IoT: Taking Quality Control from Reactive to Proactive
Today, quality control is reactive. Manufacturers produce an item, it undergoes quality control procedures, and hopefully that department will catch some flaw before the product hits the market.
What if quality control was proactive instead? IoT makes that dream a possibility. Manufacturers can program IoT equipment in factories to monitor the quality of raw materials and finished products at every point during the manufacturing process. Moreover, they can also analyze equipment performance in real time, so if there’s a problem on the assembly line, manufacturers can fix it as soon as possible to prevent costly delays.
One example of this is IBM’s Cognitive Visual Recognition software. With this program, manufacturers can program equipment to look for defects in parts as they pass through the production and assembly processes. Although this software is still an emerging technology, it’s already reduced manufacturing defects by 10%.
Automation: Improving Quality Control
Automation in and of itself can serve as a quality control tool, and it’s the linchpin of IoT. How can automation improve quality?
Increasing the use of automated manufacturing equipment reduces the reliance upon human employees. As we all know, to err is human. And human errors can lead to low quality products, which can actually endanger the lives of end-users.
Automated equipment, on the other hand, will only make a mistake if it’s not programmed properly. However, as mentioned above, automated equipment can be monitored to ensure that no errors take place. You can even automate the collection of data from sensors in real time so that no humans need to be involved in gathering data from the manufacturing floor in the first place.
Moreover, automation supports quality control protocols currently in place. For years, manufacturers have relied upon statistical process control to gain a sampling of the quality of a batch because it’s impossible to inspect every single item. Automation allows for a real-time, closed-loop feedback quality system.
When automation is on a closed-loop system, you eliminate post-mortem reviews that take up valuable time and effort, not to mention get rid of the delays that transform information from being out-of-date. Instead of catching the occasional mistake (if that), you can prevent serious, potentially fatal product malfunctions before they spiral out of control.
IoT goes a long way towards creating a reality in which product recalls are a thing of the past. It allows you to become proactive about quality control instead of waiting around for something to go wrong. Automation is the cornerstone of IoT-based quality control – it removes human error and dramatically improves the accuracy of data. Thanks to technological advances, quality control is entering a new era.