Quality 4.0 is the digital transformation of quality management and the alignment of software and digital processes with the capabilities of Industry 4.0.
*Scott Philbrook, Managing Director of RS Australia and New Zealand discusses its elements, implementation, and outcomes in the AU/NZ manufacturing environments:
The manufacturing sector has embraced the digitisation and connectivity of Industry 4.0. Smart, connected technologies have revolutionised all aspects of our manufacturing processes. The ongoing evolution of Industry 4.0 technology, integration, and digitalisation has seen quality management become even more vital to manufacturers; the merging of new technologies and capabilities married to traditional quality management has seen the emergence of Quality 4.0.
This is about readying manufacturers for the future by equipping them with connected, advanced, purpose built tools. Companies that invest shrewdly in Quality 4.0 will not only see increases in operational efficiency, but they will also benefit from maintaining a quality driven culture and increased customer satisfaction.
Quality 4.0 does not replace traditional quality management principles: it instead enhances them to partner with the Industry 4.0 manufacturing environment. There are elements that support Quality 4.0; they include the ability to effectively collect multiple sources of data promptly so decisions can be made in an agile manufacturing environment as data has always underpinned improvements in quality management. This is supported by connectivity between engineering, manufacturing, and quality teams – and the application of machine intelligence for data analysis.
Implementation and enhancements of Quality 4.0 requires systems including artificial intelligence and machine learning, blockchain, cloud technology, connected and edge devices, and big data that replaces paper based methods: thus allowing collaboration between all shareholders throughout the manufacturing process. However, Quality 4.0 is not just software: it requires engagement from the top management down, and processes created by those who use the system.
To successfully implement Quality 4.0 a few factors need consideration prior to investment. Identifying areas where Quality 4.0 technology will have the biggest impact, whilst setting expectations is an intuitive way to chart a direction to success. Also, identifying what core competencies of Quality 4.0 that are most relevant to the company’s needs will mitigate against unnecessary expenditure. Ensuring that Quality 4.0 aligns with the company’s broader digital transformation strategy is also essential.
Quality 4.0 is more than an Industry 4.0 quality management ideology. It is about manufacturers being prepared for the digital future through equipping themselves with advanced, connected tools that enhance quality processes and allow for agile decision making from all stakeholders within the company.
*Scott Philbrook is an expert in digital transformation in manufacturing.