Improving efficiency with digital audits
We get questions from our clients about very specific challenges all the time. Recently, a customer asked us to have a chat with their quality manager. He had been doing one audit after the other and saw very clear areas of improvement, but just couldn’t seem to do anything about it. What to do?
Performing audits from hard copy is a labour-intensive task. This goes for the audit itself as well as the process of monitoring any resulting issues. Think about it: looking up the audit form on a computer, printing it, grabbing a pen and heading into the factory. Checking all the boxes, using the pen to mark any issues. Taking a photo where necessary, with your phone. And that’s just the beginning.
Once the audit is completed, findings need to be processed. Usually, this requires the auditor to manually copy their findings, often into Excel, and upload photos from their phone to the computer in order to paste them into Excel as well. And then there is a report to be drafted. Usually, the Production Lead or Quality Manager will receive a full report and the auditor will assign a number of individual actions to several people.
If an auditor found a pallet in an unsafe location for instance, they will notify the Shift Leaders, e.g. via email, to make sure this doesn’t happen again. As you can imagine, the lead time of this process is quite lengthy; by the time the notification reaches its recipient, the problem may have even (temporarily) disappeared. Plus, it is very difficult for the auditor to keep an overview of all pending actions. The result: slow follow-up, tensions back and forth (‘I already sent you that!’ ‘When?’) and an auditor who is forced to focus on administration rather than actual improvements. Always one step too late, like a messenger galloping to a neighbouring country with a scroll of parchment to read a declaration of war, for a battle that was fought days ago.
Time-consuming paper trail
This problem is far from unique. Paper-based processes are a nuisance, especially in audits. Firstly, because information from several sources needs to be manually entered into an overview, which is time consuming and prone to error. Secondly, because the overview needs to be manually sent to several people, with a different message each time. And thirdly, because those people need to report back in the same individual and manual way. The auditor never really stands a chance.
We recommend to digitise audits in addition to work instructions. The EZ-GO platform offers excellent audit functionality and easy audit digitisation to boot. A medium-sized company will get it all done in a matter of days.
Chilled-out audits with result
Working with audits becomes easy as pie. The audits are scheduled in advance so the auditor is spared the step of looking up which one is next. They simply sign into the iPad and the correct audit appears on screen as they enter the factory. They do their round, tick all the boxes on the iPad, and take photos that are automatically added to the relevant item. They create the necessary action and assign it to the right people, including an end date. The action item appears on screen as soon as the recipient signs in. The entire audit is completed in the space of thirty minutes, and short of monitoring whether the issues are being resolved, the auditor’s job is done. And even then, the system lends a helping hand by sending an alert if an action wasn’t completed in time. In addition, multiple people can be involved in the action and informed simultaneously. This makes collaboration a lot easier, solutions much more structural in nature, and it ensures that everyone is kept in the loop at all times. Digital audits take less time and issues are resolved more swiftly and more effectively.
Improved productivity, quality and safety
Approaching audits in this way significantly improves productivity. Digital audits save time, freeing up the auditor’s schedule for other things. But it also benefits the operational efficiency of your processes due to continuous process improvement. Though it is difficult to isolate the exact gains, there will be no doubt that efficiency has improved.
Then there is enhanced safety and product quality, which is at least as important as the above. After all, those audits are intended to check every aspect of the process, make sure everything is in order and reveal any improvement opportunities: safer, better or more efficient. The better you record, execute and follow up on audits, the more useful the audits will be.
Luckily, we don’t have to deploy horseback couriers to convey a message anymore: there are much better and faster modes of communication. So, why still depend on hard copy for your audits?
Interested in all the benefits of the EZ-GO platform? Contact us for a demo.