Published 16 Jul 2023
What is a Manufacturing Audit Checklist?
A manufacturing audit checklist is a clear and comprehensive guide that helps inspectors effectively perform inspections and ensure manufacturers meet all product requirements. Using a quality audit checklist for manufacturing is crucial in identifying potential errors in manufacturing and preventing financial and production losses.
In this article
- QC Checklists in Manufacturing: Top 5 Reasons Why They’re Critical
- What to Include in a Manufacturing QC Checklist
- How to Conduct a Manufacturing Audit in 7 Steps
- 5 Challenges in Manufacturing Audits
- FAQs about Manufacturing Audits
- Strengthen Your Last Line of Defense Against Quality Defects with SafetyCulture
- Ultimate List of Manufacturing Audit Checklists
QC Checklists in Manufacturing: Top 5 Reasons Why They’re Critical
Using checklists for quality control in manufacturing helps both manufacturers and suppliers guarantee quality in finished products before they ultimately reach the sales floor. In addition, the use of these tools also contributes to improving other aspects of the business. In a nutshell, here are the top reasons that make manufacturing quality audit checklists essential:
- Identify minor issues immediately.
With a QC checklist, it is easier to pinpoint errors in manufacturing and resolve them before they turn into major issues. The tool helps the firm avoid re-starting production from scratch.
In addition, as quality inspectors often come from third-party service providers, comprehensive production audit checklists provide inspectors with an easy reference so they can be more familiarized with the manufacturing firm’s processes.
- Be more assured of product quality.
Manufacturing quality assurance tools, such as the manufacturing audit checklist, help standardize processes and assure that every product that comes out of the line passes quality standards. Effective quality audits help the manufacturer assure suppliers of a better return on investment as they can be more confident of product quality.
- Reduce the level of risk.
Manufacturing firms have a high-risk environment, may it be on the side of safety or finance. Manufacturing checklists are critical quality control tools that help identify red flags from the onset, effectively reducing the risk of financial impact to the bottom line of the company, and most importantly, to customer satisfaction.
- Encourage the smart use of resources.
Every move in manufacturing processes needs to be well-calculated to be cost-effective. QC checklists are effective instruments to help this cause, as it helps avoid false starts and ensure the most efficient use of resources and materials.
- Promote better manufacturer-supplier relationships.
Manufacturing audit checklists encourage collaboration between the manufacturer and supplier as they both have to agree on the checklist items necessary to conduct an effective quality audit. Doing this helps develop accountability between them and avoid costly misunderstandings later on.
What to Include in a Manufacturing QC Checklist
In general, a manufacturing audit checklist should consist of the following components:
- Unique identifier – Product ID, Stock Keeping Unit (SKU), serial number, etc.
- Location on the production line
- Visual inspection – the product’s overall appearance, size, color, printing
- Weight – within the acceptable range
- Materials – product strength and durability
- Operations – functionality according to specified requirements
- Packaging – secureness and print clarity
- Defect log – description, severity, and supporting documentation
- Assessment – if the product is in an acceptable condition
- Signature of the auditor
Quality inspectors and auditors can modify this checklist based on the standards and needs of their company. To illustrate this, here’s a sample manufacturing audit report using a digital checklist:
How to Conduct a Manufacturing Audit in 7 Steps
Auditing the quality of manufactured products can be time-consuming and costly if not done correctly. To help you with that, below is a step-by-step guide on how to carry out manufacturing audits with a checklist:
- Add inspection details – This is one of the most important details for the audit. As the document’s foundation, make sure to include the Product ID, Stock Keeping Unit (SKU), serial number, or any other form of specifiers that would help identify the products that were inspected. Indicate the location of the goods in the production line as well.
- Inspect the products visually – The second step is the initial method of auditing the manufactured products—visually. Individually check the items for their size, color, weight, and materials to confirm that they look according to the predefined set of requirements and design.
- Test if the products are operating properly – In this step, auditors review the products operationally to verify that they are functioning as expected. Some of the things auditors can do are to try, turn on, rotate, move, or adjust the items and observe if they are indeed working as they should be.
- Indicate if non-compliant measures are found – If there are any indicators in any of the areas of the checked products that seem to be non-compliant with the set requirements, specify them. This enables manufacturers to correct defects and prevent suffering from financial loss.
- Check the product packaging – Inspect the products’ packaging by confirming that they are free from deformities, machine marks, scrapes, or smudges. Also, make sure that they are correctly colored, closed securely, and that the products fit perfectly into the packaging.
- Input product defects found – If there are definitive signs of product damages, log them into the manufacturing audit document. Describe the defect in detail and attach a photo or video evidence as a reference. If you can, indicate if the particular defect is trivial, minor, or severe.
- Complete the manufacturing audit – Using the initial factors as supporting details, decide whether the products inspected were acceptable or unacceptable. This decides the next course of action for the products and establishes standards from the manufacturing phase before putting them out to the market, consumers, or clients.
5 Challenges in Manufacturing Audits
A good manufacturing site inspection process is critical to the safety and success of the production line and the quality of products released from it. Manufacturing inspections help ensure that the production line maintains adherence to local and international standards and regulations.
For this reason, manufacturing QC inspectors must have the best set of tools that will help them strengthen their last line of defense against defective products and, ultimately, protect customer interest.
Here are some of the most common challenges that product quality control inspectors encounter and how manufacturing software can help solve them:
1. Manual Data Entry and Compilation
Traditional pen-and-paper inspections require product QC inspectors to manually transcribe data and transfer them from inspection templates to printed reports. A manufacturing inspection tool eliminates this problem by providing pre-made digital templates that can easily be customized to suit inspectors’ preferences.
Once your manufacturing inspection is complete, your data is automatically saved via cloud technology where you can easily access them from your desktop or mobile device.
2. Non-standardized Quality Control Inspections
Manufacturing audit checklists are meant to be standardized across the board, but that is not often the case. For instance, some inspectors don’t have the same updated paper checklists as their co-workers have, leading to varying inspection results.
This lapse is often attributed to the logistical challenges of reprinting and distributing checklists to inspectors in different locations, especially if you have hundreds of inspectors on different continents. As a result, it undermines the value of QC checks as they all need to be uniform to ensure that the product quality standards inspected are also the same.
With the help of manufacturing inspection software, it is easier to standardize checklists since digital templates only need to be updated from a single dashboard. Once updated, inspectors will instantly have the updated templates on their own mobile devices. They no longer need to waste time waiting for the updated version of their printed checklists to arrive on their office desks.
In addition, this tech tool also gives management teams an overview to track inspection performance across all of their manufacturing sites.
3. Accountability Issues
Keeping a paper trail makes it challenging for management to verify if product quality control inspectors are following set standards and performing their duties on time. Digital manufacturing inspection solutions give you the option to set mandatory fields so that no items are skipped. Assigned inspections and corrective actions can easily be tracked so you know which ones have been completed, were missed, or are overdue. Lastly, require digital signatures at the end of inspections to protect manufacturing audit accountability.
4. Multiple Tools for Inspections
In some instances, photo evidence conveys information better than written descriptions. For quality inspectors who use a paper template, this means having to bring a camera along for photo documentation and dealing with the hassle of printing them out to manually attach them to final reports.
Manufacturing inspection software lets inspectors take pictures and annotate them directly on the app, reducing the lag time between inspection and reporting.
5. Data Analysis From Numerous Reports
With traditional pen-and-paper processes, inspectors need to scour through multiple sheets to interpret and analyze inspection results. Not only does this take copious amounts of time and effort to complete, but it’s also prone to human error.
Minimize this risk using powerful data analytics from manufacturing software. It interprets the inspection data saved to the cloud and provides site inspectors with valuable insights (such as frequently failed items) so that they can identify the root of problems. This way, they can spot trends and get a comprehensive view of their production line’s performance.
FAQs about Manufacturing Audits
Manufacturing audits are typically performed by qualified internal or external auditors specializing in manufacturing processes. These auditors possess the necessary knowledge and expertise to effectively assess products against quality control standards. Tools like production checklist templates can help simplify the audit process for them.
It’s important to review and update manufacturing audit checklists on an annual basis or whenever significant changes take place in the production environment. Periodic reviews ensure these checklists reflect changes in regulations, standards, and internal processes.
The 7 most common nonconformances or issues found during manufacturing quality audits may include the following:
- Inadequate process controls
- Equipment defects or malfunctions
- Lack of employee training or certification
- Noncompliance with regulatory requirements
- Poor documentation practices
- Safety hazards
- Quality control failures
Strengthen Your Last Line of Defense Against Quality Defects with SafetyCulture
Manufacturing inspection software is a product and manufacturing process inspection tool that helps manage QC audits through a web-and-mobile interface. It helps quality control inspectors cross-check products against quality standards, easily pinpoint and address non-conformances, and, ultimately, protect customers from substandard products.
SafetyCulture, the world’s leading manufacturing operations platform, equips your quality control team with a tool that strengthens your business’s last line of defense against defects. Innovate manufacturing quality audits with SafetyCulture and have the following advantages:
- Transform paper-driven quality audits and shift to paperless with digital manufacturing checklists.
- Schedule regular quality audits of manufacturing processes and facilities with a mobile device.
- Capture photos, record videos, and annotate them for easier navigation.
- Keep track of audit scores across products, processes, and sites.
- Generate CEO-ready quality audit reports in PDF, Web, Excel, and other formats, and let SafetyCulture send them to your key recipients.
- Worry less about missing paperwork as all audits and reports are stored in the SafetyCulture cloud.
- Customize and deploy quality training materials that new inspectors can complete on their mobile devices.
Start browsing this collection of quality audit checklists for manufacturing and customize them according to your factory or plant’s quality assurance program.
Ultimate List of Manufacturing Audit Checklists
This product inspection checklist template, or product quality control checklist, can help suppliers conduct comprehensive quality assessments of products before they are sent to the sales floor. Use this digital checklist to take photo evidence of product conformances and non-conformances and auto-generate comprehensive reports to detail audit findings.
A collection of GMP audit checklists that can help assess compliance of staff, facility, and materials with regulatory manufacturing standards. These GMP audit checklists can help ensure that employees follow proper production processes and procedures. Use SafetyCulture’s scoring feature to evaluate the overall performance of the processes and track improvements. Preview sample GMP audit report template for reference.
A GMP Site Walkthrough Checklist is a tool used in conducting a full facility walkthrough and observation. You can use this tool as a GMP warehouse audit checklist to check overall safety and assess aspects, such as pest control, operational methods & practices, PPE, and building & ground areas.
This comprehensive manufacturing inspection checklist is divided into 2 sections: the first section assesses employee training programs, work processes, emergency procedures, and the environment, while the second focuses on tools, machinery, materials, facilities, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Use this manufacturing process audit checklist template to conduct detailed reviews of processes in a manufacturing facility and provide recommendations for maintaining a safe working environment.
Performing regular manufacturing workplace safety walks can help maintain high safety standards across a manufacturing site. This checklist evaluates if signage, barricades, tools, equipment, and machinery are in their proper location and in good working condition. The checklist also assesses if Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is properly maintained and used as necessary. Use SafetyCulture to rate the overall condition of the workplace and record general findings, observations, recommendations, and employees’ good practices.
This manufacturing risk assessment checklist aims to identify and control risks in your workplace. Use this checklist to evaluate hazards, identify the root cause, and recommend implementing controls to mitigate risks. Use SafetyCulture’s scheduling feature to ensure your team never misses another manufacturing risk assessment again.
Use this collection of Gemba Walk checklists in your manufacturing site to record your observations and collect information that will help you identify areas of improvement. These checklists will help you assess the accuracy of the work, the system being used, and the issues encountered by employees. Browse this collection of Gemba Walk templates and download any of the templates for free.
This 5S manufacturing checklist can help you identify unnecessary items on the manufacturing site. The quality audit checklist for manufacturing ensures materials, products, tools, and equipment are properly labeled, cleaned, organized, and stored in the proper location. Use SafetyCulture’s scheduling feature to set up scheduled audits and sustain safety, quality, and productivity in the workplace.
This kaizen report template can help organizations to easily enable members to identify areas for continuous improvement and detail how they underwent the Kaizen process. This kaizen report template has been designed to make it easier for employees and management to identify any of the 8 wastes and eliminate them for increased morale, productivity, and competitiveness.
Use this lean manufacturing housekeeping checklist to eliminate waste in the manufacturing process. This checklist will help ensure that hazardous products and waste materials are properly stored, labeled, and disposed of. Use SafetyCulture on your iPad, tablet, or mobile phone to record data and generate on-the-spot reports.
Use this digital checklist as your new factory setup checklist (new manufacturing plant checklist) and conduct safety review of a new or modified manufacturing facility before commissioning. This checklist helps ensure that a facility will be safe for employees and that equipment will operate according to design specifications.
This collection of checklists can help you perform vehicle inspections to ensure your vehicles are safe and free of mechanical issues. Automotive quality control checklists are used to identify if there are defects or repairs needed on exterior parts, engine, and safety system of your vehicle. Use SafetyCulture to capture photo evidence of the defects found and provide best recommendations for immediate actions.
This ISO 9001 Internal Audit checklist can be used as an internal audit to assess your organization’s QMS and your readiness for third-party ISO 9001:2015 certification. The audit checklist consist of 7 main categories that will evaluate the conformance of your company in terms of 1) Context of the Organization, 2) Leadership, 3) Planning, 4) Support, 5) Operation, 6) Performance evaluation, and 7) Improvement.
This internal self-assessment will evaluate the compliance of your Environmental Management System (EMS) with ISO 14001:2015. Use this checklist to assess environmental policies, legal requirements, and management programs if they comply with the standard regulation.
Manufacturing plant managers and compliance officers can use this manufacturing process audit checklist to ensure that workers adhere to quality and safety standards set by the organization. Check if employees are all wearing the appropriate PPEs for their tasks, the right materials and tools for work are available, and if the agreed upon process is being followed as designed and approved by management. This ready-to-use audit checklist is also customizable according to the specifications of a business.