In addition to product and service differentiation, product quality can also have a significant impact on your sales and revenue. In doing so, realize that product quality does not arise solely as the degree to which specific requirements, regulations, standards or approval conditions are met. That can be expected by default. What is effective is the ease of use perceived by users, the haptics, the visual design and the choice of materials, but also the service-friendliness – and the associations associated with the product. So product quality can definitely be shaped by designers and marketing.
A restriction to formal requirements is too short-sighted: An appropriate internal quality standard will increase both production effectiveness and profitability. A sensitive increase in production quality makes processes more controllable. As a result, production downtime, scrap, inspection costs, reworking, and internal and external complaints can be reduced or even avoided. Beyond a purely financial consideration, quiet and trouble-free production has a direct impact on the working atmosphere, on the motivation of the employees and finally also on the sickness and accident rate.
Example 1: A manufacturer of plastic pipes for the construction industry reacted to the extreme price pressure caused by overcapacities by, among other things, reducing the product features and, of its own accord, produced “in line with requirements”, i.e. the minimum requirements applicable from underlying regulations, standards and approvals were complied with, all features above these lower quality limits and in addition to the standard requirements were removed from the product. This initially resulted in significant savings in material and production costs. Supposedly, all waste had been eliminated. W. Edwards Deming would certainly have been pleased.
However, specialist wholesalers subsequently increasingly rejected the new designs because their customers, the end users, now feared a lack of robustness in the tubes compared with alternative products. As a result, the manufacturer suffered a drastic loss of image, in other areas as well.
In addition, the internally ordered consistent orientation to the minimum of the set requirements meant that the possibility of regulating and controlling the production process was gone. The extrusion lines, which can be up to 40 meters long, react extremely sluggishly to adjustments and other interventions. As a result, even small variations turned large quantities of end products into rejects. As a result, production costs rose due to the increase in rejects, reworking or the discarding of products. Deming would not have been happy about this.
Increasing productivity requires consistent quality planning, which starts with the selection of machinery, materials and appropriate personnel after an initial, acceptable product design. Closely involve technical purchasing to obtain both the appropriate machines and tools as well as the suitable raw materials and materials for trouble-free production of products that meet requirements. The optimum will always be a well-coordinated compromise of various requirements.
Plan holistically: The actual production process, also in coordination with work preparation, production planning and the sales team’s forecast, must already be planned and designed in such detail that unnecessary, additional set-up times can be avoided even before the start of actual production and downtimes and work caused by a product or material change can be kept to a minimum. This holistic planning also includes ensuring product removal, packaging and transport of the packaging units to a suitable warehouse. Levers are the design of the processes and the capability of both agile working and change management.
Example 2: At a manufacturer of plastic pipes, high-priced special pipes were individually shrink-wrapped and packed in cartons for a dealer customer. These units were moved to a largely open hall and stacked there. Over the course of weeks of seasonal storage, different weather conditions occurred and the unprotected cardboard packaging became damp and unstable. The defective packaging led to very costly customer complaints that had to be processed. As a result of the product quality planning ending too early, the company suffered serious image losses in addition to the financial losses.