Success is a two sided coin.
One side leads to growth. However if you’re not careful, on the other side, the pressures of a larger output can compromise the quality of production.
When CustomFab USA first began in 1990, the company was just a handful of dedicated craftsmen tirelessly working from a garage. Today the company has matured into one of America’s leading soft goods manufacturer, with over 275 machine operators and a 77,000 sq ft manufacturing space in southern California.
So how did we continue to maintain the exceptional production standards we became famous for in the face of our blossoming business?
For us, it’s more than a word, but a dedicated team of ISO 9001 specialists whose sole task is to poke, prod, and inspect every order that goes through our production line. To give you a better understanding of what exactly that means, we conducted a brief interview with CustomFab USA’s QA Manager Brice Williams...
Tell us about your work experience before coming to CustomFab USA
I’ve worked for over 16 years as a Quality Assurance Manager. My experience ranges from being a certified aerospace weld inspector to running a quality department with over 30 inspectors in an ISO 9001 accredited manufacturing environment. Through the course of my career I’ve learned how to ensure orders satisfy the most demanding customer expectations and have gained experience with DCMA, FDA, GSA, AS9100 and NADCAP government contracts.
So what exactly is “Quality”?
Whether you’re producing a basic bag or a life saving medical device — quality is when everything, down to the smallest detail, is done right. Quality is not something that just happens, it’s something you achieve. When it comes to manufacturing soft goods, you achieve quality by first defining what it is that will make your customer satisfied and then aligning your team to work towards that goal.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned about quality and quality management?
Quality and Production don’t have to be like water and oil. Quality is a mindset; and if you and your team work towards meeting a production goal with the mindset that the goal isn’t achieved until all your products meet or exceed certain standards, then you can make the relationship between the two symbiotic. This helps to elevate the benchmark for your company’s reputation and add to its continued growth.
To what standard do you and your team inspect?
We base our inspections on the proven statistical results yielded by ANSI/ASQ Z1.4 standard, which allows us to attain a high level of confidence in the quality of any product that we manufacture. The standard calls for us to carefully consider potential risks and assign a suitable acceptance quality limit for any given product by labeling and ticketing everything from raw materials to packaged finished goods. Using this as a roadmap, we’re able to perform consistent and reliable sample inspections, which we track, measure and analyze.
As an additional supporting process, we have documented procedures for handling vendor supplied nonconforming materials, a Calibration Recall System to ensure only calibrated instruments are used to accept final products, and an assertive vendor selection and screening process.
Together all of these ISO 9001 and other types of systems give us a clear picture of production trends where upon we can segregate any defective materials and implement preventative actions or improvements.
The end result is that when a customer who knows what’s behind our process sees our Quality Control stamp, that customer can be confident their order is accurate since it’s passed our rigorous inspection.