Prescription for Manufacturing Health:
The Quality-Audit Program for IG Production
by Richard Warren
Similar to a routine checkup from a physician, a quality audit is a walk-through inspection of a customer manufacturing facility, during which a technical representative observes customer processes and practices, equipment suitability, maintenance and the workers’ ability to follow recommendations. The quality audit should also be the foundation for a company’s warranty program, which is a logical extension of the audit program.
For component suppliers looking to differentiate themselves from the competition, a quality- audit program is ideal. Key benefits for implementing such a program include improving the relationship between supplier and customer, expanding your influence beyond that of a component supplier and positioning your company as a consultant/partner, not just another seller. In addition, customers have peace of mind regarding how they use supplied products.
A standard quality audit report should include a review of how closely an insulating glass (IG) manufacturer complies to supplier recommendations and industry standards. The audit should focus on the following areas of concentration:
• Glass cutting;
• Material stock and storage;
• Glass washing;
• Application of product;
• Muntins and inserts;
• Equipment maintenance and performance;
• Gas filling procedures;
• IG handling and shipping;
• Glazing; and
• Quality control.
If certain items are below industry standard or not up to supplier recommendations, the issue should be flagged for discussion. These issues then are reviewed with specific workers and the supervisor or manager in charge and a corrective plan is put into place.
Our company provides a no-charge quality audit program to support the customer and its products in the field. The program assesses all processes associated with insulating glass fabrication and glazing. As described above, the audit reports areas of concern and recommends corrective actions.
The quality audit is the foundation for our warranty program, which is a logical extension of an audit program. After many years of collecting data we found that successful customers usually did the critical things right. There is also a correlation between IG failure rates and adherence to certain critical practices. Therefore, the quality audit inspection for warranty focuses on the required practices to qualify for warranty coverage.
For example, our objectives for the warranty program are to:
• Share with customers information on actuarial methods of tracking and reporting IG field problems;
• Recognize customers utilizing best practices in sash and glazing design;
• Enhance recommendations based on statistical feedback; and
• Promote an advantage that will allow customers to differentiate their products and services.
Our warranty program was established to demonstrate our commitment and confidence to its flexible spacer technologies. We provide our warranty-certified customers with a no-charge tracking software package to capture statistical information, including overall production data. Each year near the anniversary date of the warranty, a quality audit is scheduled at which time the customer is expected to maintain all required practices so the warranty remains active.
Just like an annual physical, a quality audit by a component supplier provides objective information on the state of your company’s IG production health. It will provide you with areas of concern, recommendations for improvement and the essential tools necessary to provide high-quality products to your customer.
Richard Warren works in the technical service department at TruSeal Technologies, based in Beachwood, Ohio.
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