Have you ever played the game “Twenty Questions?” It’s a great game for long car rides, as I was reminded recently while taking an old-school family road trip from Pittsburgh to Maine. Fifteen hours of non-stop driving with nothing but the car radio, snacks and each other’s company means you’ll eventually play every game you know (at least twice).
For those unfamiliar, Twenty Questions is a game where one player thinks of something, and the other players have 20 questions to guess what it is. I've found that process of elimination can be an effective strategy. To discover what the thing is, it’s helpful to first determine what it isn’t.
When talking about Quality 4.0 — especially with those new to the topic — we often encounter misconceptions regarding how it connects to what quality teams are doing today. So, in the spirit of Twenty Questions, I’m going to define what Quality 4.0 is — and discuss what it isn’t.
Quality 4.0 is the digitalization of quality through the application of traditional and Industry 4.0 technologies to improve and better monitor quality. For more information, check out the Quality 4.0 wheel, read our definitive blog post, download the comprehensive Book or listen to the webcast.
What Are the Four Things Quality Isn't?
#1 Quality 4.0 is not separate from traditional quality. A big risk in Quality 4.0 is deploying new analytics such as machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), new apps like augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) or connectivity without taking today's fragmented people, processes, and technology into consideration. This is a costly mistake, in effort, money and time. For instance, if you perform machine learning and AI on a highly-fragmented and incomplete data model, you will get inconclusive and likely inaccurate predictions, plus you’ll squander cycles and scarce competencies.
Here’s the thing: If your data exists in files or on paper, then it’s going to involve a lot of work. Odds are, you might try to fix the underlying data problem through traditional quality technology solutions such as Enterprise Quality Management Software (EQMS). Bear in mind, however, that Quality 4.0 initiatives are usually part of a bigger Digital Transformation initiative — which may already be underway in your organization. So, it's better to ride this momentum than default to traditional solutions.
#2 Quality 4.0 is not EQMS. EQMS, supplier portals, and dashboards are great examples of traditional quality technology solutions. They are crucial to establishing a quality data model as well as data context, and therefore Quality 4.0. An EQMS that provides service technicians with AR data about likely failures, initiates complaints sourced from social listening, or is part of a broader machine learning/AI strategy is a critical part of Quality 4.0. However, traditional EQMS and supplier portals that operate in a silo are not Quality 4.0.
#3 Quality 4.0 is not all about technology. Take a glance at the Quality 4.0 wheel and you’ll see that it’s so much more than just technology. Most of the elements are related to people and process, and for good reason. It's because quality is cross-functional and spans the lifecycle. Quality 4.0 has been used to improve culture of quality initiatives, risk management initiatives, metrics initiatives, and many others.
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#4 Quality 4.0 is not just the job of IT. Quality 4.0 needs technologists to navigate data landmines, guide the strategy for improving tech, and help get the most from existing tech. But, since there are many potentially crippling mistakes that technologists could make, it’s clear that Quality 4.0 requires leadership beyond the IT department. What’s more, Quality 4.0 is a strategic way for quality teams to gain priority with top management, putting quality in the limelight.
The Journey to Quality 4.0
It seems only fitting to close this post by talking about the Quality 4.0 journey. LNS Research's statistics and our industry discussions indicate that most manufacturers have started their Digital Transformation journey — and quality is their top use case. So we recommend that manufacturers make haste to get educated, build a strategy and lead the transformation.