Blog Posts

The Role of Quality Teams in Manufacturing

7 October 2020

When it comes to manufacturing, one typically thinks about the processes implemented, the machines that are used, and the final products that are made. One of the most important steps in manufacturing any product is quality control—ensuring the final product meets quality standards and specifications, whether those standards are put forth by the industry, government or regulatory bodies, or the organization itself. Essential compliance for Toray Advanced Composites are the AS9100D quality management system for aviation, space, and defense organizations, and its foundation standard ISO 9001:2015.

The role of the Quality department in any manufacturing organization is varied and its impact reaches all other departments related to the product—expert services, research & development, and even sales and marketing teams. Quality is involved in the entire end-to-end process, from incoming raw materials to the delivered finished goods.

We interviewed our colleagues from our US and European plants to get their insight.

Image L-R:

Erna van der Weide, Team Leader Quality Assurance at Toray Advanced Composites, Njiverdal, Netherlands

Claire Wright [joined by Alfie], Quality & Environmental Manager at Toray Advanced Composites, Langley Mill, UK

Paul Adams, Director of Quality at Toray Advanced Composites, Morgan Hill, USA


“Quality are the facilitators—we support all departments to ensure they have the correct processes in place so that the customer gets the right product to a high standard every time,” says Claire Wright, Quality & Environmental Manager at Toray Advanced Composites, Langley Mill, UK.

To make this possible, Quality is responsible for managing an up-to-date quality management system, which includes items such as internal and external audits, information on nonconformities, up-to-date and effective availability of standard operating procedures, translation of customer specifications into internal procedures or instructions, and much more.

What does a typical day look like for Quality teams at Toray Advanced Composites? “No two days are ever the same!” exclaims Miss Wright. For the US, UK, and Netherlands Quality teams, daily team meetings are the norm to ensuring all testing is completed on schedule. Multiple inspections, tests and data analysis to ensure products meet the highest standards are a daily occurrence. Answering customer questions is also a high priority. Throughout the day, Quality teams interface with other departments to ensure everyone is on the same page—whether it's about the upcoming audit, changes in customer specifications, or instances of nonconformance and changes in production timelines.

“Even though a lot of direct engagement with customers are in instances when things go wrong, we also facilitate the right conversations with customers on selecting the right project requirements and product specifications to help them save time and money,” says Paul Adams, Director of Quality at Toray Advanced Composites, Morgan Hill, CA, USA.

After all, customers are the most important stakeholder for any manufacturing organization. A good relationship with the customer is important—the voice of the customer must be heard—especially in instances where Quality teams are working to understand and resolve non-conformances and facilitating customer audits.

“If there is a nonconformity, we work to maintain open avenues of communication with the customer to come to a solution. The goal is to make sure the customer is satisfied and their needs are met in a timely fashion,” summarizes Erna van der Weide, Team Leader Quality Assurance at Toray Advanced Composites, Njiverdal, Netherlands.

With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, Quality teams everywhere have had to audit existing systems to ensure that they are robust enough to deal with the “new normal” way of working—whether that’s increased space requirements needed for workers to be able to socially distance or contingency plans put in place in the event of a government-mandated shutdown. Even though working conditions and global business processes are ever-changing, one thing remains constant: the goal is to deliver a quality product that meets customer specifications every time.

As Mr. Adams puts it, “virtually anyone can manufacture materials; it is another thing to ‘prove’ that these materials are high-quality and will meet a customer’s need.”

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