Dr. W. Edwards Deming is the father of modern quality. Back in the 1930s, Deming began exploring the idea of using statistics to improve quality. He collected records of product defects and explored their causes to prevent future problems. His approach to quality was far ahead of its time and foretold a key aspect of Industry 4.0: the use of analytics to promote quality.

Deming eventually arrived at a 14-Point Philosophy of Quality. Point #3 reads:

“Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.”

We can simplify this point as “Stop depending on inspection.” Inspection comes too late in the manufacturing process to prevent defects. In other words, manufacturers need to be proactive about quality.

Manufacturers can follow Deming’s third point by adopting advanced product quality planning (APQP). APQP ends dependence on inspections by allowing manufacturers to avoid product nonconformances and prevent them from reaching the customer site. This proactive approach reduces the chance of a product recall that can deliver a devastating blow on company finances and reputation. 

Enough With the Inspections

Manufacturers are held to strict compliance regulations, so inspections are regularly taking place all along the assembly line. Managers must go down on the floor and shadow workers to detect any process irregularities as products are assembled.

However, these inspections can’t catch problems that are built into the design and assembly process. Problems with the business process may not be caught until a product hits the customer site.

Nonconformances in cars and medical devices can create huge liability for a manufacturer. The manufacturer must pay for all customer repairs necessitated by the recall. The company may also become involved in expensive litigation due to customer injury.

Recalled products may have posed a life-threatening risk to the consumer. The FDA has reported 16 medical device recalls in 2020 so far, some of which cause incorrect levels of medication, such as insulin, to be administered to patients.

Even if a nonconformance doesn’t result in a recall, the manufacturer must go through a process of documenting the problem and issuing a correction. Corrections take a long time to implement, and sometimes fall through the cracks.

APQP for Total Quality Management

Inspections are still part of APQP, but APQP does not rely on inspections to catch nonconformances. Instead, APQP allows manufacturers to implement total quality management (TQM).

With APQP, quality management becomes part of the entire product lifecycle, from design through to delivery. Many quality processes are automated and built into the design and production process.

APQP uses a template to manage the entire product development cycle. It also manages risk during the design and process phases of a new product to prevent product failures. By streamlining the production process and reducing risk, APQP empowers manufacturers to innovate and speed new products to market so the company can be competitive and profitable.

Why Deming Was Right

Deming understood that to be successful, manufacturers needed to get ahead of product failures. He used what we now call predictive analytics to understand the root causes of product defects, predict them, and prevent them.

APQP takes Deming’s Point #3 into the 21st century. APQP reduces manufacturers’ dependence on inspections by catching problems in the manufacturing process before they can affect the quality of the completed product. This ensures timely and successful new product introductions.

As Deming recommended, APQP makes quality a part of the process and stops manufacturers from being dependent on inspections to achieve success.

How to Get on the APQP Train

Taking a preventive approach to quality and ending dependence on inspections is achievable with APQP. QAD CEBOS can help your manufacturing business adopt APQP and follow Deming’s principles.

We provide quality management solutions and services for companies in a range of industries, including automotive, medical device, and industrial manufacturing. We can assess your quality management processes, consult with your company about its needs, and assist in implementation of quality management solutions, such as APQP, so your company can be more competitive, profitable, and innovative.

Find out more about using APQP in your business. Watch the QAD CEBOS Webinar “How to Implement APQP Right: the Process & the Benefits.”