Quality control is the make-or-break function in precision machining. Swiss Precision Machining’s quality control team is responsible for ensuring that our customers get exactly what they want. Quality control is a way of life here and something that we are very passionate about. We took a few minutes to talk with Gabriela Baker, quality control expert at SPM, to get her take on our relentless pursuit of perfection.
Can you tell me a little bit about your role and responsibilities at SPM?
I am the lead in the Quality Control Department. I do the regular inspections and answer any questions my team has about our work. My favorite part is everything I do.
How did you get started in a quality control career? What do you find most satisfying about it?
I started with a job checking the calibration of blood pressure machines in 1997. I was there for four years and then came to Swiss Precision Machining. I’ve been here 16 years. The work is not the same thing on a daily basis. There is something new and different every day. It’s so fast-paced that it’s nuts and so it’s never boring. It’s nonstop and constant and I love that.
What does quality control mean at SPM?
Everything starts with getting the setup done correctly. First we establish the acceptance quality level (AQL). Then we do a visual inspection and then the parts go to finishing. We use proven methods for checking and inspecting and we excel at every stage in the process. We use the strengths of our individual team members to make sure that our parts are perfect when our customers receive them.
What is the SPM quality control department best at?
Everybody here is really good at their job and so unique at what they do. As a team, we have an all around excellence in each aspect of quality control. That said, we especially excel at measurement and visual inspection.
What are the biggest challenges you face in quality control?
We have several customers who are C=0. Zero acceptance sampling is a standard that means there can be no errors. Everything we do has to be absolutely perfect because if they find even one defect, they ship everything back.
Is there a certain quality control mindset?
Yes. The best quality control people are excited by a challenge and love to be very good at what they do. Curiosity is a big thing. The best QC people are intrigued with their work and come to work every day ready to learn. They are also patient and have the ability to do repetitive things on a daily basis. They need to have a really good eye for detail and love perfection.
What is the role of data in your quality control process?
We use statistical tools like process capability index (Cpk) and statistical process control (SPC). Using these tools, we monitor every part that’s produced on the floor to make sure it is within range of where it’s supposed to be. We use sophisticated software to monitor quality. We enter critical points and the sample size and the program generates the data we need to make sure that our process is controlled. If it’s out of range, we make the corrections we need so that our parts are within accepted tolerances.
What recent trends in quality control are you paying attention to?
We are closely following advances in equipment that will make us more efficient and reduce human error. We’re automating things like inspections and part handling. For example, we recently invested in a machine that is able to inspect multiple parts, check groove diameters, and make sure that the part is in spec. After that it’s dropped into a pre-labeled bag and heat sealed before being shipped to the customer. There’s no human interaction and no possibility of error. We’re working to eliminate mistakes that can be caused by human error.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about quality control?
It’s a really unique job. Each day is different with new challenges that require you to learn new things. Every day something comes up that makes us better.