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How to take the load off IT

June 27, 2022
How no-code/low-code technology boosts QM systems

A quality management (QM) system is a set of business processes that allow organizations to consistently monitor, identify, measure, control and improve their core production operations, ultimately improving overall manufacturing performance. It helps manufacturers to monitor, control and document all of their quality processes so that their manufacturing processes and products comply with all industry-standard regulations.

QM software contains digital methods to track and manage quality assurance, quality control, quality improvement and risk management. This helps manufacturers to improve system uptime, including material supply and equipment performance.

Also read: Can low-code/no-code save development time?

QM software augments a QM system by offering the following benefits to manufacturers.

  1. It provides better control over the workflows and manufacturing processes to ensure the quality of products.
  2. It ensures the products are compliant with all quality-control standards and regulations.
  3. It improves communication between different manufacturing departments regarding issues such as availability of stock, quality requirements and product information. This helps to standardize the quality of operations and business processes that ultimately improve customer satisfaction.
  4. Well-configured QM software enables comprehensive product assessment to ensure customers receive the best quality products.

The quality-control process has been around since the early 20th century. Manufacturing companies such as Ford employed inspectors who would check the quality of its cars. However, the quality-control process looked completely different. Most of the decision-making power was in the hands of higher-level executives who defined most of the quality-control processes. Floor managers with more hands-on experience and insights about workflow processes were often excluded from decision-making. But this scenario has changed. The move to digitalization has made decision-making data-driven and even automated.

More employees on the front lines are tasked with improving productivity while ensuring higher quality and less scrap. These employees must predict material shortages and immediately repair a machine that goes off-line. They need better technology solutions to monitor all these systems and processes and immediately take action when needed.

Unfortunately, IT teams are often overworked and overburdened, so they cannot work on solutions to digitalize processes or build applications to collect better data and read sensor data. This is where low-code or no-code software comes in.

It is essentially the future of application development. Manufacturers do not have to rely on external IT workers to develop quality software. Instead, they can empower their own team to understand the needs of their processes and develop the solutions they need, such as collecting inspection data using smartphones or tablets. And the software lets users build custom apps that map directly to the quality methodology or processes and can easily tie into existing QM software. Thus, low-code programs put experts who recognize their own processes in the control of the entire quality-management process.

Low-code/no-code platforms offer a solution for IT teams and quality teams waiting for new apps. Using low-code software does not mean compromising software quality. The best solutions offer many features and advantages for quality teams looking to innovate digitally and for IT teams protective of corporate data. Here are a few of them.

  1. Low-code/no-code programs democratize the process of app development. Even if someone is not an expert in writing code, they can become a part of app development and management.
  2. Low-code allows for greater flexibility as teams can work more efficiently to adapt to the company's needs once the QM software is embedded within the workflows and operations. This ability to quickly adapt and adjust to changing demands makes low-code the future of app development.
  3. Low-code programs enable field workers with minimal programming knowledge to build QMS tools by leveraging a user-friendly interface. Leaders can build custom apps for mobile devices to use anywhere across the production line. These apps improve the speed and accuracy of data collection and automate data entry processes on the production floor.
  4. Good low-code software usually has built-in data collection and inspection applications that allow you to measure performance, identify any potential production issues and solve them quickly. This can help manufacturers to keep track of processes and systems.
  5. Low-code software reduces the total ownership cost of the QM system, allowing manufacturers to rapidly automate and optimize processes without spending a lot of time and money. Unlike traditional coding programs, low-code does not require the same level of effort, so it can quickly meet the digital demands of companies.

Low-code applications can connect different data sources and make the ability to access them easily in every user’s hand: the smartphone. One of the best features of low-code programs is they can produce intuitive apps that facilitate quick adoption and personalization experiences, even in mobile native environments. Low-code programs can adapt to different standards for quality checks and across various user experiences. Low-code software allows users to make applications depending on a company's needs and specific practices and then update them as needs change. Also, the ability to build disposable apps, or an app that can be used for a specific urgent use and then discarded, is a reality because low-code is so fast and cost-efficient. Low-code essentially gives the company the freedom to expand and adapt depending on its needs.

Low code empowers engineers and quality experts to build their own apps and lay them out exactly as they can best be used in practice. This is harder to do when a developer gathers requirements and then builds the app without first-hand knowledge of the process or work demands. The entire process is democratized with low-code, allowing users to conceive and develop the apps that can best help them do their jobs more effectively. Therefore, low-code enables everyone to use highly productive apps since no coding skills are required to build them, ensuring that everyone, not just a handful of people, can digitalize manufacturing processes.

Low-code adoption is also a lucrative way to attract the most talented engineers in your company. For instance, they do not want to work in environments with antiquated data collection, the inability to use visual analytics solutions or no autonomy to make a change. They want to benefit from innovative technology and influence what they work on. Thus, low-code becomes one of the most logical paths to upskilling your labor force and creating a digital-first culture in your company. This software can empower manufacturing experts and engineers to use their expertise in day-to-day scalable enterprise applications.

About the author

Richard Rabins is CEO at Alpha Software. Contact him at [email protected].

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