Quality 4.0 is the Digital Transformation of people and processes to drive quality improvement (read further here). We’ve been discussing Quality 4.0 with the market, and it’s clear that the statistics are correct. For every one quality leader that is actively working on Quality 4.0, there are 19 or so that are not.
That’s not to say that their companies aren’t working on Quality 4.0 – they are, and in large quantities (read this article in Quality Digest). It’s just that quality is allowing IT, engineering, R&D, operations, and marketing to lead these efforts, and losing out in the process.
So, why isn’t quality leading Quality 4.0? The chart below makes that clear. First and foremost, 50% of quality teams don’t know about Quality 4.0 or have misunderstood it such that they believe it won’t have an impact. The other 50% see the value, but very few (3%) are executing, which highlights the other issues; quality leaders are either prioritizing their Quality 4.0 strategy too low or need help building strategies and business cases.
Message to quality leaders: Get educated, get involved, and build a Quality 4.0 strategy.
Chart: How is the Industrial Internet of Things impacting your business today? (N=1032)
Why Quality 4.0 Should Be A Central Focus in Every Quality Leader’s Strategy:
1. Solve Traditional Quality Problems
A Quality 4.0 strategy shouldn’t be a standalone strategy, which is one reason why quality shouldn’t abdicate their role in Digital Transformation (DX). While Quality 4.0 technologies can certainly be used tactically, innovation leaders can build a comprehensive people, process, and technology strategy that leverages digital technologies to enhance traditional quality capabilities.
Rethink your existing initiatives in Supplier Quality Management, performance of in-service equipment, competency development, etc. Quality 4.0 doesn’t replace these initiatives; it makes them better.
Quality 4.0 doesn’t replace existing strategies; it solves top traditional quality challenges in new, novel, and powerful ways.
2. Get Your Use Cases In
LNS Research statistics show that 40% of manufacturers plan to deploy a DX strategy today, and another 24% plan to start in the next 12 months. Anecdotally, conversations with corporate leaders support this finding. Many manufacturers are working on their strategies today, and even those that have begun to deploy DX are continuing to refine strategies.
Quality improvement is a top use case for DX at industrial companies, but it takes the leadership of quality teams to identify meaningful Quality 4.0 applications and to ensure that the company will get the most value from these applications.
This is an ideal time to get educated, get involved, and provide quality strategies.
3. New Insights
Quality 4.0 provides new insights in many ways. Mobile, Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR), and wearable apps provide greater access to information. Predictive Analytics algorithms detect new patterns in data that at first trigger quality alerts and then begin to predict when in the future quality events will occur. Quality application of collaborative technologies such as social media and blockchain allow sharing insights either deeper or more broadly.
These insights can be highly invaluable. Some have used them to predictively reject supplier lots, perform 100% in-process inspections, and gain real-time understanding of root-causes.
This is an area that quality has long struggled. In fact, most of the market has poor capabilities to generate real-time quality metrics today. However, Quality 4.0 can be leveraged to drive change. As an example, is your company like many in that it has highly fragmented systems and data sources? You’ll likely hear the term “Big Data” in DX projects. One part of Big Data is the concept of data veracity (data “quality”), which is critical because low data veracity sources mean that the insights are also low veracity. Garbage in, garbage out, but in this case, the garbage out can be very damaging both to the company as well as a nascent DX program.
Not only can Quality 4.0 provide new insights, but when properly leveraged it can be a great opportunity to address historical issues in this domain.
4. Culture of Quality
Is there a quality leader that doesn’t have a culture of quality initiative? This is such a pervasive concern and effort, and for a good reason – quality must be a cross-functional responsibility, not a department. Quality 4.0 provides technologies that are being used by leaders today to enhance quality.
More importantly, leaders from across the company are pursuing Quality 4.0 as a top DX use case, because it was obvious to them that DX could be applied to improve quality. No arm twisting needed. In fact, they’re leading much more often than quality. That’s great momentum, and quality should be careful to preserve that momentum and capitalize on it.