How to improve the quality control of your supply chain

When a customer purchases a product of any nature, is confident that it has been produced in accordance with all the safety or manufacturing guarantees which are expected from it. For this reason, companies are concerned that all their products meet quality standards to compete in the market and comply with health and safety laws.

Companies usually have quality control departments, others just hire other companies that work especially on this subject. Quality control is one of the most important stages of the supply chain because it offers security for both the company and the end customer. It consists of making sure that all the mechanisms, actions, and tools conform to minimum manufacturing and operating requirements so that the product arrives with a warranty to its consumption or use. If the product does not meet all of these standards, it will be discarded, destroyed, or returned, and, in some cases, the company that manufactures it could even face legal problems.

If your organization already has a quality control system, it is very important that you do everything as possible to improve it continuously. In this post, I wish to talk about how you can improve the quality control of your supply chain.

The starting point here is directly related to the idea that every failure in the supply chain has a root cause, and that such causes can be prevented (which will always be cheaper in the long run.) In this regard, the basic strategy to improve the quality of the supply chain has four essential steps. The first one is to reduce costs through failure by solving problems. The second one is about investing in the right preventive activities. The third one is reducing evaluation costs when feasible and on a statistical basis. Finally, the last step of this basic strategy is to continually evaluate and amend the prevention efforts in order to optimize quality on an ongoing basis.

Read also: Strategies To Boost The Efficiency Of The Supply Chain, by David Kiger

So, when you detect the area of the entire supply chain in which you have to fix a problem (for example, the temperature of the refrigerators in the shipping containers is not adequate), then you must organize a project team. There are two types of problems here. The first are those that can be solved within a department without the help of third parties. The second kind, a little more complicated and urgent, are those that require the coordinated intervention of one or more areas of support. The problems of the first type do not require a response system as complicated as the second one. In general, there is already a security protocol or action plan to solve the problem in question, so that it does not affect the rest of the supply chain. However, most of the problems belong to the second type, and, for this reason, it is necessary to create a support team.

As your organization is not the exception to the general rule, it is best to form a support group made up of representatives from different areas of your company who can offer solutions and draw up a contingency plan in case the problem is present again in the same or similar circumstances, or in other areas of the organization.

Now, it’s critical that you define whether the quality control program you want to implement in your organization is really beneficial. Remember that all this involves time, money, and other resources, and they may not approve it. If the company directives do not approve the whole program, you may focus on solving the most urgent issues (gas leak, for example.) In the case of large organizations with very complex logistical processes, any detailed examination and analysis of the data of costs indicate that the evaluation costs are quite high. So keep that in mind.

Recommended: Quality Control Techniques

Present the problem to the company directives and convince them of the need to execute that program. You have high chances of success if you do know the problem well and you test a single product line or a single department related to it. Deciding which area is suitable for conducting the test that will convince the organization’s managers depends on your good judgment, but, above all, on how much potential has such an area to yield significant results quickly. If it’s approved, then measure quality costs, determine appropriate ratios and rates, set trend analysis charts, identify opportunities for improvement, assign functions to your support team, and finally write detailed reports of the entire process.

Fairphone quality control check_logistics_supply chain
“Creative Commons Fairphone quality control check” by Fairphone is licensed under CC BY BY-NC-SA

When you complete the initial test, you can proceed to expand the cost of the quality program to include the entire organization. It is possible that the quality costs after this process increase and the reason is that everyone will have more efficient information about the problems that may occur in the supply chain. But that extra cost is worth, considering all the difficulties that you can help to avoid for the whole company, and, of course, for the end customer.

I hope this information has been helpful to you.

* Featured Image courtesy of Automotive Rhythms at Flickr.com

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