impact testing. For instance, if an executive announces the future construction of a new clean room in which manufacturing workers can develop treatments, this ultimately means the quality control lab will have an extra area to monitor regularly.

quality controlHow can manual testing methods receive a performance boost with help from rapid microbiology?

Reducing costs through rapid microbiological methods
Cost reduction in pharmaceutical manufacturing does more than save businesses money – the action can have untold effects on U.S. healthcare. A study published in the Journal of Therapeutic Innovation and Regulatory Science revealed if drug companies decreased manufacturing costs by 30 percent, they could yield anywhere between $1 trillion and $12.3 trillion in social benefits to patients and medical science alike.

“Rapid microbiological equipment automates low-value laboratory labor.”

quality control testing is both a cost- and resource-intensive operation, principally so long as manual, growth-based assay remain the norm. However, the burgeoning field of rapid microbiology has been changing the ways quality control professionals function in a laboratory setting. As the name suggests, rapid microbiology seeks to increase the speed and efficacy with which quality control lab technicians perform their daily duties without altering time-tested compendial culture counting techniques. Additionally, rapid microbiological equipment automates certain low-value laboratory labor to free up technicians and centralize these processes into a single location.

To put rapid microbiological methods (RMM) into context, let’s focus on one specific laboratory activity: moving samples between incubators. Traditionally, lab workers would need to manually move the plates one by one at a predetermined time. Automated equipment could be programmed to execute this task with computer precision without much more than informal oversight.

According to a case study performed by Microbiology Consultants, LLC, a company that expended more than $5.2 million in conventional testing costs saw a nearly 90 percent reduction in operating costs the first year it switched to RMM. It is worth noting a significant portion of this reduction came from negating consumables and disposal costs entirely from the quality control process, thanks to innovative new approaches to sample preparation. Beyond the potential for return on investment (ROI), rapid microbial testing technology and strategies could insure against wasting valuable human capital, protect against contamination, and ultimately, shorten time to release while reinforcing quality control-related cGMP.

Integrating cost and resource efficiency into a pharmaceutical provider’s quality control model will require an unquestionable balance between eliminating waste and upholding best practices for the sake of its patients. Businesses who develop and integrate strong strategies for how to walk that line will benefit greatly.

The way that small manufacturers operate holds valuable lessons for the industry as a whole. Armed with quick and flexible production schedules, as well as strong quality control standards, small manufacturers are able to compete with larger companies in a sophisticated market. While small manufacturers don’t produce the same type or quantity of products as their larger peers, the way that they operate is indicative of a tight and efficient management style that adheres to the lean manufacturing philosophy. These niche facilities are able to steer clear of common problems such as overproduction, over-processing and product defects.

Small manufacturers make big moves
In the U.S., the manufacturing industry has evolved through many iterations. Today, according to Manufacturing Global, there is a growing number of small manufacturers, indicating that the outsourcing trend may be reversing slightly. In 2015, there were more than 270,000 small manufacturers across the country. Many of these facilities have less than 50 employees, however, these companies are also responsible for 60 percent of U.S. exports. Contributing approximately 12 percent to U.S. Gross Domestic Product, it is clear that these entities are doing something right.

Small manufacturers adhere to slightly different management philosophies than larger companies when it comes to production. These facilities are able to achieve product customization by maintaining fast and agile production schedules. Employing the same methods that a larger facility would for achieving more efficient changeovers, smaller manufacturers understand that planning and scheduling make a big difference on output and the bottom line. Manufacturing Global pointed out that small manufacturers keep production costs low by following made-to-order production plans. The benefits of this approach include lower inventory levels, no overstock situations, and quality production. Inherent in this type of operation is a strict adherence to following procedures and doing things by the book – something that sometimes larger facilities let slip.

It is important to point out that supply chain costs increase substantially when companies either do not follow standard operating procedures or do not have the best processes in place. Product defects, idle time, and bottlenecks can occur when standards are loose, and these situations are best avoided through careful planning and execution. Small manufacturers are able to avoid common manufacturing pitfalls because production is based on continuously meeting sales goals. Additionally, small manufacturers emphasize the necessity for rigorous quality control standards, which leads to fewer manufacturing defects.


more careful and diligent management style
According to IndustryWeek, the manufacturing industry is going through a business transformation. In response to shifting consumer expectations, global competition, and advances in technology, facilities are accelerating their production cycles to meet market demand. Similarly to small manufacturers, larger facilities must now exert greater control over the supply chain and adjust business models to meet customer expectations and keep the bottom line healthy.

When it comes to flexible production styles, quality control is key. Accordingly, if you want to make sure your organization is committed to quality, focus on these 3 points:

  1. Make quality a part of your culture
    Strong leadership is essential for achieving a culture of quality. Management cannot just give directions to plant staff, they must make quality management education a regular item on the agenda. Today, at many organizations, executives think of quality as a department, not a company wide priority. Since the majority of facility employees do not work in the quality department, the responsibility of fostering a culture of quality falls initially upon the executive management team. When each person in a facility acts like a stakeholder in the production process, defects and deficiencies are significantly reduced.
  2. Align your KPIs inline with your end goals
    At your facility, you should be able to monitor the success of any process at any point in time. Without effective organizational metrics, executives will not be able to track progress, set goals, or achieve results. Whether measuring costs, quality, or equipment effectiveness, having KPIs in the right places is paramount.
  3. Unite disparate systems
    Quite commonly, facilities manage disparate systems – likely as a result of sporadic technology investment throughout the years. The best way to address a lack of uniformity in plant equipment is to make sure you have an effective management operating system. With one central resource standardizing processes and reports across departments, you will be able to operate in a more streamlined manner. Using the right system, manufacturers are able to manage fractured manufacturing operations, mitigate nonconformances, and take corrective and preventative actions when necessary.

What makes small manufacturers able to accurately meet their budgeting goals is avoiding costly production mistakes. Larger facility operators should follow this example and make quality an integral part of processes, culture, training, and management.