Technological advancements in the last decade have given rise to a new industrial revolution: Industry 4.0. This revolution has been powered by disruptive technologies and their exponential growth, which have led to dramatic changes in the workforce and the markets that organisations serve. ‘Quality 4.0’ is a state of transformation that references the future of organisational excellence and quality within the context of Industry 4.0. It encompasses the practices that organisations can follow when embracing the trends of Industry 4.0. Quality 4.0 combines the capabilities of machine learning, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and big data with conventional systems of quality management for driving continuous process improvement and for improving overall business performance. Quality 4.0 does not only affect delivery processes internal to an organisation, but also the entire value chain from procurement to sales, including corporate enabler functions.
The building blocks of Quality 4.0 are people, process and technology. While agile and seamless processes of efficiency, security, safety and adaptability are required to achieve excellence, use of technology for automation and real-time decision making enhances the capabilities of these processes.
Apart from decreasing costs, reducing transaction time and eliminating manual errors, automation leads to streamlined communication and better accountability. The automated execution system of Quality 4.0 encompasses faster delivery, self-diagnostic and self-healing systems, optimised operating model and in-process quality enablement, thereby providing transformational results in quality.
Organisations can be expected to face some challenges in their quest to achieve excellence through Quality 4.0.
Some of the key success factors in the adoption of Quality 4.0 include:
Technologies that collectively contribute to Industry 4.0 have been nothing less than transformative. There is an opportunity to use those technologies to redefine the quality function according to the wider organisational strategy. Furthermore, an effective Quality 4.0 strategy would allow organisations to deal with long-standing quality issues that stem from problems such as ineffective communication, absence of cross-functional ownership, and disintegrated traditional management systems. Quality 4.0 provides organisations with an opportunity to reassess the root causes of existing obstacles and increase the probability of success. Enhanced transparency, automated operations and high-quality data-driven insights can be used to achieve a culture of excellence.
The budget emphasised the need for manufacturing sector to grow in double digits, possess core competency and cutting-edge technology to achieve India’s goal of USD5 trillion economy. This underscores the importance of quality and processes in ensuring the best-in-class system for manufacturing companies. Innovation and R&D as one of the six pillars of the budget proposal, can accelerate this quest for excellence in manufacturing. Innovation and quality are two sides of the same coin. Quality provides the needed structure for organisations to innovate and excel. A well-defined system grounded on principles of quality brings in consistency and predictability, essential for ensuring scale and stability of operations. With such a grounded system in place, innovation can take wings to propagate organisations to greater heights. INR50,000 crore fund for National Research Foundation (NRF) announced in the budget is aimed at further strengthening the overall research ecosystem, leading to a high-quality innovation in the country.