Metal finishing shops with an effective quality management process that ensures consistency and excellence in their work tend to outperform competitors with less stringent controls, resulting in a superior product. A well-designed quality management system (QMS) in turn requires a framework like ISO 9000, which focuses on the documentation of processes to ensure the quality of work. This matters even if a process like metal finishing isn’t done in-house. In quality management, processes need to be compliant with the most current government regulations and industry standards, even when work is outsourced. Regardless of where the work is done, a properly implemented QMS will ensure parts and products of higher quality. Management processes throughout a business should support the quality of the work done, not only on the shop floor but throughout the entire organization.
What is a Quality Management System?
Quality management differs depending on the interpretation, often depending on the application and context in which a QMS is used. When it comes to the fabrication of metal components that are used in other products, it isn’t just about finding and preventing defects. It’s imperative to also guarantee that they function properly within the end product. If a part looks good but doesn’t meet design specifications, it won’t work correctly so won’t meet these quality standards, which is why quality management processes in metal finishing need to go beyond a component’s appearance.
In fact, a reliable QMS will help ensure parts fabrication meets deadlines and doesn’t go over budget. It benefits the metal finishing process by helping shops avoid problems regarding reliability or safety, which may add to costs should products be recalled or, even worse, cause harm to the end user that can result in legal action. Specifications for a part must be met and verified, while also being repeatable. This is especially true for manufacturers who outsource part production, or even certain aspects of it like metal finishing, as it cedes control of these operations away from product manufacturers. Working with a vendor with a properly implemented QMS in place will help them meet their quality management goals.
Benefits of a QMS include better:
- Compliance: In quality management, processes like documentation, inspections and reporting help assure that products meet regulatory requirements and industry standards.
- Customer satisfaction: Feedback from customers is an integral part of any QMS, as it allows manufacturers to improve upon their products.
- Documentation: Critical quality management processes and goals need to be appropriately documented so that all those involved understand how to implement them.
- Quality management: Through ongoing and systematic assessments, quality management processes offer a means to evaluate whether a manufacturer is meeting its goals.
- Standardization: By defining organizational goals, a QMS helps align a manufacturer’s priorities and goals through all layers of the company.
By systematically helping to identify issues with quality and efficiency, a QMS provides the tools to assist manufacturers in better employing quality management processes. A QMS offers a formal means to resolve issues with production, helping to reduce waste, lower expenses and augment performance. It also assists workers throughout a shop in understanding quality issues so that everyone involved in production is on the same page.
How the Quality Management Process Helps with Metal Finishing
The foundation of any QMS is consistency. Finishing techniques are largely standardized so that parts can be made efficiently and of the highest quality. Management processes that involve a QMS concentrate on the repeatability of the activity to make certain that batches vary only within the tolerances specified by the product designer. If manufacturers are receiving some batches of parts that meet specifications while others don’t meet them, it’s time to look at the company’s quality management processes. A QMS isn’t designed to punish, however, but rather to improve the quality of their work.
The quality management process should implement the following:
- Cost controls: A metal finishing shop might deliver the finest finished products in the world. Yet if no one can afford them due to their high cost they’re of very little worth. Cutting costs need not involve cutting corners, however, so it’s important that finishing services maintain high standards.
- Technology: Like other sectors, the metal finishing industry hasn’t sat still when it comes to technological innovations. These days, metal can be coil-coated or pre-painted prior to fabrication to provide a more durable finish, with some coatings that can even repel or retain water. Another technology involves nanotech coatings that offer incredible abrasion resistance. Meanwhile, graphene plating provides resistance to corrosion, chemicals and heat, while additionally granting components enhanced electrical and heat conductivity. Additionally, other technologies are enabling better accuracy while also speeding production, including advanced software solutions, automation and robotics.
- Testing: Every type of metal finishing process requires testing so that rigorous standards can be verified. Testing may be done for adhesion, coating thickness, electrical resistance, humidity, solvent resistance and surface roughness, among many types of metal finishing. Through testing, processes can also be evaluated and modified if necessary.
- Timely delivery: Though this may not seem as important as other quality issues, manufacturers rely on receiving product components in a timely manner to keep production going. Logistics therefore is a vital part of quality management. Processes like just-in-time or next-day shipping guarantee timely delivery of components so as not to disrupt production.
- Training: Though mechanization is common across the metal finishing sector, humans are still needed to maintain quality. Management processes should include hiring the most competent person for a position while training them to use the tools necessary to produce an exceptional product.
- Waste reduction: Regulations concerning waste are becoming stricter, which means a modern metal finishing shop needs to consider this in its quality management. Processes should be put in place to reduce waste regardless of the finishing method. This in turn lowers production costs, benefiting customers with decreased pricing.
A key attribute of any QMS involves a continuous drive to improve these and other aspects of production. This isn’t just about benefiting customers, but also about keeping at or ahead of competitors. Each clever cost-saving measure adds up, so pursuing efficiency just makes good business sense.
RP Abrasives: Our Quality Management Process for Metal Finishing
RP Abrasives is a metal finishing shop based in New Hampshire that uses a QMS that covers the entire gamut of the metal finishing process, from first contact to final delivery. With a QMS based on the ISO 9001:2015 standard, RPA provides top-notch metal finishing services accompanied by excellent quality management. Processes of metal finishing work best when there’s a partnership between a manufacturer and vendor, which is why RP Abrasives seeks to meet or exceed requirements regarding the company’s work.
Metal finishing services RP Abrasives offers include:
- bead blasting
- buffing and polishing
- high energy tumbling
- light assembly
- mechanical surface finishing
- microscopic deburring
- microscopic inspection
- Roughness testing
- vibratory tumbling
RPA has been committed to retaining its ISO certification. The company has been audited by Perry Johnson Registrars, with a current QMS accreditation by ANAB in the United States and UKAS Management Systems in the United Kingdom. For more information on our quality management processes regarding our metal finishing services, contact the finishing experts at RPA.