Share content on LinkedIn Share content on YouTube
Daniel Schaeffler Daniel Schaeffler

An Introduction to Quality Management Systems

July 27, 2023

The American Society for Quality defines quality in two ways:

  • The characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs.
  • A product or service free of deficiencies. 

Quality management involves managing activities and resources to achieve quality objectives within an organization and prevent nonconformances.

Quality management systems (QMS) deliver a formalized collection of processes used by businesses to help increase productivity, improve customer service and reduce waste. ISO 9000—a series of related ISO standards—provides a general framework for quality-management standards. Whether using this or others, metal forming companies benefit from having a QMS in place to address rapidly and effectively the quality spills that inevitably occur over time.

IMF0823_Yin_Yangmplementing and following an effective QMS should lead to numerous related benefits. The QMS should identify and eliminate waste of all types, including those related to defects, overproduction, excess inventory, unnecessary motion, excess processing, waiting and unnecessary transportation, as well as unused creativity and experience of team members. Organizations achieve a reduction in costs and risks without these drags on operational excellence.

Among other things, ISO 9001:2015 highlights the importance of determining and managing knowledge within an organization. Organizational knowledge comes from both internal and external sources, such as knowledge gained from failures as well as from successful projects, continuous-improvement activities, communication with customers and consultants, and attending conferences and similar venues where the sharing of ideas occurs.

Knowledge management encourages experiential learning within the organization, as well as mentoring and benchmarking. Included are the critical steps to document this knowledge as a safeguard against losing it due to staff turnover.

The explicit focus on knowledge management is a new addition to this latest release of ISO 9001. It pairs with the push for risk-based thinking, which instructs the organization to explicitly determine the factors that could cause processes—and the quality system—to deviate from the planned results, and to put in place preventive controls to minimize or eliminate negative effects from these spills.

Quality Management Components

An effective QMS addresses quality planning, quality assurance, quality control and quality improvement. Don’t look at these individually; instead, view them as an interrelated continuum.

Quality planning occurs at the design stage, when an organization develops an understanding of the customer’s needs, defines the critical product features and creates the processes to achieve these characteristics. Documenting all of the actions needed to reach these objectives helps focus attention on important steps. Insufficient quality planning opens the door for additional quality-improvement activities.

Quality assurance (QA) focuses on the methods and practices in the prevention of defects. QA centers on the processes and systems involved in creating quality defect-free products suitable for their intended purpose. QA emphasizes prevention over inspection of defects. Potential tests include metal forming simulations and hands-on strain analysis on stampings, and fatigue and durability analysis for structures. QA testing is proactive, trying to first determine the situations where defects could occur and then establishing mechanisms to avoid producing those defects.

In contrast, quality control (QC) is a reactive approach to identify product defects once they have occurred, and to then mitigate their effects. Once defects occur, identification of root causes is paramount in order to implement permanent corrective actions. Consulting with subject-matter experts helps to trace back far enough to determine causality. Among the tools that aid in these efforts: the “five-whys” method and developing an Ishikawa fishbone diagram.

Organizations should continually strive for quality improvement. Opportunities arise from determining the root cause of prior failures, as well as from proactively tackling issues that, while not failures, clearly have room for improvement. Even incremental improvements favorably move the needle. There are several continuous process-improvement methodologies in widespread use, including Kaizen, DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve and control) and PDCA (plan-do-check-act).

Look for more information on these topics in the coming months! MF

Industry-Related Terms: Forming
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: Engineering Quality Solutions, Inc., 4M Partners, LLC

Technologies: Quality Control


Must be logged in to post a comment.
There are no comments posted.

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Start receiving newsletters.