The Who’s Who of your Quality Team [transcript]

Part of being an effective team member is knowing what the other teammates are responsible for doing. It’s important because we need to know who to ask or interface with at certain points in our design process. Today I want to introduce (or reintroduce) our quality friends right after this introduction.

Hello and welcome to Quality during Design, the place to use quality thinking to create products others love, for less. My name is Dianna. I’m a senior level quality professional and engineer with over 20 years of experience in manufacturing and design. Listen in and then join the conversation at qualityduringdesign.com.

I like cross functional teams, and by that I mean a team made up of different functions that go across the different silos of a business or a company. So, a cross functional team would have engineers but also marketing, field operations, supplier management, and all those other functions that eventually need to work together to be able to make a product launch successful. The other members of the cross functional team, who are outside of my immediate wheelhouse, provide valuable insight. They have a different viewpoint and a different perspective that really adds a lot of value to the project as a whole. The key, as a designer, is to knowing who is out there doing what type of work. Today, I want to reintroduce you to your quality team.

Different companies organize their personnel in different ways. A Quality Engineer in one company may be responsible for or performing slightly different analysis than a Quality Engineer in a different company. But there are some high-level similarities across the board. Today I’m going to be talking about these different quality functions from information that’s off of the ASQ.org. ASQ is a certification body that provides certificates for these quality functions. For designers, there are six quality folks that would be good for you to get to know: Quality Engineer, Reliability Engineer, Supplier Quality, Calibration Technician, Quality Technician, and Quality Inspector.

Let’s start from the top: Quality Engineer. If you’re in product design, you’re probably working closely with a Quality Engineer. A Quality Engineer understands quality evaluation and control. And they understand product, process, and service. They help develop quality control systems and have the ability to use metrology and statistical methods to diagnose and correct improper quality control practices. And they’re probably the ones that are making sure that the project is following and complying with the internal quality standards, SOPs, and work instructions. Quality Engineers might be the ones that are holding you accountable for making sure that technical design review gets on books. They also help set up test procedures and help you with test analysis and may help with inspection procedures.

A Reliability Engineer is a little bit different than a Quality Engineer in that they are focused on performance evaluation and being able to predict and improve your product or your systems’ safety, reliability, and maintainability. They help with prediction, estimation, failure mode and effects analysis…they help you develop a reliability test plan for your project. They help apply mathematical modeling to test results and can help with design and performance improvement. They also help with reliability program management over the entire product lifecycle.

A Supplier Quality Professional works within an organization’s supply chain and its suppliers to continuously improve performance of key system components. For example, increasing the lifecycle, reducing scrap, or improving repair processes. They implement process controls and help develop quality assurance plans. As a designer, you’re probably interfacing with the Supplier Quality Professional when you’re identifying new components for either existing suppliers, or you’re trying to identify or validate new suppliers.

A Calibration Technician is someone who is important in making sure that the test equipment that you’re using for your verification tests or validation tests are performing as indicated. They test and calibrate and maintain and repair all the test equipment for conformance to established standards. A Calibration Technician can help you identify equipment for test in your verification procedures and help you better understand the limits of performance of some of that test equipment.

A Quality Technician is someone who helps prepare inspection plans and instructions, select sampling plans and prepares procedures. They can help get you up and running when it comes to transfer to production. They can help you identify the best ways to inspect for a critical feature or critical part.

A Quality Inspector is someone who is working in the laboratory. Talking with a Quality Inspector could help give you insight on how to perform your test for your test method validation and also creating a protocol with acceptance criteria that makes sense and can be interpreted accurately.

My insight for today: learn who the quality folks are on your product development team. Within your organization, understand their realm of responsibilities and what they typically do. Engage them and get them involved at particular times during your product development because they have the skills and a unique viewpoint for us all to make products others love, for less.

Please visit this podcast blog and others at qualityduringdesign.com. Subscribe to the weekly newsletter to keep in touch. If you like this podcast or have a suggestion for an upcoming episode, let me know. You can find me at qualityduringdesign.com, on LinkedIn, or you could leave me a voicemail at 484-341-0238. This has been a production of Deeney Enterprises. Thanks for listening!

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