Quality AOC customers can rely on27 September 2021
As a leading global supplier to the composites industry AOC is determined to be the preferred resin supplier for our customers, creating and delivering solutions which help their business grow. Quality plays a crucial role in this mission, as is explained by Stephanie Rouillère, Responsible for Quality Alignment at AOC Europe.
AOC’s manufacturing expertise, proprietary equipment and automated process control systems ensure the quality and consistency of our products. Customers can rely on our resins to process and perform as expected, each and every time. With trouble-free processing, and lower rework and waste at their sites, our customers can maintain robust, cost-effective manufacturing operations, enabling them to remain competitive in their markets and satisfy their customers’ expectations.
“Yet, for AOC, quality encompasses much more than our products”, explains Stephanie Rouillère. “Quality is at the heart of everything we do – from the expert advice offered by our technical support teams, to making sure that our shipments are delivered on time. AOC is committed to achieving – and maintaining – the highest levels of quality for our products, and our services.”
Measuring quality performance
The foundation of AOC’s quality performance is our expertise built up over many decades and made possible by a highly experienced team of polymer scientists, and manufacturing, technical service and commercial experts. To ensure that AOC maintains the highest level of quality throughout our operations we have several systems in place designed to monitor and improve our performance.
Quality performance can be measured by simply studying the In-specs percentage (so-called “Q1 percentage”) in production and the number of customer complaints, but AOC strongly believes that quality performance goes far beyond these two key indicators. AOC has implemented an approach used successfully for many years in the area of safety improvement and we investigate all quality deviations – or ’near misses’ – detected at our production sites (e.g. raw material preparation error prior to reactor loading). Another extremely useful quality performance indicator is customer feedback obtained during meetings and phone calls, which we call ‘soft’ complaints (customers voicing to AOC potential areas for improvement).
By understanding the reasons behind near misses and soft complaints we learn how to improve our procedures and processes and avoid these warning signs developing into major issues detrimental to our business, or that of our customers. Our technical service, commercial and productions teams input into this database, which provides an excellent global overview of AOC’s quality performance.
The Iceberg Analogue: Customer complaints and number of Q1 batches are easily visible quality indicators. Yet AOC also investigates less obvious information sources as opportunities for improvement.
To support this proactive approach, we have developed a root cause analysis (RCA) process, to trace the origin of any problems and identify appropriate solutions. This has been implemented across every AOC site. Change management is another important area of focus. We thoroughly study all changes which could affect AOC’s performance and take any action necessary to avoid impacts on quality.
A culture of continuous improvement
We are proud of the fact that all AOC European production sites are ISO 9001 certified. Certification is not a legal obligation but a strategic decision, reflecting our desire to continuously improve our products and services and boost levels of customer satisfaction. Customers can be confident that AOC has an internationally-recognized quality management system in place which helps us to improve product consistency, reduce manufacturing cycle times and increase efficiency, resulting in reduced waste and costs.
In addition, all AOC EMEA manufacturing sites have also been certified to the ISO 14001 environmental standard, a sign of our commitment to promoting sustainable products and processes.
To further reinforce the importance of quality in our organization we have established a Quality Improvement Committee (QIC). This meeting between AOC production sites and technical services teams enables exchange of best practices and contributes to our quality performance improvement initiatives.
Customer satisfaction is one important sign that our quality system procedures are is successful, and a strong indication of customer satisfaction is the number of contracts signed with key customers every year. In our last Customer Survey (end of 2020), AOC’s EMEA customers confirmed that AOC’s high-quality products and services are paramount to their success, next to AOC’s technical service support and technology developments
Quality and safety are entrenched in our organization
“AOC places the same level of importance on quality as we do on safety”, concludes Stéphanie Rouillère. “Like safety, quality will always remain a key objective, crucial to the continuing success of AOC’s business and that of our customers over the years to come.”