Tag: outsourcing

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:

  • Management
    • Is there a quality manual, and how are people trained?
  • Engineering
    • Are there control systems and a formal system of using updated drawings/specs?
  • Quality Control
    • Is there a quality department, and how much ultimate repsonsiblity do they have?
  • Incoming QC
    • Are raw materials inspected, and is inspection equipment calibrated?
  • Packaging
    • Are they packaged to prevent damaged and properly labeled?
  • Non-Conforming Materials
    • Is there a specific area for non-conforming materials and applicable training for handling/reporting?
  • Corrective Action
    • Is corrective action properly communicated, documented and follow-up on?
  • Manufacturing
    • Is there documentation, a maintenance program, etc.?

View an example Initial Supplier Evaluation report here to get a better idea of the basics when considering a potential partner.

Don’t Skip Inspections – Even the most highly rated suppliers have been known to release a shipment or two with quality issues that somehow went unseen. Some of these quality concerns can end up being safety issues that can easily result in recalls or other rework/warranty situations.  For an added level of assurance, incorporate pre-shipment inspections. These happen when the shipment is 100% produced and 80% packaged. So, you’re able to confirm visual/workmanship issues, functionality and packaging integrity issues.

View example QC inspection reports here to get a better idea of what’s included in the final evaluation of product.

For additional information regarding avoiding recalls and ensuring quality, contact us.

Recent recalls are listed on the CPSC site here.  “The CPSC fulfills its mission by banning dangerous consumer products, establishing safety requirements for other consumer products, issuing recalls of products already on the market, and researching potential hazards associated with consumer products.

A global site is also available here.  “The GlobalRecalls portal brings together information on product recalls being issued around the world, on a regular basis, together in one place – on an OECD platform.”

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…

Benefits of Outsourcing: 3PQ Value

There are a considerable number of benefits associated with outsourcing.  As a third-party quality assurance provider (3PQ), we ultimately seek to be an extension of our clients’ organizations.  In reducing sourcing risks and cost, this partnership has significant value:

[Untitled]We reached out to a few of our key clients and asked for their opinion regarding the value of outsourcing quality…

“With an expanding business, we needed to ensure that the quality of our products were checked and maintained at a high level all year round. Lowe Alpine has a long history as a trusted gear supplier, and we want that to continue. Pro QC has helped us to achieve this with the provision of professional inspection staff and detailed and clear reporting procedures.” 

Rob McLellan, Senior Developer (Packs Design), Lowe Alpine

“We’ve used Pro QC to sort out problems when customers have complained, along with using Pro QC inspection data as a guideline along with data from our clients in order to define skip-lot intervals. We use Pro QC to make our suppliers better. Some of our clients have visited and audited the suppliers and can’t believe the improvements in quality and conformance.”

Paul Pechacek, Corporate Quality Engineer, Waterloo

“QA is tremendously important, and we didn’t have the process in place with our vendors in Asia other than relying on the suppliers to make the highest quality products. We wanted someone who could independently represent us in reviewing processes and checking final goods. Pro QC is our outsource QA department worldwide.”

Jeffrey Breeden, COO & Chief Merchant, Cooks Direct

“With Pro QC we now have a global partner that truly understands what it takes to achieve high quality standards. They have helped us develop our quality standards and set objectives. In addition, we look to Pro QC to help us in communicating methods and processes that help assure our quality needs are met consistently.”

John Diorio, VP of Supply Chain Management, Meadowcraft

“We consult on a regular basis and especially when we are approaching a new manufacturer or a new development project. We normally visit our perspective suppliers together and join our expertise in what I call the ‘supplier picking’ art. Once in production, the inspection, audit and follow-up activity are precious to stabilize the quality output so that we have a smooth delivery flow.”

Pierangelo Laghi, Product & Process Quality Manager, Technogym

To read more testimonials, visit our website here. 

How do you gain value from outsourcing quality? 

Ask us: The 5W1H of Product Quality Control

One of the most commonly used quality tools is 5W1H, “a method of asking questions about a process or a problem taken up for improvement.” This socratic questioning method is said to be rooted in Rudyard Kipling’s poem:

I keep six faithful serving men

(They taught me all I knew);

Their names are What and Why and When

And How and Where and Who.

Using 5W1H, we have developed a list of the most common questions we receive from inquiries regarding their product quality control initiatives.  Ask us for more information, and let us know if you have any questions to add.

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