Quality management is the basis for process optimisation
In quality management (QM), all logistics processes are quality-tested and documented. The purpose of QM is to improve process quality and thus increase customer, partner and employee satisfaction. Reliability, on-time delivery, transparent communication and agility are key success drivers, particularly for logistics companies. Reliable quality management is essential to ensure continuous improvement of these processes and immediate detection of errors and deficiencies. Quality management systems help companies achieve this goal.
ISO standards for quality management in logistics
ISO standards for quality management systems have evolved over time, imposing requirements on various processes. Companies that meet these standards can obtain ISO certifications. The most important standards in logistics include ISO 9001 (quality management), ISO 39001 (road traffic safety management), ISO 14001 (environmental management) and ISO 22301 (business continuity management).
Application of quality management
In the warehouse, incorrect picking, inadequate packaging, misplacement and packing errors produce quality problems over the long term. If these errors occur frequently, quality managers intervene and develop improvement processes. In other words, they define concrete measures to take, such as adopting new IT systems, re-engineering workflows or refining digital processes. The processes are then re-checked after a defined period of time to see whether the changes have produced the desired outcome.
Here is an example: A responsible quality manager attributes the company's high return rate to an increase in picking errors. Picking employees use paper lists to pack ordered goods into the appropriate boxes. This process frequently yields errors since many articles are very similar. To reduce the error rate, the company switches to an electronic system. Employees receive an order to fill on their electronic device and scan each item that they pack into the designated box. If the wrong item is scanned, the system issues an alert and refuses to proceed until the order is packed correctly. After two months, the quality manager reviews the returns rate and sees that it has improved many times over.
Role of KPIs in quality management
KPIs (key performance indicators) are the foundation of successful quality management. Quality metrics have to be defined and targeted in order to improve processes. In a quality check, actual results are checked against the KPIs and compared to previous results. This will ideally indicate exactly where the problems and issues lie so that appropriate action can be defined and taken.