Tag: defects

Avoiding Product Recalls

downloadOver the years, we’ve had our share of inquiries related to organizations seeking to resolve a recall situation.  While many of these calls are reactive, a proactive approach is recommended to avoid the cost and overall impact to stakeholders.

How can you avoid product recalls? 

Know Product Safety Requirements –  Avoiding recalls generally starts with product design and specification development. Due diligence is required to determine if any applicable testing is required depending on the market in which it will be sold. Contacting a testing lab for a general inquiry is worth the time and effort. Researching ANSI and ASTM standards is also advised.  A third party’s expertise can also be leveraged here and specifications development/testing can be outsourced.

Know Your Suppliers – Supplier selection is a critical component in the quality process. Verifying suppliers and performing an on-site evaluation adds an additional level of assurance. Considerations include:

What types of defects occur most often during inspections?

Over the last three decades, we have inspected an innumerable amount of orders for clients looking to mitigate sourcing risk and uncertainty. As a result, one question we receive often regards identifying trends or commonalties among defects noted.

We asked two of our key team members in Ningbo, China what the most commonly noted issues during inspections include:

“Workmanship is the most common issue due to the variation.”  ~Cynthia Liu (Business Team Manager)

“Inconsistency in production.” ~Nick Chen (Technical Supervisor)

Although each product is unique, we are able to classify our observations by general industry. During inspections, defects are generally classified as major, minor or critical.  More on classifying defects here.

Common defects noted by industry includes:

Textile & Garment Quality: Inspecting a T-Shirt

We are preparing for TexWorld next week in NYC and thought it appropriate to revisit quality within the textile and garment industry.  A recent question we received related to what we would evaluate during a t-shirt inspection.  That’s a good question…

With order details and product specifications in hand, our experienced textile/garment quality engineers go on-site and first verify the order quantity available. We confirm the quantity packaged (and labeled) vs. not packaged. That matters because a pre-shipment inspection generally requires 80% of the order be packaged at the time of inspection.  An in-process inspection is scheduled around 30-50% complete.

If the verified quantity meets the client’s expectations, the inspector will select a random sample of items using ANSI Z1.4 as a standard.  With something like t-shirts, we determine how the client would like sampling in advance. Considerations include various sizes, colors and/or styles.  Many times, clients will combine theses variables and divide out the sample size proportionately. Sampling individually results in additional time on-site and for reporting, so supplier performance/history and cost are considerations when determining what the sample sizes should be.

3 Ways to Use Defect Data to Drive Improvement

Our quality engineers collect data from supplier locations all over the world, and we encourage our clients to get as much value as possible from our reporting to drive overall improvements and support successful supplier partnerships.

Consider the simplified example of conducting weekly pre-shipment inspections of one product at a single supplier site.  The information provided in the product specification determines the defects and whether they are major, minor or critical, which the quality engineer checks for on-site when evaluating the random samples.  An accept, reject or on-hold determination is made for each inspection based on the AQLs and other factors, but defect data can be tracked over time to add value over just the individual shipment result alone.

Here are three ways to get more from defect data:

1) Evaluate a check sheet or other data chart over a period of time such as the basic information below.

CheckSheetExample_Defects

DefectPercents

2) Visualize the information to observe and compare trends over any determined period of time.

Monthly_DefectData

3) Incorporate multiple suppliers to target improvement efforts at each location.  For example, is one supplier exceeding at meeting expectations in one or more areas where others are not?  Why? Use quality tools to further examine root causes and generate corrective actions.

SupplierComparisonThese examples only scratch the surface of what can be captured from quality inspection reports.  Each organization is unique and can determine how to select the data most relevant to goals and objectives.