At present, quality control of any production process is a fundamental tool to achieve its success, since it will allow the product to differentiate from the rest of the market. Said control is not only applied at the end of the process, in the finished product, but also decisively intervenes in the analysis of the raw materials that participate in said process. In today’s post, the ATRIA team shows you the importance of quality management of raw materials in a process and a guide to quality failures in them.
The importance of quality and Forensic Engineering in raw materials
The final product of any industrial production process depends directly on the quality of the raw materials involved in its manufacture. For this reason, large industries focus their production on the use of raw materials that allow the correct development of their product.
Thanks to the current development of analytical techniques for the characterization of materials, it is possible to evaluate and ensure the quality of the materials that make up a product. With them, for example, we can know from the chemical composition of a material, through infrared analysis, to its mechanical properties, depending on its final application.
From an opposite point of view, when a defect is detected in a product, it can be apllied forensic engineering, studying the origin of the problem to give it a correct solution. For example, if your final product shows a defect when it is exposed in harsh environmental conditions that it had never shown before, the first step you should take is the analysis of the raw materials that make it up, since it is very likely that in this way you will find the causes of their bad behavior.
For all this, a total knowledge of the raw materials that are going to intervene in your production process is totally necessary, since the correct operation of your product will depend on them and, therefore, customer satisfaction and the consequent differentiation of your product in the market. This knowledge ranges from knowing the composition of your raw material to the validation of its skills within your production process.
Quality control of raw materials in a process
Quality control of raw materials is defined as the set of processes by which the analysis of all the factors involved in the acquisition and use of raw materials within a manufacturing process is carried out. The quality management of raw materials depends on their function within the production process. From a general point of view, such management would include the following stages:
- Search for suppliers, supply and storage of raw materials. The first step of quality control of raw materials is based on the search for information about obtaining the same, that is, search for suppliers, analysis of transport and handling of raw materials.
- Quality tests and analysis of the results. After obtaining the desired raw material, it is completely necessary to evaluate its applicability in your process. For this, tests must be defined that show the value of raw materials in real situations of use within your production process. After conducting these tests, it is necessary to carry out a thorough assessment of your capabilities.
- Discussion and evaluation of the quality of the raw material. The final stage of the quality management of the raw materials is based on the final discussion and evaluation of the quality shown by the raw materials. A fundamental part of this final stage is communication with suppliers, in order to obtain as much information as possible about them.
What key aspects define the correct quality control of raw materials?
Due to the importance of the quality of raw materials in the final result of any production process, below, we show the key points to achieve a correct control of the quality of raw materials.
- Avoid the variability of the raw materials of your production process. One of the most important aspects when performing quality control on the raw materials of your production process is to make the minimum amount of changes on them, whether they are supplier changes, material changes or applicability changes. If a low variability is maintained with respect to raw materials, the origin of the possible defects that may appear in the final product will be easily detected and solved.
- Strict quality testing of raw materials. It is essential to correctly define quality tests to detect failures in the applicability of raw materials. Defining strict quality tests can avoid future failures in the production process and, therefore, ensure the quality of the final product.
- Control in the administration of the raw materials of your production process. Another aspect that often goes unnoticed but that directly influences the quality of raw materials is their acquisition and storage. It is essential to know the limitations that a raw material may have against the environmental conditions where it is stored. Among many factors, it is worth highlighting the importance of the temperature and humidity of the storage place.
- Use of standardized management tools. Last but not least, it is important to highlight the existence of standardized tools for quality raw materials, such as raw material management systems. These systems are intended to help in decision-making regarding the acquisition of needs, improve economic efficiency and encourage the differentiation of a product in the market.
Real cases of evaluation of the quality of the raw materials of a product
The appearance of defects in products whose quality management of raw materials is not correct is increasingly common. At ATRIA we have experience in solving this type of failure and in proposing improvement of materials.
As we have mentioned previously, the first stage of forensic engineering that we carry out is based on exhaustively analyzing the raw materials that make up the product that has manifested the defect. Here are the most common analyzes we carry out to evaluate the quality of a product’s raw materials:
- Chemical composition analysis.
As we have discussed in the previous section, it is crucial to have the maximum amount of information about the raw materials of a product. Therefore, the information contained in the technical sheet of a process is the perfect guide to assess its quality when it is performing its function. At ATRIA we have carried out numerous quality tests on raw materials where the key to finding out the origin of a defect and its solution was in the composition of any of its raw materials. One of the most characteristic examples is found in the appearance of surface stains on a product that is exposed to different types of water and different temperatures. Thanks to the knowledge of the chemical composition of its raw materials, it was discovered that one of the polymers that made it up absorbed water and oxidized. You can read more about this Project here.
- Analysis of the surface properties of the product.
Another of the most demanded analysis is the evaluation of the surface properties of the products. When a material behaves erroneously in the face of liquid wetting conditions, the evaluation of the raw materials that make it up under the same conditions is crucial, since they can show the same defect as the final product.
- Microscopic analysis of the surface and cross section of the product.
One of the most important quality analysis of raw materials is microscopic inspection of the surface and cross section of the final product. Thanks to techniques such as SEM or TEM, we are able to analyze in micro and even nanoscopic detail the defects that may appear in the raw materials that make up a product.
- Analysis of the resistance of raw materials against adverse environmental conditions.
Finally, and with great importance, is to evaluate the resistance of raw materials against adverse conditions that cause the appearance of a defect. Among other resistance experiments against external agents, it is worth highlighting the evaluation of the product against acidic and basic media, water of different hardness or even against food agents.
In short, the quality of your product starts from the raw materials that make it up. What do you think of our guide to quality failures of raw materials? Has a defect appeared in your product and do you think it is necessary to analyze the raw materials that make it up? Contact us!
- Accelerated aging failure guide
- Failure analysis of product and processes
- What are quality tests and product tests
- Coating and paint failure guide
- 5 Quality Tools: FMEA, SIPOC, 5 whys, fishbone and affinity