You may have heard of a little virus that has been shaking up the world since last year. It wreaked quite a bit of havoc, but it also pushed some long-term trends into high gear. So how can companies adapt and level up their quality control for the post-corona era? Here are 5 best practices that reflect the trends of the future:
#1 Bye bye siloes, hello integration
Corona has put the last nail in the coffin of siloes. Welcome to our automated, integrated future. Take e-commerce brands: they’re realizing that their shipping process is just as important as the look and feel of their website to engage customers. So they have to incorporate branding from A to Z. Same goes for quality control: every part of the production process, from shelling the nuts to delivering them to the end customer, counts for quality. The final product is the end result of all of those steps. In the new era of quality control we try to avoid fixing problems at the end of the line: we go to the source of the problem and fix it wherever it occurs.
#2 Get your whole team behind it
That brings us to another type of silo: personnel. Just as an e-commerce brand can’t afford to have unhelpful shipping staff, food processing companies can’t afford weak links anywhere in their supply chain. Your forklift driver is as much an agent of quality as your designated quality control staff are. Every employee has an impact. So empower them! Listen to their experiences and get them to communicate with each other. Let’s put behind us the days when sales staff has to shrug helplessly when faced with complaints about processing defects. When their feedback is channeled back and used to improve the product, everybody wins. Quality control is going to go beyond the final check and become more about coordinating this feedback in the most effective way.
#3 Incorporate customer feedback effectively
Speaking of feedback, let’s not forget who you’re doing it for: the customer. Their feedback is like gold for improving your quality control processes. Using it effectively is the new challenge of quality control. And it needs to happen from day one. At Qcify we don’t see our customers in merely transactional terms, but as partners. It’s all about making the connection between customer feedback and R&D. How can you adjust your processing line to produce a better outcome for the customer? Again, the focus is on preventing issues instead of fixing them. That means not only gathering data but also carrying out qualitative, open-ended interviews. In the new era we’re going beyond checking things off a list and letting the customer frame the discussion.
#4 Give humans a new role
Momentum has been gathering for years on automation, but the pandemic pushed it into high gear. Companies have learned the hard way the cost of relying too heavily on human staff, and automation has become urgent. It’s not a question of man versus machine, but of man and machine. We’ve said it many times, and we’ll say it again: technology can accomplish routine tasks better and more consistently than humans can. Incorporating technology into quality control leaves less room for human error, is faster and saves resources. Not to mention that machines are not at all susceptible to flus, colds or corona viruses. Thriving companies and safe food supplies are good for everybody. Humans are destined to take on new roles as supervisors and strategists, focusing on their capacities to relate, create and imagine. Forward-thinking companies will embrace the frontier of quality control and be ahead of the curve in developing a new role for their human staff.
#5 See the bigger picture
Do you see a pattern developing here? Post-corona industry, business and society are all about connecting and bringing things together. That goes for automating quality control as well. Upgrading your processing line isn’t just a matter of replacing a manual process with a machine. It’s important to look at how machines can be integrated into an entire system, into a greater whole. Not just along the processing line, but beyond it as well: how does automation fit into your ecosystem of staff, suppliers and customers? Connecting the dots and seeing the bigger picture is the ultimate post-corona best practice for quality control.
How do you see the quality control of the future? We want your feedback too!