Digitization has opened many new doors in quality management, from automating key processes through Artificial Intelligence (AI) to integrating customers and suppliers into a shared data environment. Companies that want to make their quality processes more efficient in order to remain competitive in the future ideally turn to the support of a smart data and document management system based on cloud SaaS.
Digitization as a driver of quality management
Companies today are faced with the challenge of constantly improving their quality standards, as these play a significant role in ensuring their competitiveness, customer loyalty, and thus long-term success. Especially in modern industry, quality management has become an indispensable factor in optimizing internal processes.
Digitization, as well as associated key factors such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the cloud, have become indispensable tools when it comes to improving processes and ensuring the quality of products and services.
The following developments will have a significant impact on quality management in the industrial sector in the future.
AI support for accurate predictions
Technologies based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) will increasingly support companies in automating complex processes. This comes with decisive advantages for quality management in particular. AI is used here to quickly analyze huge amounts of data and make accurate decisions based on the information gathered.
In quality assurance, AI uses special pattern recognition to identify defects quickly and reliably. If a defect is detected in the source material, it can predict defects in the end product, which in turn helps to avoid such errors. It also provides rapid support in specifying a defect.
With the help of these data-based predictions of product- and process-related quality in manufacturing, companies are moving ever closer to the goal of “predictive quality”. The use of computer-aided monitoring of all parameters in this context makes it possible to forecast any potential quality defects along the entire supply chain and to identify them even before they occur.
Cloud technologies for flexibility and scalability
The use of AI functions is not only very resource-intensive, it also generates increasingly large volumes of data. Companies are responding to this development by turning increasingly to cloud-based, technical data and document management systems (DMS) such as Approve on Fabasoft PROCECO. These are used both internally and along the entire supply and value chain, helping to make quality processes more efficient and flexible.
According to the IT consulting and market research company Gartner , the acceptance of cloud-based quality management systems in combination with Software as a Service (SaaS) continues to grow as providers increasingly incentivize cloud adoption and, at the same time, end users are becoming more open-minded.
The interconnection of all information through a cloud-based DMS ensures that all participants work with the latest version across the company – the keyword here is “single source of truth”. In addition, such a system serves as the basis for companies to continuously improve their quality management through the use of intelligent systems such as “Computer-Aided Quality” (CAQ) or “Predictive Quality”.
Companies are focusing increasingly on usability
Industrial companies are increasingly recognizing that the use of mobile devices and virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) technology is opening up new areas of application along the entire value chain and helping to optimize workflows in quality management. For this reason, many companies are increasingly focusing on usability in this area.
For example, detected deviations from contractually agreed quality characteristics can be recorded directly at the workplace (e.g. incoming goods warehouse) via mobile device or VR/AR device and provided with additional information. Thanks to team-oriented approaches such as the 8D problem-solving method, those in charge can immediately determine who is responsible for remediation. The assignment of necessary measures is then fully automated via a data and document management system and thus remains traceable at all times.
Interconnecting customers and suppliers
In the future, it will be important to integrate key customers and suppliers even more closely into the company's own processes. In this context, it is crucial that communication with external partners takes place via a regulated process and that the exchange of information is traceable at all times.
Ideally, companies integrate customers or suppliers directly into the quality management processes via a cloud-based data and document management system. In this case, the cloud acts as a shared data environment that makes relevant information available to all parties involved. This allows a supplier to process its tasks in the shared CAQ system and store the documents relating to corrective actions in an orderly manner, so that everyone involved in the process has access to them at all times.
Furthermore, companies are increasingly turning to low-code and no-code functions to enable specialist departments to adapt business processes on their own and thereby reduce their workload.
The future of quality management is digital
The digital transformation has triggered a fundamental shift in the industrial sector that is fundamentally changing the way quality management works. This is also reflected in current trends, ranging from increasing support from Artificial Intelligence to the increased use of cloud technologies. These developments open up completely new possibilities for improving quality standards.
Support is provided here by smart data and document management systems that efficiently manage all quality-relevant processes and ultimately ensure that companies remain competitive in the future.
 Gartner (2023): Market Guide for Quality Management System Software, published on April 11, 2023