Many businesses have to conduct inspections on a regular basis, including safety inspections, equipment inspections, and even quality inspections to ensure their products are being fabricated with proper attention to detail. These inspections matter; they guarantee safety, appropriate quality, or both, and they enable the firm to run efficiently and maintain compliance.
Unfortunately, inspections can also be costly and time-consuming if you’re not careful. Plus, if you don’t invest in your inspections wisely, they might turn out to be practically worthless.
So how do you make sure your inspections remain as effective and efficient as possible?
Inspections are a Necessity
For most businesses, inspections are a practical necessity. You might be required to conduct inspections to adhere to regulations, or you may respond to internal or external pressure to achieve higher levels of safety or quality.
There’s no reality in which you could or should forgo your inspections. So let’s turn our attention to how you can improve them.
The Many Types of Inspections
The term “inspection” may apply to a variety of different activities, each of which has a similar goal. Generally, these activities entail some kind of evaluation to confirm that a particular business activity or function continues to meet necessary standards. Most often, these standards involve safety, quality, or both.
For example, fleet vehicle inspections contain elements of both. Inspecting the vehicles in your fleet is a way of making sure they are operating properly, for both quality of life and safety.
These kinds of inspections are also vital because they can save money. Proactive maintenance of your cars and trucks and making repairs in advance of dire need can save on repair costs later.
How to Make Inspections More Effective
Ultimately, we can make inspections more effective by making them more:
- Functional. Safety inspections are useless unless they actually promote safety. We want all our inspections to help us achieve our goals, whatever they happen to be. Promoting more functional inspections means we need to design clearer standards, provide better training, and test to ensure those inspections work as intended.
- Cost-effective. Spending thousands of dollars and hundreds of man-hours on an inspection that barely works is clearly a waste. Though functionality and purpose are the greatest priorities, we also ought to consider cost-effectiveness.
- Consistent. Good inspection processes are also highly consistent. Inspections that are cost-effective are a great start, but if you can’t replicate your initial level of success, they’re not going to benefit you for long.
These are some ways that you can accomplish all three objectives:
- Establish a culture of safety. Safety culture is one of the best ways to ensure that your employees follow your inspection processes closely. The idea is to establish cultural standards and norms, so every member of your team will take safety seriously. If everyone is safety conscious, and promotes higher safety, they’re going to be more likely to follow your standards.
- Use scheduling software and alerts. Human error and simple forgetfulness are typical causes of inspection errors – or neglected inspections. You can reduce the potential for this kind of mistake by applying better scheduling software and automatic alerts. Ideally, this will notify and guide employees whenever they ought to take action.
- Document processes and provide training. Documented inspection processes lead to far greater consistency, assuming the documents are distributed and read thoroughly. As an added measure, you should provide better education and training to your staff, so the documentation is merely a formal backup. Observe your inspectors closely and provide them with feedback, if necessary; better education and training should lead to better work.
- Appoint strong leaders. Safety and quality tend to flow from the top down. If you have leaders in place who take inspections seriously, promote safety consistently, and want everyone to do quality work, your inspections are apt to be more effective. If your leaders treat inspections as an afterthought or possess a lackadaisical attitude toward safety or quality, you can’t expect your employees near the bottom will step up.
- Hold individuals accountable. Your company should hold individuals accountable for the inspection work they are supposed to do. If someone skips a step, or fails to report a pertinent detail accurately, let them know so they can correct the mistake in the future.
- Review, assess, and adapt. Finally, take the time to review, assess, and adapt if necessary. How consistent are your inspections? How much time do they take? Are there any gaps that need to be filled? And what changes can you implement to improve your metrics in the future?
The road to better inspections requires effort and attention. But if you’re willing to invest in this facet of your company, and polish your strategies to perfection, you can end up with a safer, higher-quality, and more efficient operation.