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The Quality Process Begins Here
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The Quality Process Begins Here

Five Tips to Reduce Costs and Save Valuable Time

Written by Charlie Tuozzolo, ATC Industrial Supply Chain

Quality professionals will often hear two contradictory questions:

Why do we need to pay more attention to quality? (When things are going well) or,
Why didn’t we have a better quality process? (When things are going poorly)

The first question implies that you have successful quality processes in place. But, when things go poorly, it may be a lesson to be certain you’ve been clearly heard and understood.

Quality issues may be preceded by insufficient specifications around product design. Quality engineers often discover that part failure or improper operation was a function of an initial design that fell short of the demands of the operation. Precursors to operational problems may occur during the specifications or ordering process. It is particularly important when something special is required. The conditions must be clearly communicated.  

Specifications are predicated upon operational needs, and special operational challenges should be made clear to all parties involved in the manufacturing/procurement process. At the time of the requisition, confirmation must be obtained by operations to confirm these concerns were addressed in the specs.

Communications between customers and suppliers usually occur by email, which is notoriously the root for mis-communication. Not only do both sides need to share details of special requirements, they need to confirm that the needs have been received, understood, and, incorporated into the approved specifications. Otherwise, when the product is ready to be made, inspected, shipped, or received, a problem will arise. You may almost guarantee that issues will ensue if the people who needed to know about the “special requirements” from the start had not acknowledged them upon receipt.

The consequence is costly. It can result in lost time and money, and the delay may impact your reputation or future contracts. Since an order may be processed by numerous people or systems, it’s ever more possible that important information may be missed.  

If the question is, “What happened to our quality processes?” the answer may lie in more effective communication, one that includes a responsive feedback loop. Some of the following ideas will help to keep quality in the process.

Five Tips to Reduce Costs and Save Valuable Time

Special Requirements — Visibility     Include special requirements in Order Management, ERP, or Warehouse Management systems so that anyone involved in the handling of the part or order may see it.
Special Requirements — Clarity     Ensure that Purchase Orders, Requests for Quotes, Order / Quote acknowledgements clearly state special requirements. 
Special Requirements — Understanding     Consider having a meeting with the customer or supplier to ensure they fully understand the requirements.
Special Requirements — Highlights     Consider the use of any other method such as cards or status boards to highlight item with special requirements.
Requests for Deviations     Use Requests for Deviations if the customer or supplier utilize such tools.

 

Quality is a thread that runs through an organization.

Ideally, quality consists of process, procedures, people, and pride that combine to drive compliance and performance. The Quality Group can provide guidance and quality tools, but it relies upon a commitment from senior leadership to keep that thread strong.

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