QM is for life, not just the handbook

The list of organisational measures that could be implemented for quality assurance when producing metal parts is virtually never-ending. But how do you know which ones are going to deliver results? Our number one rule is that QM must support the day-to-day processes and the results need to be directly visible. This means that the methods used can sometimes be on the unconventional side. 

Turning good intentions into perfect engineering

Quality management almost assumes the role of a control centre as far as all processes within the company are concerned. It is important to be aware of just how easy it is to lose sight of the tangible benefits of potential measures along the way. Keeping these benefits in mind at all times and checking back on them involves ensuring that they are delivered in full and that the all-important quality standards are complied with. Our strategy is to plan and implement measures with results that are directly visible. One example is our unique use of FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis), which is normally put into action during the development phase. We assign a quality manager to projects right from the proposal phase. The reason we do this so much earlier than would usually be expected is to avoid potential sources of errors from the outset. We don’t want to be discovering and rectifying problems once the project is already underway. We spot possible causes of errors very early on during the development phase and evaluate them at that stage. Our findings help us to avoid costs being incurred for corrections after orders have been placed or when production has started. We can also rule out design flaws this way. We work together effectively with our customers even when we are putting our proposal together, allowing us to achieve a high level of project maturity during this initial phase and come up with much more precise calculations. We evaluate everything at great length before submitting our proposal, including materials, use of production technologies, further processing and quality assurance methods during series production. This avoids us having to flag up anything new when the order is placed. We can get on with the project more quickly and ultimately start series production sooner.

Hands-on ideas for everyday applications

With development sorted and series production underway, we are still always in need of alternative quality assurance procedures for perforated parts. Take deep-drawn ventilation grilles for vehicles within the agricultural and construction sectors, for example. It is often difficult to check them using standard technology owing to the perforation. Scanners can’t register formed, perforated parts properly. And fragility and springback mean that it would be impossible to get a reliable result if the parts were measured freely. The methods used to implement reliable processes in the face of these challenges are unique. For one project, the solution can be found right next to the machine in the form of a unit consisting of a negative mould of the part, which in this case is a ventilation grille for construction machinery. The parts are checked perfectly pragmatically by simply holding them against the mould. The installation situation is simulated, springback can be evened out and any deviations are spotted right away. Not to mention the fact that performing the checks right next to the deep-drawing press means that action can be taken without any delay at all. If something isn’t right, production is stopped immediately to avoid waste. Adjustments are made, without moving away from the machine, until the parts are in perfect shape again.

It is this ingenious combination of state-of-the-art technology and hands-on methods that enabled 0 ppm to be achieved for server cabinet door components, for instance.

Our quality managers start working on projects at the initial proposal phase.

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