What makes up a great Quality Assurance Program? As you’ll recall, I listed 9 essential components for good QA in an article last year, “How Does a Fabricator Gain From a 3rd Party Audit?”. It’s no surprise that each one is rooted in the personal, on-site interaction that is the foundation of an audit. As we review the points in that article, let’s highlight and make notes as to the items that would be difficult if not impossible using a remote review.
- Validation. An audit provides verification of compliance to ANSI/TPI and OSHA regulations and guidelines.
— Remote review only sees what the camera looks at. It’s directed by the person holding the camera. How can this be construed as independent?
- Perspective. The inspection brings another set of eyes on your operations from a person with a broad perspective. The auditor has an advantage that is improved with compliance audits experience in multiple environments and styles.
— This expert is no longer at your plant facility. The eyes looking are guided by the prism of the camera and clouded by the pixelated video or photographs.
- Risk control. The process can detect potential issues or problems that can escalate and lead to losses for the component manufacturer.
— The only problems detected will be the ones in the view finder. The remote review only analyzes data that is collected.
- Objectivity. An auditor’s basis is a standard of quality. It is a series of best practices that are shared among the auditor’s group of clienteles. This sharing strengthens each individual’s quality program.
— In the remote review, everyone’s data is collected, compiled, and homogenized by a computer program to create an exact model. By definition, it will lack objectivity and impartiality.
- Knowledge base. An auditor’s knowledge of the codes and requirements are to a level of detail that is not reasonably obtainable for a component manufacturing manager.
— While this may also be true with remote review, it lacks the relationship of auditor and client. It’s like that college level CHEM101 class with 350 other students. You were kind of on your own.
- Uniqueness. Audits are inherently unique to each plant and personnel. They are specific to the plant’s safety and quality program.
— Computerized, homogenized, remote audits are anything but unique. You will be treated just like everyone else. The ability to judge the quality culture of the organization will be nonexistent.
- Accuracy. Due to its objective position, the results of a third-party audit often provide a more accurate view of what is occurring within a plant environment.
— In the past, I often was asked to review remote auditing and the reports they generated. The reports were generic in nature and came to many conclusions that were totally false or misinterpreted.
- Graded results. While initial results often show lower audit scores, many fabricators realize that the results and evaluation can uncover long-standing issues of non-compliance and opportunities for loss that can be immediately fixed, thereby leading to a positive ROI for the audit program.
— With the traditional site audit by the 3rd party inspector, these reports were comparisons of the client’s results. Putting this data up in the ionosphere leads to a whole other world of probabilities.
- Targeted. Audits conducted by third parties should not be taxing on time and labor resources. However, unlike an in-house quality review, a third-party auditor enters a location for the sole purpose of conducting the audit. They are not interrupted by the need to complete a job, conduct an employment interview, or deal with a customer situation.
— The new proposed remote audit will require a great deal more data and collected information. It will require specialized equipment that will be expensive to maintain and a substantial amount of upgrades and improvements before they are ready for general release.
As I stated then and will say again: More than just accreditation, your 3rd party should be a resource for continuous improvement, helping to identify opportunities, streamlining work and improving results, therefore reducing waste.
Consider this analogy: Is a trip to Megan’s Beach in St. Thomas the same as looking at some photographs and watching some videos? Neither would be your 3rd party quality assurance audit. They should be eyes on site.
Even now as we’ve added protection and social distancing measures, on-site and in-person audits remain the best way to attain all of the benefits of a good QA program.
An ANSI/TPI 1 3rd Party Quality Assurance Authorized Agent covering the Southeastern United States, Glenn Traylor is an independent consultant with almost four decades of experience in the structural building components industry. Glenn serves as a trainer-evaluator-auditor covering sales, design, PM, QA, customer service, and production elements of the truss industry. He also provides project management specifically pertaining to structural building components, including on-site inspections and ANSI/TPI 1 compliance assessments. Glenn provides new plant and retrofit designs, equipment evaluations, ROI, capacity analysis, and CPM analysis