There’s an incredibly bright future for Additive Manufacturers. The Additive Manufacturing (AM) industry grew to $11.8 billion globally in 2019, with a growth rate of 21.2%.
As the industry continues to evolve, continued growth requires processes and quality standards to eliminate the stumbling blocks that can plague even the best manufacturers. Additive Manufacturers need to streamline processes and operations to produce:
- Smoother production pathways
- Higher quality production
- More efficient operations
- Consistent production
- Less waste and rework
- Lower costs of production
When employees don’t follow the process and quality standards that you’ve laid out, you won’t achieve these goals. It can hurt your business, increase risks, and lead to greater liability.
Seven Steps to Ensure That AM Employees Follow Process and Quality Standards
How do you ensure that everyone follows the process and quality standards that you’ve set out? These seven steps will form the foundation that you need.
1. Effective Systems/Process Control
Every Additive Manufacturer needs to have a formal production pathway and access to real-time information. Part quality is highly dependent on rigid process control. In too many AM shops, this process control is inadequate to produce reliable and consistent parts. It leads to high levels of waste, scrap, and costly rework. Creating higher quality at lower costs begins by implementing better production floor controls.
This also means making sure priorities don’t conflict—for example, speed vs. quality. You must clearly define expectations to deliver consistency.
2. Effective Training
You must also implement a formal training process that includes the qualification of all personnel and equipment.
Few employees like training, especially if they have to do it more than once, so employee buy-in is essential. Team members must understand the importance of the training and how it relates to meeting company goals.
With many manufacturing employees retiring or leaving the workforce in record numbers, training becomes even more crucial to maintain consistency and quality.
3. Transparency of Information
Too much information is locked away in information silos and unavailable to those on the shop floor who need it. It might be stuffed into filing cabinets, in separate databases, lost, misplaced, or simply never updated.
This leads to guesswork and old data being used. Neither scenario leads to good results. Every operator should have real-time information that requires acknowledgment before build phases can begin. This ensures conformity and accountability.
4. Tracking & Measurement
With real-time data tied directly to work orders, every individual part can be tracked throughout the entire process. It provides the visibility and process control that’s needed for monitoring and can cut down audit times by as much as half.
5. Corrective Actions
Ensuring employee process and quality checks will lead to the early discovery of any non-conformances. This is particularly important in Additive Manufacturing because an error at one stage can be hidden by additional build layers and left undiscovered until it’s too late to make adjustments. That can result in entire builds being scrapped and reworked.
Even when problems are discovered and a formal CAPA program is in place, many Additive Manufacturers fail to create the data trail within the CAPA for every operator to make the necessary adjustments. CAPAs must include real-time data for efficient processing.
6. Eliminate Most Manual Processes
It’s hard to believe in today’s high-tech world that manufacturers are still doing so many things manually when there’s tech available to automate processes.
Manual processes, data input, and reporting can cut manufacturing capacity by as much as 60%. When companies do things manually, everything moves more slowly. There are also more errors made along the way.
7. Continuous Process Improvement/Optimization
Another key to ensuring that employee process and quality checks hit the mark is continuous process improvement programs. After each project, there should be a post-analysis done to analyze where improvements can be made to optimize operations.
Even small, incremental improvements can lead to significant savings over time.
Ensuring Employee Process and Quality Checks Requires the Right Software
If you already have all seven steps in place and are confident that you’re producing the consistent quality that you need at the optimal price, congratulations! You’re one of an incredibly elite group—and probably already a Bluestreak | Bright AM customer.
But most Additive Manufacturers need help optimizing their production pathway. That’s where Bluestreak | Bright AM excels. It’s an extensible and real-time MES/QMS that is built exclusively for the Additive Manufacturing industry.
It manages the entire production pathway to drive efficiency in production. Employees always have access to the real-time information that they need. Built-in checks and balances flag problems before they occur.
Quite simply, Bluestreak | Bright AM drives quality and consistency. For Additive Manufacturers, it minimizes scrap and waste, reduces rework and extensive post-processing, and ensures repeatable quality from materials, printers, and operators. When it comes to making sure employee process and quality checks are on track, Bluestreak | Bright AM is the solution.
Bluestreak | Bright AM is designed exclusively for the Additive Manufacturing industry. Our best-of-class MES and QMS solutions bring quality control management to new levels. Contact Bluestreak | Bright AM today for a free demo!