Quality 4.0 – Connectivity and Collaboration
In recent times we have seen rapid advances in connectivity, mobility, analytics, scalability and data resulting in what has been called the ‘fourth industrial revolution’, or Industry 4.0. This fourth industrial revolution has digitised operations and resulted in transformations in manufacturing and operational efficiency, supply chain performance and monitoring, innovation and in some cases enabled entirely new business models to be developed.
Quality 4.0 is seeking to align ‘traditional’ quality and systems management with ‘Industry 4.0’. Quality 4.0 is not about technology, but the users of that technology and the processes they use to maximise value, efficiency and effectiveness.
In simple terms we can think of connectivity as that connection between IT (information technology) and OT (operational technology).
In this sense, IT includes areas such as the QMS and enterprise resource planning, and OT is the technology used and applied in areas such as service delivery and manufacturing.
Quality 4.0 seeks to ensure connection between people, products, devices and processes:
People by means of smart or wearable devises, creating goals of increased safety and efficiency.
Product connectivity can provide feedback on operational performance and efficiency as well as conditions and failure modes.
Device connection seeks to efficiently connect sensored equipment. It can lead to devices performing ‘at point’ analytics and decide which data is relevant to send to centralised OT / IT systems.
Process connection can provide feedback from connected people product and equipment into connected processes and subsequent decisions and outputs.
The trick here is to make the connection between quality management that can sit in the IT domain and execution which can sit in the operations domain. Management and leaders need to plan to ensure their system data, people, processes work collaboratively to ensure effective data driven outputs and decisions.
Collaboration is fundamental and critical for quality management. Quality is (or should be) cross functional, and many organisations are yet to take full advantage of automated workflows and portals.
The progression of communication and social media platforms has enabled an increase in the visibility of quality issues, and collaboration is a powerful tool in innovation and improvement that helps mitigate these issues.
Leadership and management need to consider how they will ensure collaboration within their operation and information systems to secure reliable data and operational improvements.