Top 10 Reasons to Automate Manufacturing Compliance: The Finale

Based on an original whitepaper by Louis Columbus

This is the final blog in our series that highlights the top 10 reasons to automate your manufacturing compliance. In the first blog, we explained how customer satisfaction, culture of quality and supplier audits can all be achieved when automating your compliance processes.

In the second blog, we went on to talk about preventative methods and corrective action plans, supplier rankings on quality and integrated systems based on a compliance system of record.

We will now examine what it means to automate engineering change notices, process improvement, turning compliance into a competitive differentiator and making government regulations work in your favour.

Reason 7: Ensure Engineering Change Notices (ECNs) and Drawing Compliance

The more complex the manufacturing environment, the greater the impact of ECNs and drawing modifications across engineering, design, purchasing, production and quality-management departments for a successful company. Many manufacturers have had their ECN processes in place for decades. However, while they operate efficiently, the sheer volume and complexity of changes required is dramatically increasing.

Design engineers working on the in-cockpit electronics for the Airbus A380 once remarked that the ECNs for the A380 were nearly three inches thick. Admittedly, the A380 is one of the most complex aircraft ever produced, and the in-cockpit systems rely on over two dozen integration points across dozens of on-board systems. This example, however, underscores why even the most well-worn paths of ECN process workflows in manufacturers are increasingly overburdened with ECN volume and complexity – the likes of which they have never seen before.

The effectiveness of your business depends on your ability to enforce standard operating procedures, share knowledge and document the control process. There is no easy way to properly control changes in products, processes and master records. Change control is a complex process. Failure to have an adequate change-control system can cause equally complex results. Inadequate change control can expose a company to product liability action resulting in product recalls, internal confusion and a violation of product, processes and equipment regulations. The bottom line is that managing change control through a more effective approach to classifying, analysing and responding to ECNs electronically is critical to stay competitive. By automating compliance, the ability to automate ECN workflows, including the allowance of multiple and often parallel signatures, can save hundreds of hours a year and ensure higher levels of product compliance.

Reason 8: Use Compliance as a Catalyst for Process Improvement

Creating and executing a compliance strategy has to do with redefining supplier qualification, management, incoming inspection, product non-conformance and corrective-action processes so that a consistently high level of product quality can be delivered. The impetus for process improvement is customer-driven quality standards that need to be met in order to keep sales levels up. Customer loyalty has a lot more to do with product quality than any other aspect of marketing or sales-execution.

Process improvement is critical to the ability of staying aligned with customers’ expectations of performance in order to deliver them. The bottom line is that those highest-performing manufacturers are using quality initiatives as the catalyst to make their production more centred on customers’ expectations first, whether those expectations are in the form of an ECN, contract or purchase order.

Reason 9: Transform Compliance Wins into Competitive Differentiators

If you consider the GE culture and its transformational effect in the Six Sigma concept or the Toyota Production System and its heavy reliance on compliance performance measurements, the reasons for automating compliance become clear. Once a manufacturer has chosen to automate compliance processes, one of the strategic objectives to consider is how to position quality leadership as a competitive differentiator. Instead of just relying on price, promotional activity or channel strategies, consider turning your compliance strategies into a competitive advantage by underscoring product and service quality performance. Only by taking a more integrated view of quality-management strategies can this happen.

Reason 10: Manage Government Regulations So They Don’t Manage You

Stop looking at regulations for compliance as an impediment to getting your company’s strategies together. Instead, think about how compliance to these regulations can become a competitive advantage. Making regulatory compliance work for your company starts with a clear definition of how you can make your product quality and product-compliance strategies more aligned with customers’ needs and less inwardly centric and focused only on clearing the next regulatory hurdle. Being more customer-driven from a compliance standpoint puts regulatory compliance in its proper perspective, and this is another reason why many manufacturers choose to automate their compliance strategies. Responding to regulatory compliance requirements needs to be done within the context of market- and customer-driven quality initiatives. Don’t comply for the sake of complying; comply to find a unique competitive advantage on which you can capitalise.

About Cincom Systems

Cincom offers top-of-the-range quality and compliance software tailored for the advanced manufacturing industry as part of its Enterprise ERP suite, Cincom CONTROL™.