Why Precision Engineering and Quality Control Matter

October 17, 2017 | Lean Manufacturing, Robotic Manufacturing, American Manufacturing

When a margin of error is small, precision is a must. Welcome to precision engineering! This discipline was created to ensure products within the aerospace, automotive, and other industries are designed to the highest quality standards. This creates a better, safer product that’s more reliable and longer-lasting. 

At Marlin Steel, we work with some of the most prestigious companies in the world – companies with deep reservoirs of intellectual property who demand consistency and quality. 25% of our team are mechanical engineers who go through a detailed QA checklist when inspecting the parts we make to ensure absolute perfection.

What is Precision Engineering?

Precision engineering is a sub-discipline of electrical engineering, software engineering, electronics engineering, mechanical engineering, and optical engineering. It provides a better, longer lifespan of products and parts compared to manually manufactured items as it eliminates a lot of human error. The discipline’s main concern is to design machines, fixtures, and other structures that:

  • Have low tolerances, meaning the total amount the specific dimension of any part can vary is exceptionally small. 
  • Are repeatable, meaning attempts to produce the same product outcome are consistent and accurate under the same conditions every time.
  • Are stable over time, meaning parts and products tolerate a wide range of temperatures and other environmental impacts without requiring a lot of maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO).1: Prompt Communication

Why Does Quality Control Matter?

It’s easy to tout a product as “high quality” or “superior quality.” But what does that really mean? It’s important, when dealing with precision engineering, that quality is well-defined. Quality control professionals will typically look at quality in terms of the following characteristics. 

Products Provide What Customers Want

By meeting or exceeding customer expectations through the production of consistently well-designed and reliable products, customer satisfaction increases. This, in turn, boosts revenue and goodwill for the producer. On the other hand, not embracing quality control can lead to lost revenue, brand damage, and even potential lawsuits.

Designs Are Error-Free

Products or services that make it to the marketplace but yet are deficient in some way can lead to costly recalls, brand damage, customer dissatisfaction, and potential lawsuits. With a strong quality control process, defects can be identified at an earlier stage and corrected before they’re in the hands of customers.

Continuous Improvement is a Cornerstone

Continuous improvement, or CI, is all about making sure that only the best products are put out, time and time again. This doesn’t mean simply correcting errors when they’re discovered, though that’s a part of it. It also means looking at the root cause of the problem in order to increase efficiency, minimize costly rework activities, reduce recalls, and build a Culture of Quality. Studies have shown that every $1 invested in quality produces $16 in cost reduction and a $3 increase in profit.

How Is Quality Control Conducted?

You may have heard quality referred to in terms of a company’s Quality Management System (QMS). It may sound like software, however, QMS is the underlying quality process architecture that an organization is built upon. So, QMS is not referring to a specific machine, rather it involves all the people, processes, stakeholders, and technologies that are involved in an organization’s Culture of Quality. 

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines quality as “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills a requirement (a need or expectation that is stated, generally implied, or obligatory).” Examples of requirements include:

  • Customer specifications such as reliability, availability, accuracy, and delivery dates
  • Value for goods and services purchased such as ROI and productivity gains.
  • Statutory requirements such as the Food Safety Modernization Act, FDA code of federal regulations, the Occupational Health & Safety Act, and more.

In short, quality is not a discipline, as precision engineering is. Quality is about everyone, and everything, working together in a continuous race to be the best. And, there is no finish line.

At Marlin Steel, we are proud to serve customers across the globe with high-quality custom metal forms that meet tight production tolerances consistently and as quickly as possible. To this end, Marlin Steel has enacted several QMS practices of our own to keep improving and bettering our internal processes to our customers’ benefit.

From production lot traveler checklists, to defect reports, to comprehensive training programs and support for employees, Marlin constantly works to ensure that its processes, skills, and equipment are able to provide quality above and beyond the recommended minimum.

Top 5 QMS Practices at Marlin Steel

Quality products can still be designed quickly. And that’s what Marlin Steel does. Here’s a look at the QMS processes we follow to deliver a consistently high-quality product to our customers. Read more about Marlin Steel quality here.

1. Production Lot Traveler (PLT) Checklists

Marlin Steel’s team follows a Production Lot Traveler, or PLT, which highlights every step of production for every custom wire form or sheet metal product we make. Each step must be checked off before moving on to the next to ensure our levels of quality.

2. Defect Reporting

Even in the best manufacturing process, there’s bound to be a defect eventually. Marlin Steel’s team uses a special defect report (DR) to record any findings and note why they may have occurred, the purchase order, work, lot, and customer numbers, next steps, and date of defect, fix, and second inspection. This keeps everything traceable and identifies errors early on.

Between Marlin’s PLT and DR documents, the production team has maintained an amazing quality control standard, with over 99.5% of parts meeting or exceeding customer standards.

3. Ongoing Training

Marlin Steel dedicates 5% of the budget to provide training for employees. This allows employees to have access to advanced skills training when they need it so they can learn how to use new equipment or work different processes. This ensures that Marlin has skilled employees to operate automated manufacturing equipment at full capacity and quality at all times.

4. Precision Engineering

Using advanced factory automation equipment, Marlin Steel is able to produce consistently precise, high-quality metal forms with speed and ease. Unlike manual laborers, robots don’t get tired or bored and can work from dusk till dawn with the same speed, efficiency, and accuracy on every part they make.

Our machines help Marlin’s production team meet incredibly demanding parts tolerances on a tight schedule. By using the right machine for each operation, Marlin can help ensure top-of-the-line quality for each custom metal form to pass through the manufacturing plant.

5. Prioritizing Safety

Marlin’s safety practices are top-quality too. We care about the well-being of our employees as an OSHA-certified SHARP designee, and this safe, reliable working environment helps produce consistent quality products.

Working with Precision Engineering Companies

When you choose a precision engineering company, you should expect each of the following:

1: Prompt Communication. When you have questions, they should have answers.

2: Accepting Feedback. Some of the best ideas can come from external sources. If you have ideas or feedback, you want a company that will listen.

3: Quality Commitment. Again, a QMS is not software, but the people, processes, stakeholders, and technologies that are involved in an organization’s Culture of Quality. You want to be sure you’re on board with a company that cares about QMS.

4: Expedient Manufacturing. Precise engineering doesn’t have to be slow. Today’s technologies can deliver the highest-quality products, in the shortest amount of time to meet your deadlines.

Choosing Marlin Steel

When it comes to your needs, you shouldn't have to choose less than the best. At Marlin Steel, our team is dedicated to “quality engineered quick.” Thanks to many of our practices, we’re ISO 9001:2015 certified. However, our dedication to quality doesn’t stop at merely meeting the minimum standards of the ISO certification.

Every Marlin Steel employee is empowered to find new ways to improve the quality control process and design process. Whether it’s by increasing granularity of documentation, improving the speed of production, reducing the occurrence of parts rejections, or by finding new ways to overcome specific production challenges, our team gets it done. Our goal is to give you the best product, at the best price, with the best in customer service. Contact us today to learn more.

Call to Action Button for the Engineer's Guide to Mobile Carts