These characteristics encompass many concepts. These are freedom from error, forward planning, testing and production, and the expected occurrence. Quality also affects the company's structures: products and processes must have merit, and employees must have conditional qualifications to be allowed to work in a particular company.
In everyday life, "quality" is used as a synonym for "good." Many brands target their products with expressions such as "high quality" or "superior quality." Quality is much more than categorizing a product or a service with the word "good." Quality is all about making the best decisions for customers, employees, stakeholders, companies, and the working environment. In other terms, quality means maximizing productivity and minimizing costs and defects.
Quality is also associated with the word "culture," so that "culture of quality" has been increasing as a concept over the years. To the roots of "culture of quality" belongs the idea of "total quality management" (TQM), which involves the systematical implementation of the fundamental principles of quality into organizations. TQM is, therefore, the continual process of detecting, reducing, or eliminating errors in the field of manufacturing.
"Quality is defined as the totality of characteristics (and characteristic values) of a unit and presupposed requirements to be fulfilled"
Thus, "quality" refers to the quality of production processes and employees' and organizations' qualifications. Quick, good, cheap: these are the fundamentals of quality. Quality also needs to be traceable: when we can assure that the processes are in control, we speak of "quality control." Quality control procedures must be effective, which implies an audit function for verification, called "quality assurance."
"Management" involves the administration of organizations and processes. It also includes strategies of the organization, optimization, and coordination of employees and one company's workflows.
The combination of all the factors, as mentioned earlier, is called "quality management". In other words, "quality management" is the total quality-related activities and objectives. Moreover, the requirements of a certain quality involve planning, doing, checking, and acting. Everything has its price, quality has it too. However, by setting requirements and standards, damages caused by a lack of quality can be avoided!
An example of quality management in the real world is provided by the Japanese company Toyota, with the implementation of the Kanban system. "Kanban" is a physical signal that creates a chain reaction, resulting in a specific action. Why was Toyota so successful? The Japanese company implemented the just-in-time (JIN) inventory process to fill customers' orders as they were generated. JIN is an efficiency management strategy in which raw-material orders are delivered directly from suppliers, including production schedules.
Proper quality management requires precise documentation, testing, and norms, such as ISO – which implies clear documentation of the obtained results and aims from a scientific point of view to improve productivity and reduce costs. Through proper, structured quality management, a company can improve its processes, find weaknesses, and try to erase them! We have good quality, not when the product returns, but when the customer does!
Let us talk now about the role of LIMS software in a quality management process. [FP]-LIMS, the LIMS software solution designed by the German company Fink & Partner GmbH, is an excellent example of integrating quality management into laboratory workflows. LIMS means a laboratory information management system and can be considered a lab assistant whose job is to improve the company's quality standards.
How can this laboratory software positively influence such workflows? LIMS software is designed to organize one company's quality standards to achieve improvement goals. To its features belong documentation, audit obligation, traceability, and early detection of possible upcoming quality errors. Moreover, LIMS enables laboratory technicians to have access to data and customers and partners who can log in to the laboratory database at any time!
Furthermore, installing a LIMS software will significantly reduce production costs since it quickly and systematically individualizes errors. Production data are also collected into reports and certificates. This is also a proof of traceability and thus a proof of systematic quality control. Besides, with LIMS, you can obtain IT extensions, such es ELN lab notebooks, to keep documentation of your audit-proof.
Quality management in laboratories can be connected to the "quality management system" concept, which implies accuracy, reliability, and timeliness of the reported analytical results. All aspects must be controlled to define its quality. ISO 9001 addresses the fundamental requirements for the integration of a quality management system in laboratories' workflows. Therefore, the following criteria must be taken into account: quality objectives and processes, monitoring, and measurement of resources such as analysis, measurement, and evaluation, and internal audit. For example, [FP]-LIMS is strongly supported by the ISO 9001:2015 and quality management system requirements so that the quality can always be controlled and tracked.
To sum up, we can consider that LIMS helps "managing" the quality in laboratories. This is why LIMS software solutions are an excellent integration to quality management in the field of production. They improve the processes, identify as quickly as possible errors, and, therefore, reduce production costs following at the same time high requirements and standards.