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Best Practices in Supplier Quality Management

Companies that sell industrial products need to preserve their preferred supplier status to continue to be considered for
future business. As a result they are under pressure to ensure that their products continue to meet or exceed acceptable
PPM and Corrective Action thresholds set by their customers.
Supplier quality management has emerged as one of the leading business practices in the past few years. World-class
manufacturers are making significant investments in systems and processes to improve supplier quality. This white paper
briefly outlines some of the best practices implemented by such manufacturers in supplier quality management.
Why Supplier Quality is critical?
With companies outsourcing their manufacturing to strategic partners across the globe, the supply chains have become
very long. Many consumer products are manufactured in Mexico or the Far East and then shipped to North American
markets using multiple logistics providers via ocean, air and trucks. It can take weeks for a finished product to reach the
store shelves from a supplier in the Far East. In addition, many of these manufacturers have streamlined their supply
chain and implemented lean inventory techniques. As a result, any issue in supplier quality can quickly result in stock
Companies that sell industrial products need to preserve their preferred supplier status to continue to be considered for
future business. As a result, they are under pressure to ensure that their products continue to meet or exceed acceptable
PPM and Corrective Action thresholds set by their customers. Hence, managing their own suppliers quality is very high
on the agenda for these companies.
The following best practices enable these companies to improve their own quality by improving their suppliers product
and delivery quality.
Best Practice #1: Measuring & tracking cost of poor supplier quality
Most organizations do not track and measure the cost of poor supplier quality (COPQ) attributed to their suppliers. Such
COPQ may add up to over 10% of the organizations revenue. Some companies only track supplier COPQ by measuring
scrap and increase in MRB inventory. Results have shown that materials account for less than 50% of the total COPQ.
The following should be taken into account to calculate the actual COPQ.
Scrap, rework, sorting and processing costs due to poor quality
MRB inventory and processing costs due to inspection failure
Line shutdown attributed to poor quality
Using equipment that is capacity constrained for rework due to poor quality, reducing the overall utilization of the
production line
Freight costs due to expedited shipment to customers/downstream plants
Warranty expenses due to poor quality
Recall expenses due to poor quality of products shipped to customers
Quality Management Systems (QMS) or manufacturing systems can track whenever any of the above costs are incurred
due to supplier quality issues. World-class manufacturers are using all of the above factors to track actual supplier-related
Best Practice #2: Cost recovery
As we discussed above, the total COPQ is equal to the COPQ of OEM plus inherited COPQ of suppliers. As a result,
companies need to proactively work with their suppliers to improve their quality, so that they can reduce their own COPQ.
Hence a cost-recovery system, where suppliers are charged back for providing poor quality of components, is an effective
way to introduce business discipline and accountability into the supply chain.
However, based on our findings, less than 50% of companies pursue cost recovery with their suppliers. And majority of
these companies only recover material costs from their suppliers. According to a recent report by AMR, an industry
analyst group, about 65% of the costs attributed to the poor supplier quality are non-material related - see an example in
the picture below. If a company institutes a quality management system to aggregate such costs and use it for chargebacks, not only would they be able to fully recover the costs of poor quality from their suppliers, they would be able to
institute a discipline that forces the suppliers to quickly improve their quality of products shipped.

Best Practice #3: Supplier Audit

Supplier Audits are one of the best ways to ensure that supplier is following the processes and procedures that you
agreed to during the selection processes. The supplier audit identifies non-conformances in manufacturing process,
shipment process, engineering change process, invoicing process and quality process at the supplier. After the audit, the
supplier and manufacturer jointly identify corrective actions which must be implemented by the supplier within an agreedupon timeframe. A future audit ensures that these corrective actions have been successfully implemented.
In our research, over 50% of the manufacturers do not follow the best practices in audit, while engaging with their
suppliers. By implementing best practices, manufacturers ensure that the audit process is effective and efficient and
allows them to audit their entire supplier base at least once a year while maintaining a lean staff of auditors. The following
picture shows the best practices process for internal auditing.

Best Practice #4: Supplier Scorecard

Supplier Scorecards are one of the best techniques in using facts to rank the suppliers relative performance within the
supply base and tracking improvement in suppliers quality over time. Scorecards also provide a data point into any future
business negotiations. Following are the key operational metrics that leading manufacturers track in their supplier
PPM of Supplier Components
# of Corrective Actions Last Quarter
Average Response and Resolution time for Corrective actions
# RMAs Processed per month
MRB Inventory Levels
# of Rework Hours due to Supplier Components
% of Actual COPQ Recovered from Suppliers
# of Customer Complaints on Product Quality
Warranty Reserves
Relative ranking of supplier
Performance against benchmark
Best Practice #5: Closed Loop Corrective Action
Systematic reductions in the Cost of Poor quality can be attained by implementing a Quality Management System (QMS)
that provides an integrated and closed loop corrective action process. In a manufacturing organization, when deviations,
nonconformance, out of specifications, quality incidents or customer complaints occur, corrective and preventive actions
need to be initiated to remedy the problems.
Once a quality problem has been identified, the first step is to initiate an investigation and to properly identify the root
cause of the problem. After the root cause has been identified, Corrective Action (CAPA) items are created and routed for
approval. When approved, appropriate changes are implemented in the environment and then the CAPA is closed out.
These changes may include amendments to a documented procedure, upgrading the skill set of an employee through a
training and certification process, or recalibrating the manufacturing equipment. In addition, the system may capture
COPQ associated with that non-conformance and use that information to initiate and complete a cost recovery process
with a supplier.
It is critical to deploy a closed-loop, integrated quality management system, rather than a set of loosely connected
modules from one or more vendors. Integration ensures that the information flows out the corrective action process with a
high degree of accuracy and velocity without falling through the cracks. It also ensures that the entire change control
process is auditable from end-to-end - a critical requirement to support 21CFR Part 11 requirement in FDA regulated
industries. Finally an integrated system ensures that audits become a core driver into the corrective action process and
become a key tool for continuous improvement.

Best Practice #6: Engaging Suppliers in quality systems

It is critical for manufacturers to engage suppliers in all aspects of their quality management system, so that the supplybase is fully integrated into the QMS being rolled out. Key requirements include:
Supplier should be able to provide quality-related data to the manufacturer without having to deploy a mandated quality
management system within their environment. This can be achieved by feeding information from suppliers quality system
into manufacturers quality system (for larger suppliers or ones sharing their production line with multiple customers) or
getting the supplier to use a manufacturers web-based quality management system (for smaller suppliers or ones with
dedicated lines for a customer). A web-based quality management system dramatically reduces the cost of ownership for
a supplier by providing the right information to a key customer without having to deploy software in-house.
Manufacturer should be able to get every relevant stakeholder within the supply base to use the quality system without
having to train every casual user. Emerging capability includes a scenario where an application form is embedded within
an email delivered by the system to the casual user at a supplier. When the user opens an email, they hit reply, enter the
data in the embedded form and hit send. The data in the form is processed by the system as if it came from the screen. As
a result the user does not need to learn to navigate the quality application, yet can participate in the quality system.
By deploying these best practices, manufacturers can dramatically improve their supplier quality and achieve their own
business objectives. Such practices have been implemented by world-class manufacturers using enterprise quality
management software. We invite you to take a look at MetricStreams software suite and see how our solution can help
you deploy such practices within your environment.