5 Quality Metrics You Should Be Tracking in Manufacturing

Aimee Lyttle July 20, 2023

Quality is crucial for success in today’s highly competitive business environment. Conversely, subpar output can prove disastrous for manufacturers. According to Quality Digest, the cost of poor quality (CoPQ) is estimated to range from 5% to a staggering 30% of gross sales in the manufacturing industry. Considering the size of modern manufacturing operations, this percentage can translate to significant financial losses, potentially reaching thousands or even millions of dollars.

To ensure a strong connection between organizational quality objectives and operational performance, it is crucial to establish a clear understanding. This is where metrics play a vital role. As the popular saying goes, “what gets measured, gets managed.” In this context, tracking customized Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) enables executives to effectively monitor, analyze, and optimize their operations with regards to quality.

1. Cost of Quality (CoQ)

The process of gauging and reporting the Cost of Quality (CoQ) is a critical component of effective manufacturing operations, as it allows manufacturers to quantify the financial implications of maintaining quality standards. The CoQ encompasses two key dimensions: costs associated with enhancing quality (investment) and costs that arise due to quality failure. These dimensions are commonly referred to as ‘control’ and ‘failure of control’, respectively.

Understanding and managing the CoQ provides valuable insights into the efficiency of your manufacturing processes, highlighting areas where improvements can be made to optimize costs while ensuring consistent production of high quality goods. It encapsulates four primary cost components that collectively define the total expenses an organization incurs in the name of quality:

2. Defect & Scrap Rates

Defect rates and scrap rates serve as important indicators of the quality and efficiency of manufacturing operations. They provide a lens through which to assess production performance, enabling companies to pinpoint areas for improvement and take action to enhance quality and reduce waste. 

Defect rates quantify the proportion of materials or products received or produced that fall short of the requisite quality standards. This is typically expressed as a percentage, providing an easily comprehensible measure of the prevalence of substandard units. One common metric utilized in this context is Defective Parts Per Million (DPPM). This metric offers a more granular view of defect rates, highlighting even minor deviations from quality standards. The DPPM is calculated by dividing the total number of defective parts by the overall number of parts, and then multiplying the result by 1,000,000. It provides a standardized measurement that facilitates comparisons across different production batches, products, or even industries.

Meanwhile, scrap rates signify the percentage of materials introduced into the production process that do not make it into the final product. This essentially equates to the total amount of scrapped material divided by the total quantity of material used in a product run. While it may seem ideal to strive for a scrap rate of zero, this is often unrealistic given the inherent variability and occasional unpredictability of manufacturing processes. Nonetheless, closely monitoring and managing scrap rates can yield valuable insights. 

By analyzing scrap rates, manufacturers can identify specific areas where problems may be occurring. This could be due to poor quality materials, inefficient processes, or equipment malfunctions. With this information at hand, companies can devise targeted strategies to address these issues, such as improving supplier selection, refining production techniques, or upgrading machinery.

3. Throughput

Considered as a cornerstone Key Performance Indicator (KPI) within the manufacturing sphere, the throughput metric quantifies the actual duration required for a product to navigate through the manufacturing pipeline – transitioning from raw materials and components to a finished, ready-for-market product. Throughput can be gauged across various levels, either encompassing the entirety of the manufacturing operation or focusing on individual machines or specific product lines. 

The formula to compute the time needed to produce goods is quite straightforward:

Throughput = Total Output / Total Time

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how you can calculate throughput in manufacturing:

  1. Identify your total output: This is the total number of units that your manufacturing process produces over a specific period. You could track this hourly, daily, weekly, or over any other period that makes sense for your operations. The key is to ensure you’re tracking all output units consistently.
  2. Identify the total time: This is the total amount of time over which the output was produced. Again, this could be an hour, a day, a week, etc., but it must correspond to the period you chose for measuring output.
  3. Divide the total output by the total time: The result of this calculation gives you the throughput – essentially the average rate of production for the chosen period. For example, if your manufacturing process produced 1,000 units over 10 hours, your throughput would be 100 units per hour.

Understanding and effectively managing your throughput rate can serve as a critical stepping stone towards maximizing profitability and attaining operational excellence. It offers insight into the efficiency of your production processes and can inform decision-making to optimize resources, reduce waste, and improve overall productivity.

4. Yield

Yield is a critical performance metric that enables the assessment of overall process or plant efficiency by tracking output within a designated time frame. Yield is typically measured in two primary ways, each offering a distinct perspective on production effectiveness:

  1. First-Pass Yield: This metric provides the percentage of products that meet the required quality standards on the first run-through without any need for rework. The First-Pass Yield Rate is calculated by dividing the number of quality units by the total units produced (First Pass Yield Rate = Quality Units / Total Units Produced). A high first-pass yield is indicative of efficient operations and robust quality assurance processes, reflecting a high level of initial product conformity to quality standards. It signifies fewer resources wasted on rectification and rework, implying cost savings and more timely deliveries. 
  2. Overall Yield: The Overall Yield, on the other hand, calculates the total percentage of products that eventually meet the quality standard, including those units that needed rework. This metric is computed similarly to the first-pass yield, but it considers the total output of goods that adhere to quality standards after any necessary adjustments or repairs.

Both these yield metrics hold significant value in measuring efficiency and quality within your manufacturing operations. They provide a comprehensive view of your production process, highlighting not just the initial quality but also the effectiveness of your rework processes. 

Typically, your overall yield is expected to be higher than your first-pass yield, as it includes the products that have been corrected and brought up to standard. However, a key objective should be to minimize the disparity between these two figures. By effectively monitoring both the first-pass and overall yield, you can develop strategies to narrow this gap. Reducing the difference means you are increasing your first-pass yield, leading to decreased rework, lower cost per unit, improved production cycle times, and ultimately enhanced operational efficiency and profitability.

5. Customer Satisfaction

Customer feedback provides a wealth of insight into your performance regarding quality, functioning as an invaluable tool for continual improvement. By scrutinizing individual complaints and detecting patterns of poor quality, you can illuminate areas that necessitate enhancement. By addressing these areas proactively, you can mitigate further dissatisfaction and bolster customer loyalty. 

Conversely, analyzing customer satisfaction metrics can highlight your strengths, allowing you to consolidate and build upon them. Such crucial metrics may include:

  1. Customer Churn Rate: This metric measures the rate at which customers stop doing business with you over a certain period. It can be calculated using the formula: (Customers at Beginning of Month – Customers at End of Month) / Customers at Beginning of Month. A lower churn rate generally implies higher customer satisfaction and better customer retention strategies. 
  2. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): This quantifies the total costs associated with acquiring a new customer. It can be computed as follows: Cost of Sales and Marketing / Number of New Customers. Monitoring CAC allows you to assess the efficiency of your marketing efforts and helps inform strategies for future customer acquisition.

Vigilantly monitoring both customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction is instrumental in preempting future issues. It provides a mechanism for continuous improvement and customer-centric decision making. Therefore, to minimize customer-related challenges, enhance quality where needed, and reduce overall costs, it’s crucial to track a number of key indicators:

  1. The number of complaints, faults, or returns within a specific period: This indicates the level of customer dissatisfaction and the quality of your products or services.
  2. The number of issues resolved during a specific period: This sheds light on your customer service efficiency and effectiveness.
  3. The average time taken to resolve customer complaints: This metric, often referred to as “average resolution time,” helps assess the responsiveness of your customer service.
  4. Warranty costs: These are the costs associated with servicing or replacing faulty products under warranty. High warranty costs may suggest quality control issues in the manufacturing process.

As we pass through the year and the manufacturing landscape continues to evolve, it’s crucial for businesses to monitor and optimize their KPIs to stay competitive in the market. By tracking and analyzing these key production metrics, manufacturers can uncover valuable insights that lead to improved efficiency, customer satisfaction, and of course, quality. Don’t miss the opportunity to leverage these essential KPIs to catapult your manufacturing performance and secure long-term success.

About AuditComply

AuditComply is a leading Quality Management platform that empowers manufacturers to achieve operational excellence. By transforming how manufacturers operate, our platform focuses on reducing rework, driving higher quality, and increasing throughput. Seamlessly integrating people, processes, and data, AuditComply provides the tools and insights needed to streamline operations, improve supply chain management, mitigate risk and ensure frontline workers are supported.

Similar Articles