How to Solve Quality Issues

Consumer’s expectations of quality have risen over the years in the fabrication and construction industry. In the curved steel industry especially for OEM products we rely heavily on inspection and contractor certification to ensure product quality. Inspection looks at the end product, while certification evaluates the processes and procedures used to manufacture the product. Inspection is often referred to as quality control. Quality control came about when mass production manufacturers produced thousands of parts and each part was expected to be identical and finding the ones that didn’t meet product specs was black and white. Contractor certification is a quality assurance or total quality approach to controlling errors and non-conformance parts. Quality assurance is the prevention of quality problems through planned and systematic activities including documentation.

Most steel benders and rollers have a simple quality program that meet the requirements of each customer through their work order procedures that are controlled documents created on per order basis. The shop has standard measuring procedures for checking quality. When a quality issue or nonconforming product arises the bender/roller will record everything in a corrective actions report or CAR. Corrective action is the measure taken to identify and eliminate the source or root cause of a nonconformance to prevent its recurrence. A CAR should have a description of the problem, containment action (what immediate action must be taken to make sure the problem doesn’t happen again), root cause analysis (what are the most likely causes of the problem), preventive action taken (what steps must be taken to make sure it does not happen again), and person responsible for following up with the solution.

Let’s face it, people will make mistakes. Corrective action should not be seen as a disciplinary process, and it should not be allowed to evolve into that. It will become counter-productive and make the process seem personal. It will appear as if the intention is to point fingers and assign blame, rather than to identify and eliminate the sources of nonconforming parts. It is about the process and not about the people. The main goal is to provide your customers with the best quality, service, delivery and value. This is achieved by the understanding of customer’s needs and continual improvement in every area of the company through the introduction and use of new technology, and through the education and training of its employees. The corrective action process is a powerful tool that will not only help improve the quality of your products and processes, but also increase efficiency and productivity. If implemented properly you will see greater customer satisfaction, repeat business, and lower cost.


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