Every year, millions of dollars of products are wasted due to poor quality. A simple Internet search for "China quality" reveals a wide variety of quality spills that contribute to this bottom line dilemma. From simple consumer products such as toys, tools, clothing and pet food to industrial products that include castings, forgings, extrusions, and plastic and rubber components, inferior quality is a frequent and costly outcome for many businesses.
Unfortunately, identifying and verifying inferior quality—preferably in real time—is one of the biggest challenges that many companies face. It's not possible for all businesses to have boots on the ground in China, India, Vietnam and other similar locations, so it becomes difficult to periodically check the products and stop production when an issue arises. Then there's the issue of determining which items are being checked and verified. Are quality inspectors checking what's important to the customer? How do customers in Europe or North America know what the factory in China is producing? And how do they know that the products being produced meet the quality standards they desire? These are complex questions, and they bring to the forefront an issue that plagues businesses everywhere.
To better understand the problem, it helps to take a closer look at the issue. According to the American Society for Quality (ASQ), quality costs can be divided into four categories:
• Appraisal costs
• Internal failure costs
• External failure costs
• The cost of quality and organizational objectives
In a thriving company, these costs account for about 10 to 15 percent of operations. An effective quality improvement program can substantially reduce the problem, which in turn can increase margins and save customers money.
Like so many others, Hiten Shah, president and CEO of MES, Inc., realized the problem and its implications. For this reason, he developed the MESH-Quality® application at his company headquarters in Lewis Center, Ohio. The innovative application, which works on both iOS and Android systems, has been a game changer for MES and its customers.
Here's how it works: All MES engineers, regardless of their location, are required to use the app on their company phones. They simply log into the app whenever they visit a factory, office, warehouse or inspection site. The simple but powerful tool allows them to record pictures or videos of the parts and then annotate any problems or issues identified with the components. They input the quantity in question, along with a short comment (80 characters maximum) about the issue and what's being done to address it. On-site resolution might include quarantine for further inspection, sorting, reworking, re-inspection and verification, or a full quality reject and scrap.
The engineers are required to report on a daily basis and from every factory visit. Everything is categorized as either a "problem" or "for files," with the latter meaning that nothing needs to be addressed. However, when a problem is reported, the system generates an email to all members of the quality group in that country as well as the quality team members in Ohio and Mexico. Local teams review the problems during their daily huddles, followed by reviews among the Ohio team during their weekly Blitz calls.
Although the MESH-Quality® app was launched about 15 months ago, it was further fine tuned in the three months that followed. This included updating the admin panel, standardizing the data, ensuring the accuracy of APIs from other systems, and mandating usage among the global engineering team. The app continues to evolve and improve, making it possible to collect and report thousands of quality issues, which are then resolved. Corrective actions are noted to prevent future problems. A highly sophisticated tool, the app not only pulls all of the supplier information and other data from the ERP system, but it also links to the Central MESH® system, a comprehensive business portal where MES conducts and stores its key activities.
The overall objective of the MESH-Quality® app is to reduce costs associated with poor quality products by ensuring better quality upfront. These cost savings, which include everything from shipping and packaging to repair, recycling and travel, can then be passed on to the customer. Ultimately, the app helps to reduce millions of dollars lost to poorly manufactured goods.
This state-of-the-art app demonstrates Shah's ability to develop innovative solutions that positively impact MES and its customers. In addition to saving money, the app serves as a communications tool that makes it possible to resolve problems in real time. This is especially critical for a company such as MES, which has quality engineers in various global locations, such as China and India. The MESH-Quality® app, which Shah developed in-house, is being touted for its ability to increase communication and engagement, improve efficiency, and positively impact the bottom line of MES and its customers.
MES Global Quality App
• Report on APQP Status
• Report on Production Status
• Report on Quality Issues