Quality 4.0: Quality's Digital Transformation

We're in the midst of the “fourth industrial revolution,” or Industry 4.0 where computers and automation are bringing manufacturing into the 21st century. Rapid advances in technology are transforming the way we interact, connect, and analyze information to achieve operational efficiency and increase productivity.

The shift to real-time access to data, as well as the marriage of digital and physical technologies, has enabled companies to become more responsive, proactive, and productive. Multi-tenant cloud applications, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and big data analytics are just a few of the many technologies driving Industry 4.0.

This new chapter of the industrial revolution is changing entire economies, organizations, and industries. And at forward-thinking companies, this change is finally reaching all facets of quality management.

But what is Quality 4.0?

At its most basic, Quality 4.0 means companies are adopting new digital tools to improve their operational efficiency and product quality. Just like Amazon has made it faster and easier to buy almost anything you want, from any device, the best Quality 4.0 technologies are simplifying and speeding up manufacturing quality without compromising compliance or security.

Quality 4.0 is the digitalization of quality processes and content while improving upon traditional quality methods. For example, until last year, Proctor & Gamble subsidiary New Chapter conducted change controls with a mix of paper files, faxes, and emails. Today, they use Vault QualityOne, a secure cloud-based quality management application for their quality processes and content. The change control process that once took months now only takes a few days and is fully audit-ready.

Innovative companies across regulated manufacturing - from consumer goods to cosmetics, to chemicals - are embracing cloud-based Quality 4.0 technologies. And by digitizing and connecting their operational data, they are proactively managing risk by addressing any quality issues even before they arise, as well as conducting real-time quality analysis to increase productivity and make better use of resources.

[See How Cloud Technology Can Transform Quality Management in Organizations]

Quality 4.0 is also extremely important to company culture and collaboration. New technology enables organizations to engage on a more immediate and personal level with their suppliers and customers. And given that most companies nowadays outsource a significant part of their manufacturing to external vendors and CMOs, it is vital that modern companies have close collaboration and open communication with their vendors. Whether it’s through real-time collaboration, customer engagement, or streamlined reporting, companies can build stronger relationships through technology, which contribute to better quality and reduced risk.

Barriers to Adoption of Quality 4.0

Despite its many benefits, adoption of  Quality 4.0 principles has been slow. According to a report by LNS Research, digital transformation in the quality space has only been adopted by 65 percent of leading manufacturers. Many quality leaders haven’t been involved in developing the strategy for Industry 4.0 and see technology initiatives as outside their scope of work.

With quality professionals busy managing processes, ensuring compliance, and responding to daily quality events, it’s no surprise that adoption of Quality 4.0 is being led by IT professionals, operations teams, R&D, and marketing.

But to truly achieve Quality 4.0, quality leaders must  be engaged and have a voice in quality’s digital transformation. Their knowledge of how the quality system is intertwined with the business will ensure technology that promotes quality across the organization.  

The days of Quality sitting in the back seat of digital transformation needs to end. It’s time for Quality to get in the front seat next to IT and drive to success together.

Join us as we explore quality’s digital transformation at the 2018 Veeva Quality Summit. 

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