Customers deserve high-quality products from their favorite companies and businesses. Fortunately, in the age of technology, there’s no shortage of excellent software that can help to streamline your workflows. There are products designed to make complex tasks like accounting, auditing inventory or organizing files simple. Believe it or not, there’s even software that helps you make top-notch products all the time. This may sound like a bedtime story you tell your children or a precious treasure only Indiana Jones could excavate. But rest assured, it exists. It’s called enterprise quality management software (EQMS), a manufacturing software that ensures you always meet your top-tier product requirements.
What is EQMS? And Why You Need One
EQMS is a solution that supervises product and business procedures to ensure they’re consistently meeting quality and compliance regulations throughout your production and supply chain methods.
Right now, you might be thinking: “My business is doing just fine without an EQMS. Are you sure I really need it?” The short answer is yes. According to a recent study, 55% of respondents who don’t own an EQMS said their quality metrics aren’t properly measured. Forty-seven percent of respondents in the same survey said their businesses suffer from excessive data sources and systems to properly check quality.
If you’re not within any of those percentiles, your business or facility could face other underlying problems such as a lack of viewing immediate metrics, a disconnected IT structure or problems spotting non-conformances in your facility. In a nutshell, an EQMS can solve these and other issues. There are various types of manufacturing operations that EQMS software can serve. One of these is closed-loop manufacturing.
Closed-loop EQMS software, or any other form of quality management software, is the practice of verifying that quality protocols are sent throughout every area of a company from internal departments to worksites throughout the globe so everyone is on the same page when it comes to ensuring products are high-quality and compliance-friendly. Closed-loop manufacturing also refers to enterprises reusing materials to make new products to save the use of natural resources and diminish landfill waste.
Key Advantages and Goals of an EQMS
Before you can learn about the key features of an EQMS, you must first learn about the advantages and goals this software can accomplish for your business.
An EQMS that’s a cinch to learn is important. If your system is old or too complex, your employees may need more time to learn it. Also, if your team isn’t tech-savvy, an up-to-date or more complex software may harm your productivity and profitability. A system with easy-to-use features such as software integration, report filing and analyzing key metrics is critical to the success of your business.
Adapts with Your Business
As your company grows or depletes, you need an EQMS that can adapt to these changes. An adjustable EQMS should:
- Track and store enormous files and documents
- Be able to add and delete contacts, records or employees
- Keep up with fluctuations in production levels
If, for instance, business is booming in your couch factory, you’ll want your software to keep up with your intense production levels (i.e., new employees, more machinery, more hours/shifts created, etc.). On the other hand, if your couch factory is one of the numerous victims of an economic recession and you need to layoff workers, your EQMS can help you adjust accordingly.
Your EQMS should have a simple installation. A system with a quick setup allows you to swiftly transfer critical records, documents and data as well as contribute improvements in making your high-caliber products. Your employees and unmade couches will thank you once you promptly get your EQMS up and running.
In a recent Gallup study, 19% of American employees said they were happy with the collaboration between their departments and other departments in the workplace. Finding the right collaboration tool in an EQMS program can increase satisfaction among your employees, the efficiency with various projects and revenue within your enterprise. For example, if your team needs to develop ten new styles of sofas by the end of the week, this tool can ensure the right employees and departments effectively communicate, brainstorm and plan designs.
Reduce the Cost of Poor Quality (COPQ)
When calculating COPQ, you’re finding the monetary value taken out of your business for a faulty product. Here are some costs you’d typically find in a COPQ:
- Shipping fees
- New product expenses
- Labor hours
- Rising insurance rates
- Legal fees
- Stock prices
An effective EQMS with compliance and risk management tools can aid you in verifying that your products meet regulations and are of sound quality each time you make a new product so you can avoid COPQ calculations.
Now that you have an idea of how an EQMS solution can boost your business, it’s time to review and evaluate some of the key features found in this application. Here…we…go!
Organize Your Reports
One of the top features to consider when choosing an EQMS is an elite reporting tool that stores and neatly organizes your documents. Your solution should be a digital filing cabinet that’s easy to file and navigate all of your reports and important documents. You don’t want your payroll reports mixed in with your meeting minutes or 100-page business plan. If you have various drafts of documents or a document that’s had tons of heavy edits, your solution should be capable of pulling up the editing history. Your EQMS tool should also give you control over who has access to specific documents, keeping sensitive data secure.
An EQMS that can integrate with other PLM software, ERP software or CRM tools is vital to creating a single system that streamlines your workflow and provides accurate data within your facility. If your EQMS doesn’t communicate with other solutions, it will be more difficult to read what stage of production your product is in or the logistics (i.e. accounting, CRM data and other analytics) of it once it hits the market.
When getting an EQMS it’s vital to know what kind of integration you want: configuration or customization. If you go with the customization option, it’s a system that’s built just for your facility. Though it sounds like a dream come true, it can be a nightmare because every time your system needs an update, you have to craft a new code. Unless you have a coding team that you’ve assembled like the Avengers or you know how to code yourself, you’ll likely have to reach out to customer support to code and update your system. The configuration option is the stress-relieving yellow-brick road you want. As the name implies, you can easily configure what systems you already have with your new EQMS hassle-free.
Get our Manufacturing ERP Software Requirements Template
Upkeep Compliances and Catch Risks
A compliance and risk management tool usually go hand-in-hand with each other in EQMS systems to ensure you cooperate with regulations and catch risks in your manufacturing practices. However, some programs have them as separate functions.
A compliance management accessory ensures that your product complies with standard manufacturing and environmental regulations such as the food and drug administration (FDA) 21, code of federal regulations (CFR) 21 Part 820, international organization of standardization (ISO) 13485 and 14971 among others. You don’t want lawsuits, immediate shut down of your couch business or other consequences if you don’t meet or violate these or other regulations.
In addition to supervising compliance cooperation, a risk management tool can manage electronic documents and signatures, smooth out manufacturing operations and rapidly notify you of equipment or process changes. For example, if your drilling or turning machine needs maintenance, your risk management tool should alert you so you can take the necessary actions to get it fixed. This module can also formulate methods to alleviate risks seen on the manufacturing floor, recognize trends and chronicle risk-based modifications implemented across your company.
Whether you get risk and compliance management tools individually or as one module in your EQMS solution, it’s definitely worth the investment to incorporate them within your business.
Corrective and Preventive Action (CAPA)
A CAPA accessory allows you to find and correct nonconformances within your operation methods. You can use this tool to conduct an automatic investigation to find the cause of these conformances. Then you can take the suitable means to rectify and block repeating nonconformances. For example, you may find that your drilling tool doesn’t drill every necessary hole for your sofas. You either need to recalibrate, fix or replace your drill machine so you can ensure your sofas are properly and accurately drilled.
Similar to what is found in a PLM software, a change management tool notifies you and everyone (manufacturers, suppliers, internal and external stakeholders, etc.) involved in the product development process of changes or revisions made during any phase of your product’s lifecycle. For example, if you’re making a purple and pink floral-patterned sofa, but you decided to change it to jade-green palm tree leaves, you can enter these adjustments into this feature and it will instantly notify everyone.
An EQMS software with change management, reporting risk and compliance management and other features may be what you need to ensure healthier quality and compliance measures. Then again, these features or this type of manufacturing software may not be what you need. Peruse our handy-dandy comparison guide for other types of manufacturing software and features that might tickle your fancy. The important thing is to invest in a solution that aligns with your manufacturing practices.
How has an EQMS program improved your manufacturing facility? Are there any features or requirements we’ve missed that you think should be included in this article? Let us know in the comments!