Tag: factory

Supplier Selection & Management: What You Need To Know

Our latest quarterly newsletter Feature Article discussed strategic supplier selection. Due to the response we’ve had, we wanted to follow-up on our blog.

We were surprised to discover many of our newsletter subscribers didn’t know a variety of options existed for gaining additional assurances when going through the supplier selection process.

Determining which option you leverage involves the level of risk you’re willing to take in the process.

What are the options?

Legal Verification

The most basic information that you will want to have verified by an external source includes legal verification. Is the supplier legally able to partner and produce products for you? It becomes less clear how to do that when you’re looking at potential suppliers abroad. Using a 3rd party with local access is often preferred due to the cost and time required to execute internally.

Credit Standing

Another indicator of performance is generally an organization’s credit rating.

Supplier Verification

Does the supplier exist, and are they observably consistent with the information they provided. For example:

  • How many employees work there?
  • How many years have they been in business?
  • Who are their top three customers and what percent of sales do they make up?
  • Do they have any certifications?
  • What does the factory look like?
  • What equipment is available on-site?
  • How many production lines are there?
  • Do they subcontract anything to other suppliers?
  • What is their product capacity?

Supplier Audit 

This on-site evaluation is performed by a quality professional that specializes in evaluating quality management systems.  The idea is to gain assurances on a number of applicable topics through objective evidence.  In general, the auditor looks at the following and provides a comparative analysis of conformances and non-conformances:

  • Management
  • Engineering
  • QC & Assurance
  • Incoming Receiving Inspection
  • Manufacturing
  • Packaging
  • Non-Conforming Materials
  • Corrective Action
  • Inspection & Test Equipment

Specialized Audits

Depending on your industry or other factors, specialized audits may be required. For example, many stakeholders now demand organizations support their social responsibility claims with on-site audits. SA8000 or social-based audits specialize in topics related specifically to the workforce and human rights issues.  Other examples include:

  • Automotive ISO/TS 16949
  • Medical Devices ISO 13485
  • Environmental ISO 14001
  • GMP

Combination Audits

It’s often possible to create a combination audit to address certain components of multiple areas. For example, due to cost considerations, a company may prefer to combine the social accountability components with a more general QMS review.

Contact us for more information! Share with us how you select suppliers…

How well are your suppliers performing?

03b46b56-b77c-4008-9e90-9ad4cfd1f3cfIn a recent post, we discussed several New Year’s goals that we frequently hear from clients and prospects around this time of year.  One of the most common is evaluating and improving supplier performance.

We know that suppliers may appear qualified at first and then fail to deliver the required quality after time and money have been invested in project development. Other suppliers have many of the desired capabilities for your projects but are inconsistent in quality and performance. Supplier switching costs can be very high and risks to quality and delivery unacceptable.

Juran describes the process of supplier evaluation as:

  • The evaluation of product samples
  • The evaluation of the supplier’s manufacturing process

So, how well are your suppliers performing?

Ray Carter, director of DPSS Consultants, first outlined his Seven Cs of Supplier Evaluation in a 1995 article in “Purchasing and Supply Management.” He later added three new Cs to the model.

The 10 Cs are:

  • Competency
  • Capacity
  • Commitment
  • Control
  • Cash
  • Cost
  • Consistency
  • Culture
  • Clean
  • Communication

This article was published in ‘The Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management,’ Carter, R., ‘The Seven C’s of Supplier Evaluation,’ 44-46, © Elsevier (1995).

At Pro QC, one of our primary services is Supplier Development.  In this partnership, we assist clients by evaluating suppliers on-site and conducting assessments that vary based on industry and/or other requirements. For example, automotive audits generally follow the TS 16949 standard. We advocate third-party assessment here to gain the benefits of auditor experience and objectivity.

Experienced auditors provide detailed reports that can be used in the comprehensive evaluation process.  In addition, corrective action items are often noted and checked during follow-up or during a regularly scheduled assessment.

Pre-production, in-process and final pre-shipment quality inspections provide useful data for ongoing performance.  With inspection data, suppliers are evaluated based on defects noted, delays in shipments, etc.

Supplier rating systems are common. From a single quality rating to multiple variable, incorporating a rating system provides for objectivity and comparison. Variables might include on-time delivery, customer service, inspection data, total cost, etc.

Our original article about New Year’s goals can be found here. What are your quality goals for 2015?

New Year, New Goals… 2015 Quality Goals

As 2014 comes to a close, we are considering the quality goals and objectives we’ve discussed with our clients and partners regarding ongoing improvement in the coming year.  Some examples shared with us include:

  • Establish and/or improve a supplier performance evaluation process
  • Develop and implement corrective action based on factory and inspection data analysis
  • More effectively communicate support for quality throughout the organization
  • Review and/or develop detailed product specification information to reduce discrepancies or other issues
  • Avoid delays in shipments
  • Review and analyze processes to identify bottlenecks and/or develop documentation

What are your quality goals for 2015?  

At Pro QC, we help our clients meet their quality goals and objectives. Contact us for additional information regarding how we reduce quality risks and cost. 




What are our quality engineers doing on-site during inspections?

QualityInspectionWordCloudWe receive questions relating to quality inspections and the inspection process quite often.

One of the most common questions we receive concerns the benefits of inspecting product for quality prior to shipment.  The short answer is that inspections reduce overall quality risks and cost!

Another question we receive often relates to what happens during a product inspection? What do our quality engineers do on-site?

For us, each product is treated differently depending on specifications and/or other client requirements.  We work closely with our clients to develop the specifications that help guide our inspectors on-site.  However, there are a few consistent components that include:

Quantity Verification

  • Is everything packaged? Our general rule is 100% produced and 80% packaged for a pre-shipment, final inspection.
  • Failure to meet expectations for quantity can result in a “missed” inspection result.

For more information regarding the difference between first-article, in-process and pre-shipment inspections, read our article here.

Packaging – Labeling (Master Carton + Retail) 

  • Is the packaging free of any defects?
  • Is a drop-test required for packaging integrity evaluation? This reduces the likelihood of damage during transit.
  • Does the packaging meet client and/or other specifications?
  • Are there any safety concerns, such as suffocation warnings required on certain polybags?

We have written a few articles regarding packaging that provide more detail here:

Workmanship – Visual 

  • Are defects within the Acceptable Quality Limits? A random sample is pulled to evaluate for cosmetic/workmanship defects.
  • Inspectors use a checklist to assist with defect identification and classification.
  • Defects noted are categorized as either major, minor or critical.

We have written a few articles regarding classifying defects and determining AQLs that provide more detail here:

Functional – Assembly – Testing 

  • Does the product work as indicated? A reduced sample is usually pulled for functional testing, as applicable.
  • Inspectors verify that the product assembles and functions as indicated by any inserts/manuals.
  • Inspectors verify applicable measurements such as dimensions and weight.  For textiles, it may be stitches per inch, or other as determined by the type of product.


  • Inspectors take detailed photos of the facility, product, packaging, labeling and defects noted.
  • Clients can compare our photos with their samples or otherwise have photographic evidence.

Additional articles we have written that provide more insight into this topic include:


Tips on quality from Bentley

We recently discovered a video discussing quality control at a Bentley Mulsanne factory.  As a 3rd party quality assurance and engineering firm, we do a significant amount of work in the automotive industry.  From TS 16949 audits to product inspections, it’s an industry we know places value on quality.

Of course, Bentley is synonymous with quality, representing to many the highest of automotive luxury. For Bentley, “the attention to detail is what defines a valued, quality product.”

“Spec check”

When the cars in this video come off the line, they make sure everything matches the specification.  Non-conformances are flagged and logged.  This can take up to an hour and half.  During another process check, anything flagged is taken care of.

From a previous post:

Inspection Plan Development
A good plan is only as good as its foundation, so a comprehensive and detailed product specification is critical to the success of the overall strategy.  Pro QC often assists clients with this documentation creation and also uses it internally to direct engineers on-site.  A good plan incorporates anything that will affect the salability and performance of the product.


Test drive

While a 100% inspection isn’t reasonable for every product, each Bentley at this factory receives a forty minute test drive. Any non conformances are resolved to the highest standard of quality.

At Pro QC, we use ANSI Z1.4 sampling.  We often receive questions about this and wanted to cross-reference another article discussing sampling here.

Quality first

It takes one to two weeks to complete the full quality check for these Bentleys.  That’s more time than it takes to produce the cars.

“In a true zero-defects approach, there are no unimportant items.” ~Philip Crosby

Here’s the video:

The Bentley Mulsanne production line is worth a look as well:

We love manufacturing quality!