We all know that quality management isn't a "set it and forget it system," but how do you actually make continuous improvement in quality management a reality in your life sciences company?
The principles of quality management have been well-defined and refined over centuries, but the path to continuous improvement isn't always as clear as the destination.
Let's look at some examples of continuous improvement in quality management that provide the inspiration that you need to take your company to the next level.
4 Examples of Continuous Improvement in Quality Management in Life Sciences Companies
It may seem a little daunting at first to create a cycle of continuous improvement in your company. If you're changing things constantly, how is anyone supposed to know what to do?
Most companies solve this problem by finding and implementing the smallest changes that will have the largest possible impact.
1. Command Medical Products Improves Process Efficiency by 50%
Command Medical Products is a medical device manufacturer in Florida. Their company focuses on producing disposable medical devices such as IV tubing, blood bags, IV bags, and catheters. They are responsible for all aspects of the product lifecycle — from design to packing.
They decided to improve quality in their production processes by implementing the Kaizen Method (or Toyota Way).
During their first Kaizen event, they focused on improving their process for producing tubing. Their initial processes involved many steps where the product would stop and form a batch that would await further processing.
They decided to focus on finding ways to reduce the batching cycles the tubing was going through as well as finding ways to speed up certain aspects of it — such as the drying time for adhesive.
The End Result:
- Reduction in Personnel: 5.5 people (↓50%)
- Reduction in WIP: 10,000 units (↓50%)
- Reduction in Lead Time: 1 week (↓50%)
- Reduction in Cure Time: 60 min (↓50%)
Related Reading: QMS Software: 7 Features That Save You Time, Money, and Resources
2. MEDRAD Cuts Record Errors by 26%
MEDRAD is a medical device manufacturer that was committed to devoting resources to maintain their paper trails needed for compliance. They poured both personnel and financial resources into meticulously maintaining each document in their manual record-keeping processes.
In 2004, they conducted routine floor audits and uncovered that up to 20% of all in-process device history (DHR) contained errors.
It's no surprise that this statistic captured the attention of company leaders. They quickly started following the company's IMAGES® Lean Six Sigma continuous improvement methodology.
This methodology focuses on reducing errors while also supporting growth and reducing manual effort. The acronym stands for:
- Identify the problem
- Measure the current state
- Analyze the root causes
- Generate potential solutions
- Experiment and then execute proven solutions
- Sustain improvements over time
MEDRAD determined that they needed to focus on utilizing technology to reduce human error, standardize and simplify DHR travelers, and implement systems that would help their people.
The End Result:
- There was an overall 26% reduction in error records.
- Within just six months, their error rate fell below 5%, and the project team achieved their goal.
- Within a year, the error rate was a mere 2.2%.
Related Reading: 13 Bottom Line-Boosting Benefits of a Quality Management System
3. Lauras International Improves Efficiency by 117%
Lauras International is a global provider of Improvement Support for manufacturing businesses. Their specialties include enhancing your rate of improvement and delivering surprising rates of return. Lauras focuses on helping businesses large and small implement rapid lean improvement programs that are genuinely stable.
One of their clients, a pharmaceutical and household goods manufacturer, worked with them over a period of four years to improve their operational efficiencies. They worked together on eight different sites in the East Asia region.
The End Result
- The minimum improvement in True Efficiency on their 53 different production lines was between 10% and 117% on a baseline.
- Multilingual support and parallel implementation helped to coordinate up to three sites simultaneously with all eight sites seeing improvements.
- Sustainability initiatives were put into place that emphasized support from the senior management and delivery from the shop floor.
4. Tefen Boosts KPIs by 15%
Tefen Management Consulting is a strategic consulting partner that works with life sciences companies. They focus on working with medical device, pharmaceutical, and biomedical companies across their value chains to transform sales, marketing, supply chain, quality, manufacturing, and R&D.
Tefen specializes in helping companies define new commercial and operational strategies and then working closely together with them to deliver major performance improvements.
In 2013-2014, a leading medical device company was facing some challenges related to their new product ramp-ups and a new operative production site. These challenges forced them to make a concentrated effort to improve their production and supply chain efficiency, quality, and delivery.
Tefen stepped in and went to work assessing and improving their company.
- Demand forecasting improved by 15%.
- Production efficiency improved by 15%.
- A culture of continuous improvement was implemented, and improvements continue to happen.
The Role of an Easy-to-Use QMS in Continuous Improvement in Quality Management
Continuous improvement in quality management isn't a once-and-done tactic. It's a mindset and day-to-day responsibility shift for everyone on your team — from the senior managers to the workroom floor.
Easy-to-use Enterprise Quality Management Systems (eQMS) can help you across almost all aspects of your new quality-centric company culture. They include features that help:
- Track and report on every change to every document from beginning to end.
- Use guided workflows to automate quality processes like change control and CAPA.
- Improve collaboration with streamlined in-software communications.
- Maintain FDA and ISO compliance with built-in best practices.
At Qualio, we're dedicated to helping life sciences companies with 5 to 500 employees. We want to see you succeed and bring your life-changing products to market quickly.
Schedule a Personalized Demo, and let's talk about your needs and how we can help.