QUALITY WITHOUT COMPROMISE
HOW MICRO MATIC BECAME A CHAMPION FOR QUALITY, INNOVATION, AND CUSTOMER SERVICE
Quality, variety, and creativity in the beer industry continue to grow, resulting in more perfect pours and more delicious sips than ever before. Since 1953, Micro Matic has been leading the charge.
While initially involved in just the production of keg spears (a market Micro Matic now owns over 90% share globally), today, the company is recognized as a leading global supplier of draft dispensing systems and solutions in over 120 countries. In addition to providing full dispensing systems, Micro Matic’s portfolio of products also includes custom towers, dispense components, refrigeration, multi-beverage kegerators, and more. But no matter how large the portfolio becomes, Micro Matic is steadfast in its mission of never wavering when it comes to quality. It’s what they call “quality without compromise.”
KEEPING A CLOSE EYE ON RAW MATERIALS
To maintain the highest levels of quality, Micro Matic zeroes in on the quality of raw materials within their global supply chain, regularly rejecting 20% of what comes in the door for not meeting the company’s strict quality requirements. The company’s goal is to offer a consistent product at a competitive price from batch to batch, week to week, month to month. “It’s quality you can count on,” says Micro Matic President Cian Hickey. “We could bring in pallets of finished goods from outside the United States and stick our label on it, but that’s not the Micro Matic model. We bring in raw materials, ensure they’re of the finest quality, and then assemble and manufacture our own products. This gives us full control over the quality of the product the customer receives.”
Micro Matic achieves their superior quality control methods through the expansion of its quality department, a team that works alongside other departments within the organization to focus on continuous improvement for all products and processes. “Expanding the quality department has solved a number of challenges,” says Mark VanHousen, Quality Assurance Manager of Micro Matic. “The quality of our product was never in question, but our processes had a few inefficiencies that we wanted to streamline.”
With experience in the medical device and aerospace industry, VanHousen brings a unique perspective to quality management. “If a medical device or piece of equipment on a plane isn’t designed properly, people could lose their lives,” he states. “What happens if a poor quality part gets out the door at Micro Matic? Well, somebody’s not going to be happy with their beer. Yet, that’s not the way we look at it.” VanHousen says that his expanded team is taking the same approach with Micro Matic’s quality, designs, and processes that they would exist at a medical or aerospace company.
THE QUALITY DEPARTMENT IN ACTION
Micro Matic parts are manufactured under ISO 9001 standard requirements and inspected using instrumentation traceable to the NIST standard, but the company takes their dedication to quality even further. Micro Matic uses only the best inspection equipment for the job and ensures it’s always properly calibrated before measuring a product. The product is also performance tested to gauge functionality and be sure it performs exactly the way it’s supposed to. Whatever pressure a product would be under normal operation, Micro Matic pressure tests above and beyond those metrics.
Of course, non-conforming products are occasionally discovered, and Micro Matic makes it part of their mission to always get to the heart of the problem. “When we get to the root cause of a process breakdown, we can implement a permanent corrective action and stop that from ever happening again,” says VanHousen.
Micro Matic also promptly returns any raw materials that come in and don’t meet the quality department's specifications. “Testing everything we bring into our facilities in the quality control department allows us to be confident that an inferior product doesn’t make its way into our finished products,” says VanHousen. “Incoming inspections help ensure the final product will meet the expectations, quality standards, and specifications that we have set in place.”
Some of the quality processes Micro Matic has implemented or invested in over the years include:
- Sending QA alerts to all production team members through multiple monitors on the production floor.
- Standardizing work for specific processes, with detailed instructions of each step documented.
- Calibrating digital leak testing to inform operators if a part is of high quality or substandard.
- Installing universal fixtures, reducing tear downtimes.
- Installing basic fixturing, providing ease of assembly to create more consistent product quality.
- Upgrading tools to reduce rework for consistency, damaged tubing, and damaged coils.
- Testing for leaks and mislabeling of lines during tower production.
Micro Matic has made improvements across the board to satisfy its customers. New processes have reduced in-house rework of rejected parts by almost 70%, and customer returns have been reduced by nearly 50%.
A DEDICATION TO INNOVATION
Micro Matic’s investment and commitment to quality are two-fold. First and foremost, the company focuses on the global supply chain and ensures that they receive the best product to manufacture their final parts and pieces. Secondly, they lead the industry by developing state-of-the-art equipment, acquiring new materials, and adopting new manufacturing processes to consistently deliver a quality product.
One example of this dedication to innovation is Micro Matic’s continuing investment in beer line development. The beer line that the company is producing, supplying, and selling today is an extremely different product than the one in the marketplace ten years ago. Micro Matic beer lines consist of multiple layer tubings with oxygen barriers that are more resilient to yeast build-up, providing a much cleaner beer tube and beverage environment, which offer a much better quality beverage experience at the point of sale.
A FOCUS ON THE CUSTOMER
Micro Matic also prides itself on being a very customer-centric company. The customer experience starts with the order entry process, handling questions and concerns, making sure that a product does what it says on the box, and maintaining quality so that the customer can install that piece of equipment in a retail outlet, bar, or restaurant with confidence.
As a customer-driven company, Micro Matic also likes to work hand-in-hand with its customers. “Rather than inventing something behind closed doors and hoping the ‘ta-da!’ moment when we present it to the customer goes smoothly, customers are invited to be engaged in the development process,” says Hickey. “This way, we know that the ‘ta-da’ moment is going to unveil a product that meets their expectations and their needs.”
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
Micro Matic will never stop innovating and improving. Already, future plans include:
- ISO 9001: The company is currently reviewing top-level management and procedure documents with Micro Matic Denmark to create a global Quality Management System with a completion date before 2020. Micro Matic USA will also have ISO 9001 registration within the first quarter of 2020.
- Global D4 Software: Micro Matic US has begun using the software for defect reports and will also contain all ISO 9001 QMS documentation in the future.
- Inspection Measuring and Testing: The next phase will include a Zeiss coordinate measuring machine (CMM) and a salt spray chamber.
- ISO 14001 (Environmental): This is planned for implementation by the end of 2020/beginning of 2021.
- ISO 22000 (Food Safety Management): Scheduled for 2022.
“I’m proud of our company’s history, and I’m excited about its future,” says Cian Hickey. “You don’t get to stay in this business for as long as we have by producing an average product. I’m in this factory every day, and I see the rigorous testing that all raw materials go through to deliver the highest quality Micro Matic product. We don’t take shortcuts, and that’s what quality without compromise is all about.”
EVERYTHING ON TAP
For over 60 years, Micro Matic has been recognized as one of the world’s leading suppliers of draft beverage equipment. Specializing in keg-to-glass technology, we offer a total solution for meeting beverage equipment needs. Our dedication to customer service is supported by four regional sales and distribution centers, the Micro Matic Dispense Institute for training and education, and a Certified Installer Network for installations. Want to speak with a “perfect pour” expert? Contact Micro Matic today.