Quality 4.0 and New Product Introduction

Quality 4.0Many quality leaders have recognized that imbuing a culture of quality is critical to achieving quality objectives and desired outcomes. In fact, LNS Research identifies that 37% of quality leaders (n=1198) cite a lack of quality culture as the top roadblock to achieving quality objectives. Naturally, culture initiatives are common and emphasize that the corporation must transition to a more proactive quality approach. One critical element to culture initiatives is early and effective engagement in new product introduction (NPI). However, most of the market lacks early and effective engagement of quality processes, insights, and competencies within NPI, and quality teams often struggle to justify a change.

Recent market dynamics have increased the focus on quality for many manufacturers, providing quality with a new leverage to gain increased traction in NPI. This is true in business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) relationships, although the reasons are different. Quality’s role in B2C has changed dramatically with the advent of internet marketplaces and social media. Consumer reviews and 5-star ratings have created extensive visibility to good quality as well as quality defects, directly influencing consumer purchasing behavior. B2B customers are increasingly pairing risk-based supplier scorecards with enhanced data gathering and management, which guides future supplier contracts. Quality is a critical KPI in these scorecards, and increasingly essential to contract awards.

The market’s visibility to early quality issues has never been higher and will continue to increase, creating opportunities for the prepared and substantial risks for those slow to react. Quality leaders should embrace these changes and use them to fuel conversations with peers and top management about quality’s role in the company’s sustainable top line and bottom line growth.

How should quality leaders react?

As LNS previously defined, Quality 4.0 is the Digital Transformation of quality, driving new insights and new levels of performance by leveraging analytics, apps, collaboration, and incorporating data from connected devices (sensors, manufacturing assets, in-service devices, test equipment, tooling, etc), social media and online marketplaces, and other sources. Quality 4.0 builds upon a solid traditional quality backbone and impacts culture, leadership, competencies, and other areas of the company.

Quality leaders must react by updating their strategies to overcome traditional hurdles for early and effective engagement in NPI, build upon quality’s existing strengths in NPI, invest in risk management, and digitally transform. More detailed research, rationale, and guidance around these topics is provided in the NPI research spotlight.Leveraging Quality 4.0 to Solve Core Challenges

Quality 4.0 NPI Use Cases

While innovative firms may find many applications of Quality 4.0 in NPI, it is often beneficial to start with some examples that are already in production. The following are a few of the Quality 4.0 NPI use cases that have been adopted by industry.

Use Case: Truck Manufacturer

A heavy truck manufacturer now provides a service to remotely monitor fleets of trucks, which may include its trucks as well as competitors’. The service improves fleet fuel efficiency – a core business driver for fleet owners – by better pairing powertrain to fleet usage. It also detects “canary” failures, failures that have occurred on a small population of trucks that will likely impact many others, and permits the manufacturer to fix the issue proactively, avoiding truck downtime. In addition to improving operations of existing trucks, these new insights drive high velocity and high veracity insights to product development, improving supplier selection, specifications, and simulations.

Use Case: Pharmaceutical Firms

Pharmaceutical firms are investing in wearables and augmented reality (AR) in testing and clinical trials to improve compliance tracking, data tracking, and reduce costs and time to market.

    • Patient drop-out of clinical trials is a significant issue for pharmaceutical firms. When a patient does not complete the clinical trial, it creates additional costs for the firm and may delay the entry of the drug into the market. Several pharmaceutical firms are leveraging wearables to track patient progress in clinical trials and to provide regular interaction to reduce the drop-out rate.
    • AR has been adopted to deliver interactive work instructions and procedures, both reducing the risk of costly mistakes, as well as improving the auditability of testing.

Use Case: Manufacturers Using MOM

Manufacturers from many industries have connected shop floor automation with manufacturing operations management systems (MOM). The MOM systems push machine and quality settings and pull statistical process control (SPC) and other data. However, the MOM systems are often disconnected from systems that house control plans and acceptable quality limit (AQLs) - which are most often performed in spreadsheets – and therefore NPI is missing critical lessons learned from the shop floor. Those that have connected these traditional systems achieve closed-loop insights on where they do a good job controlling quality, and where alternatives or improvements are needed. However, LNS is aware of several manufacturers that use the data gathered from connected in-service equipment and connected operations to create a digital twin of the physical product. This digital twin is used to improve simulations, specifications, risk management, and testing.


Quality is a valuable NPI contributor for many manufacturers, and Quality 4.0 opens new insights and capabilities that leads to product differentiation. Manufacturers should include Quality 4.0 NPI use cases to improve quality of new products proactively.

Quality new product introduction (NPI) playbook

All entries in this Industrial Transformation blog represent the opinions of the authors based on their industry experience and their view of the information collected using the methods described in our Research Integrity. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

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