No factory wants to see a finished product with a defect. As laws and class suits against product defects become even more aggressive, manufacturers should take critical steps to reduce the number of defects that can affect customer experience and company reputation and improve quality management.
Today, companies have wide access to cutting-edge technologies that prevent the likelihood of product damages. One example is the robot management system, a smart manufacturing solution designed to provide managers and operators with visualized data, analyze reports, and generate charts. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into how manufacturers can reduce product defects and ensure excellent quality management systems.
Assess the supplier’s quality management system (QMS)
Most importers choose suppliers awarded with an ISO certification because this will assure them that the supplier’s quality control systems and production capabilities are on par with global standards.
But this doesn’t mean an ISO-certified factory is actually performing the practices according to the established standards. For example, a factory may acquire certifications by bribing third-party auditors and consultants.
Supplier review or quality audit is a systematic evaluation of a factory’s QMS that is typically against the ISO standards. The supplier review should contain the following:
- Purchasing and checking procedures for evaluation and approval of sub-suppliers and creating acceptance criteria for production input
- Personnel training and checking if employee training program includes educating workers about certain defects in the role.
- Quality records, analysis, statistics, and checking procedures for defect collection, sampling, preventive and corrective action, and accommodating client complaints.
- Production and process control includes checking cleanliness, contamination control, workmanship standards, work instructions, production equipment, and environmental controls.
- Test, measure, inspection equipment involves checking correct tool and equipment calibration to ensure the right results and measurements.
- Acceptance, traceability, and identification activities include checking of procedures and records for incoming material and inputs and product quality control.
- Nonconforming product control is the checking of procedures for identification, marking, separation, evaluation, rework, and disposal of defective or non-conforming products.
- Packaging, handling, and labeling storage involve checking of procedures to guarantee protection against product damage, contamination, deterioration, and mix-ups.
Under the qualifying system, importers perform quality auditing before working with a potential supplier. The data obtained from the quality audit will prevent potential risks of working with unscrupulous suppliers that are unwilling or incapable of meeting production standards. In turn, this will help the quality control (QC) team to manage QC operations beyond their control.
Negotiate the best price
Everyone knows that quality always comes at a price. Factory managers and suppliers can be incredibly cost-conscious. This means they’re more likely to choose low-cost raw materials, source cheaper alternative parts, rush production, and cut corners to reduce labor costs.
While it can be tempting to negotiate lower rates and look for the lowest bids, this approach may compromise the overall product quality. Lower prices often come at the expense of a product’s longevity and quality, which paves the way for more defects. To find suppliers who offer the right prices, do the following:
- Gather multiple price quotes to determine the median costs for the quality and type of product you’re looking for.
- Request bills of materials and itemized price quotes for all sub-components and parts of the product
- For wholesale purchases of materials, provide an order forecast. Wholesale purchasing will keep prices predictable and stable and prevent suppliers from making substitutions when dealing with fluctuations in market price.
Set strict standards to establish quality expectations
Another way to know the credibility of a supplier is to ask for product samples before production. Product samples will drive the supplier to demonstrate whether their product is according to your preferred quality standard. They will also set quality expectations before the production begins to avoid quality defects and other potential issues.
Checking the sample quality will also determine whether the price quote is equivalent to the actual product’s quality level. Even if you have already hired a supplier, make it a point to request and evaluate the product sample. This should address the materials and parts used, branding, artwork, packaging design, proper performance and functionality, and conformity with product specifications.
After the evaluation and approval, the product sample serves as the standard. The factory staff will use this as a reference model during production. It will also set the quality standard so the staff will implement corrective actions by simply using their own judgment when issues occur. As a result, this will prevent product defects from damaging other portions of finished goods.
Finding and addressing product defects is the least favorite part of manufacturing, but it’s a critical job that can affect almost the entire operation. If you want your company to reduce its quality defects to almost zero, deal with them immediately to avoid any reputational fallout.