Quality is a strong value at Alpha Manufacturing and in this article our Quality Manager Ben Austin explains some of the critical steps that differentiate our output and deliver on our world-class promise.
“Our quality promise starts by having a deep understanding of our customers’ requirements, ensuring we can meet their specifications. This early part of the process is a fantastic illustration of the collaborative nature of our business, not only from the customer perspective, but in terms of how we manage the customer relationship internally. We work closely with the New Product Introduction team to ensure that from the get-go we are influencing the quality of the eventual output. We operate to the strict tolerances of ISO 9001:2015 which guides every aspect of how we run our operations but also demonstrates the world-class standards that we are consistently achieving. Our quality management system (QMS) influences every aspect of our entire production process and is ingrained within the DNA of our business.”
Ben and the quality team work closely with the procurement team and have a stringent list of requirements all suppliers must meet before they make it onto the Alpha Manufacturing Approved Supplier list, Ben explains more: “Once we have agreed supply of a product, we then look at procurement of raw materials. We firstly go to our approved suppliers, however, in the outcome of a new supplier requirement, they need to pass our stringent supplier selection and evaluation process to ensure they meet our own exacting standards. Both existing and new suppliers are controlled and monitored through our QMS – this is a critical part of the process.”
The production phase is a critical point for the quality team as Ben is keen to explain: “All products are subject to inline inspection procedures which include first off and last off checks, or FOLOs as we like to call them. Alongside FOLOs we also carry out random batch sampling of products to ensure that the product is achieving the same consistent output. For specific products or processes that require greater focus or assistance for the operator, we can produce quality alerts or SOP’s (standard operating procedures). These cover a multitude of areas including critical dimensions or features for inspection, previous quality concerns, full assembly instructions or even a simple packing instruction to ensure customers receive their products exactly as they demand them.
“To assist in the inspection of more complex products we have our CMM arm (coordinate measurement machine) which uses CAD software to easily and precisely produce dimensional reports. We have a complex, multi-layered approach to quality reporting, which is designed, ultimately, to give the customer absolute satisfaction in our output. We love an acronym in quality management, so upon request we can produce inspection reports such as PPAP’s (Production Part Approval Process), ISIR’s (Initial Sample Inspection Report) and FAIR’s (First Article Reports). These are becoming a much more common requirement from our customers. It enables us to verify that products are produced and supplied within the tight tolerances as specified by the customer. Alongside these we also produce PFMEA’s (Process Failure Mode and Effects Analysis) and process control plans. These highlight any potential risks within the production processes and ensure that we have sufficient controls in place to eliminate potential risks. These crucial steps in the quality process help to instil a level of confidence with the customer that their products will be supplied to the correct specification every single time.”
Throughout the entire production process the needs of the customer remain central to every decision made, as Ben is keen to conclude: “One of the most important points to make is the importance of the working relationship with the customer. A strong customer relationship allows us to work closely on VAVE (Value Analysis Value Engineering) projects and is heavily reliant on a strong cross-functional team within the business. The strength and depth of our design, production and operational capability is an absolute guarantee of a world-class output every single time, maximising our engineering efficiencies throughout the manufacturing process and resulting in a quality, value-led product.”