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QUALITYFOCUS
How to better utilize
QA/QC throughout
your supply chain
By Nick Herbert
taken place on the floor when moving the product
from concept to reality. When production starts up
in China the new supplier does not have any of this
past knowledge, combine that with potential chang-
es in materials, measurement systems, and a gen-
eral lack of experience in dealing with your company
or customer’s requirements and you end up with a
product made to spec but completely wrong.
2. You are only as successful as your partner:
Supplier lacks capabilities: Just because the fac-
tory makes vacuum cleaners does not mean they
should make your vacuum cleaners. Number one
thing to do is visit the supplier. You need to insure
before placing a major order they have the people,
systems and machines in place to create your prod-
uct. Trying to use or convert a B or C quality level
supplier to one that makes A level product consis-
tently puts you at risk of losing time and money as
rework erodes any cost benefits you had by using
them in the first place.
A
common China tale:
The story goes as follows; you have located a Supplier does not want your business: As simple as this state-
supplier through a business contact, the internet ment sounds, it is a basic question that rarely gets asked. If you
or a trade show. Product drawings are sent and order volume is too low or quality requirements too high it is possi-
with competitive pricing and shipped samples that ble the supplier simply does not have an interest in the business.
are acceptable, full production is okayed. Minor production delays
aside, the product passes the pre-shipment inspection and after 3. Get QA/QC involved early:
a month in transit arrives in the warehouse. You crack open the Correct samples does not mean quality product: Even
boxes and the product is wrong…now the fun begins. though samples check out it is of utmost importance to be active
With the above scenario common, it is easy to see how quickly in the pre-production and production runs of a product. Whether
the delays, product rework and lack of customer satisfaction can it is with on the ground inspections by yourself or a 3rd party it is
quickly turn the total cost of bad quality into a 6 zero problem. So important to assure that the line is checked during production. A
the question remains, how does this happen? common problem is that samples are often made in-house but dur-
There are countless issues that can influence the overall quality ing full production the factory will outsource parts or processes.
of your product but some of the most common and easiest to By having pre-production or in-process inspections you can assure
correct are as follows: that the same quality of parts used in the sample are being used
in production.
1. Quality starts with design:
Non-updated drawings: Typically when a product’s production Quality suggestions:
is moved to China the drawings that are sent have never been Quality, especially in China, starts from the conception of the
updated to capture all the small engineering changes that have relationship with a supplier and the design of the product, not with
56 JULY/AUGUST 2009 www.chainaonline.com
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