Top 5: What we know to be true about success in quality

We’ve been following a recent discussion in ASQ’s LinkedIn Group talking about words of wisdom for those entering the quality field.  The majority of these posts have been quite positive and have us thinking about our own lessons learned over the years.

With almost three decades of experience, here’s what we know to be true about success in quality:

1) Continuous improvement is mandatory.  It’s a way of life.

“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.” ~Mark Twain

2) Persistance pays. 

“Never, never, never give up.” ~Winston Churchill

3) Know your stuff.  In quality, the gurus offer much wisdom and invaluable tools.  (Deming, Juran, Taguchi, Crosby, etc.)

“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.” ~ Confucius

4) Always have a plan.  

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we much vigorously act.  There is no other route to success .” ~Pablo Picasso

5) Stay positive. Stay focused on the long-term.

“Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will. POSITIVE thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.” ~Zig Ziglar

 

Inspecting textiles & garments

In our latest newsletter, we’re talking about inspecting textiles and garments and the specialized expertise required for this industry. Unlike wood, metal and other materials, textiles and garments have unique variables that may result in unexpected issues throughout the manufacturing and during the final inspection. As one of Pro QC’s textile inspectors noted, “it’s an art of using many variables to produce a piece of art.” A garment or fabric inspector must bear in mind these variables and conditions that can result in defects and delayed shipments.

Irene Gebrael, an inspector for Pro QC in the New York and New Jersey area, indicates the importance of an inspector’s specialization in this field is based on the following two considerations:

1) Credibility & Process Knowledge 

In fabrication, there are many defects that are caused by variables that may be due to ginning, spinning, finishing, dyeing, or might be due to a mistake in checking. To stand on the reason of the defect, an inspector must have prior knowledge of the processes for dyeing, finishing (fabrication), cutting, sewing (garment manufacturing), standards for care labels and regulatory compliances.

2) Inspection Conditions 

The factors causing confusion and misinterpretation of defects are numerous, so an inspector must have a solid understanding of the conditions for inspection, such as the lighting, the effect of rolling on fabrics, the effect of packaging on garments, etc. For example, some of the common problems that differentiate textiles from other products are shade and the effect of light on shades during an inspection. Inspectors must identify and use a good source of light to discover shade issues such as un-leveling and shade continuity.

Common defects noted during textile and/or garment inspections include:

-Defects in appearance, such as marks, fraying fabric or unfinished edges, etc.

-Defects with seams and stitching, including open seams, incorrect thread selection, skipped stitches, etc.

-Defects concerning color, such as dye spots and color fastness

-Defects concerning fabric, such as its material, fabric weight, cuts or tears, slubs or misweaves, etc.

-Defects concerning sizing, labeling and packaging, such as labels missing or top/bottom sizes are mismatched

-Defects concerning care label information, content label information, hang tag descriptions, correctness of components or trims, zip teeth smoothness, etc.

-Defects concerning measurement and fit

-Defects concerning safety, such as pins, needles and staples not being removed

Applicable standards are used, such as those listed below:

ASTM 5430-07 (Standard Test Methods for
Visually Inspecting and Grading Fabrics)

These test methods describe a procedure to establish a numerical designation for grading of fabrics from a visual inspection.

ASTM D3990-2012 (Standard Terminology Relating to Fabric Defects)

This terminology covers defects in both woven and knit fabrics.

ASTM D3775 (Standard Test Method for
Warp End Count and Filling Pick Count of Woven Fabric)

ASTM D3136 – 04(2008)e1: Standard Terminology Relating to Care Labeling for Apparel, Textile, Home Furnishing, and Leather Products 

This test method covers the measurement of warp end count and filling pick count and is applicable to all types of woven fabrics. The number of warp yarns (ends) per unit distance and filling yarns (picks) per unit distance are determined using suitable magnifying and counting devices or by raveling yarns from fabrics.

Evaluations, such as wash testing, can often be performed on-site.  For additional information regarding textile and garment inspections and/or testing, or to review example reports, contact us.

Which AQL do you choose?

One of the most frequent questions we receive regarding on-site quality inspections relates to selecting AQLs, or Acceptable Quality Levels.  AQLs represent the maximum percent defective that you consider acceptable.

Pro QC’s Assistant Operations Manager in China, Cesar Marsical, address the question below:

The selection of AQLs and sampling plan for a given lot size depends on too many factors to permit the issuance of a “pre-selected” standard set of plans for specified lots. Each user should select AQLs and sampling plans that are tailored to best meet their needs.  Pro QC can assist with this process.

Some of the factors that must be considered prior to selecting the AQLs are:

1) Classifications or categories of defects such as Critical, Major and Minor – Critical defects would generally require zero defects, which means the highest AQL value should be imposed.  Major defects would generally require a lower AQL than those for minor defects.

2) Process capabilities under good commercial practice with respect to the defects in question – For example, if under normal production process, the defect levels cannot be kept below 2.0 percent defective, the selection of an AQL of 0.15 percent defective, although desirable for the defects in question, may not be practical.

3) Consumer preferences – These may require higher AQL’s or permit lower AQL’s than process capabilities would indicate.

4) Time and cost required to sample and inspect a lot under various AQLs – The smaller the AQL, the more time and cost of inspection.

Some of the factors that may be considered prior to selecting the sampling plans for a given lot size includes:

1) The applicable AQLs – The AQL dictates, among other things, the smallest sample size that can be used and the size of the “jumps” from one sample size to the next larger one.

2) The relative ability of the plans to discriminate between “good” and “bad” lots. – Although several plans in these standards have the same AQL, they differ in their ability to reject lots worse than the AQL’s. The OC (Operating Characteristics) curve in the standards of this subpart provides the basis for determining the discriminating ability of each plan.

3) The amount, time, and cost of sampling required.

4) The size and value of the lots relative to the producer and consumer protection a sampling plan affords.  One may be willing to take larger risks of passing “bad” lots that are small or of lesser value than they would for larger more valuable lots.

5) The knowledge about the lot(s) to be submitted for inspection – Lots consisting of product produced under essentially the same conditions may require smaller sample size than those consisting of product produced by different shifts and different raw stocks for example.

6) The record of the quality level of previously submitted lots – The sample size can be smaller for lots submitted from a supplier with a consistent record of quality levels significantly better than the specified AQL(s) than sample sizes for the supplier whose records shows considerable variability in quality, “borderline” supplies or products worse than the AQL.

Based on the above, decide what quality levels you are willing to live with and what quality level that you are not willing to live with.

Contact us for more info, or assistance with this process.

 

Why inspect? What are the benefits?

This is one of the most frequent questions we receive, and it’s often a hot debate at quality industry events as well.

At the end of the day, inspecting product for quality prior to shipment does the following things:

  • Verifies that product specifications are being met and avoids unnecessary reengineering work later
  • Confirms important quantity verification
  • Checks packaging integrity to avoid costly damage during transit
  • Reduces overall quality risks and cost

I am unable to recall a client where the total cost of inspections wasn’t covered by one or more quality issues preventatively called out prior to shipment.  The benefits exceed the investment and are a valuable component to the overall quality assurance process.

For more information regarding Pro QC’s inspection services, visit our website.

7 QC Tools in 8 Minutes

Great presentation… Quick and easy way to learn about quality control, the benefits and the primary tools used in the industry.

  • Graphs
  • Check Sheets
  • Pareto Charts
  • Cause & Effect
  • Scatter Diagrams
  • Histograms
  • Control Charts

In addition, we discuss the benefits of quality control on our website .  We also talk quality tools in a few older blog posts.  And, we’ve written a few articles in our newsletter as well.