Tag: qc

Pet Industry Trends: Quality Considerations

A love for our furry friends is shared among Pro QC teams across the globe. In fact, international trends are consistent.” World pet markets are growing at a dramatic rate, with a number of countries witnessing higher than ever pet ownership and spending.”

Euromonitor reports that the world pet market arena in India is expected to grow at a 10-15% annual rate in the coming years and is projected to eventually become a leading supplier of pet products around the world. Brazil has one of the largest pet populations in the world, with a sales increase of 12-17% each year. Within the U.S., the American Pet Products Association (APPA) offers a look at the pet industry expenditures from 1994 to 2016. The growth of the spending on the pet industry has been referred to as quite staggering. In fact, even in years in which the economy dipped into recession, Americans made their pets a priority and spending steadily increased. In 1994, the APPA says Americans spent $17 billion on their pets. By 2016, spending nearly quadrupled to an estimated $62.75 billion. By 2020, the pet industry could hit $96 billion in sales.

Trends predicted in the pet industry include an increase in “pet tech” items and more product choices. One of the biggest trends at Global Pet Expo was an increased amount of choice, with many products refreshed with new colors, styles and designs. “From food products to apparel to toys to gear, there’s something for every individual person and pet.”

As the industry grows, safety and quality requirements become an increasing consideration. Quality solutions offered to the industry include:

Supplier Evaluations: Visit the factory prior to working with them to determine if they will meet your requirements/expectations.

An example Initial Supplier Evaluation can be found here as an example. Learn more about the supplier audit process here

QC Inspections: Inspect the product prior to production, in-process, or pre-shipment. Ensure product meets expectations. From animal furniture, toys, beds/bedding, kennels, apparel and more, experienced QC professionals can visit suppliers on-site to identify shipment issues early . Inspections generally include a check for workmanship/cosmetic defects, functionality, packaging, labeling, etc.

Learn more about QC inspections here. 

Product Testing: Check products for materials content, or to ensure other safety features like resistance to corrosion. Weather testing and lifecycle testing also assist in the product design process.  Evaluate per various national and international standards and regulations.

Continuous Improvement: Recurring issues are identified and often evaluated through root causes analysis. Improvement plans can address issues and work to resolve ongoing.

Resources cited:

Trends for 2017 in the Pet Industry

The World’s Pet Markets Trend

Reflecting on the Advantages of Technology on QC…

This month represents six years of blogging and sharing quality news and insight. Pro QC has provided QC services for over three decades and has seen the emergence of technology within the industry and the significant advantages organizations have today as a result.

A few notable advances in technology we’ve seen over the years includes:

1984: When Pro QC started in 1984, scheduling requests were primarily handled by fax and were hand written.  During that time, the cost of international long distance prohibited frequent team communications among regions. Communications were slow, and calls were short.

1996: The Pro QC website went live in 1996. The Wayback Machine is a fun resource for seeing snapshots of websites over time.  Pro QC’s website went live as a static page with a list of services and over the years has developed into a value-adding resource for industry professionals, offering example reports, informative videos, white papers, and more.

1998: Digital photos were provided with inspection and audit reports in 1998. Photos provided additional visual details for clients and often avoided having samples sent for additional visual evaluation.

2007: The first quarterly newsletter that Pro QC emailed out was in June of 2007. Pro QC’s clients and partners now had a way of keeping up with the company’s activities and gained access to additional content related to the industry. Today, the quarterly newsletter is distributed to over 7,000 subscribers.

2010: The services database went live in 2010 and allowed clients access to reports anytime, anywhere. This also provided clients with an effective way to transfer large files such as product specifications and/or drawings via Pro QC’s FTP.

2011: Pro QC engaged in social media via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter in 2011. This allowed more shared information and added value to clients and others. Social media continues to be a way for us to connect with our clients, learn and give back to the industry.

2012: Pro QC’s clients and/or their partners were able to schedule services online in 2012.

2015: Applicants interested in working with Pro QC must complete a series of hiring and subsequent e-training modules. Virtual training allows us to work with quality professionals in remote areas and ensure professional development among the global team. Online predictive analysis assessments provides additional support for hiring and retention.

2016: Pro QC accepts payments online making solutions more accessible.  Pro QC also starts providing video content with audits and/or inspections when requested and permissible.

2017: Today, auditors and inspectors have tablets that can be taken on-site for reporting that saves time and improves the overall output quality. Regional teams have the ability to video conference and screen share anytime, making regular communications more viable and productive. Technology connects us with our clients and partners and continues to serve as a competitive advantage within the marketplace.

 

Too much quality?

Wichita’s NPR station recently focused an OnWords piece related to quality.

Consider the following:

“You can usually tell that an organization has stopped caring about quality when it becomes the only thing they talk about.”

As quality professionals, we revel in the fact that organizations might be talking too much about quality. In that scenario, we have won and finally impressed the message that quality is indeed everyone’s responsibility.

And, is there really such a thing as too much data? Of course we know there is, but most quality engineers are going to revert to Deming:

“In god we trust, all others bring data.” 

The last comment in this piece is compelling though:

“So if it seems like a quality improvement plan has pulled all the passion out of your product, perhaps you should go back and ask what quality means for the product you sell.”

This is noted as consistent with the Plan > Do > Check < Act (PDCA) cycle and sums up the nature of continuous improvement nicely.

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning.” ~Benjamin Franklin

 

Resolving issues w/ QC in the textile/garment industry

The International Journal of Information, Business and Management recently reported on the garment industry and the impact on quality in the current environment.

Garment factories in Bangladesh have been the site of rights abuses and fatal accidents. The industry also faces its share of traditional business challenges, including mounting international competition and a lack of formal quality management systems, researcher Hasanuzzaman writes. Common challenges to adopting quality management systems – such as Six Sigma – include a lack of financial resources, infrastructure, and education, according to the author’s interviews with factory managers. Those who had implemented quality management, however, reported better customer and employee satisfaction, better waste management, and faster delivery.

CGMA Magazine highlights the ongoing issues noted in the textile/garment supply chain despite attempts to implement corrective actions via quality management:

The industry is also struggling to confront unsafe conditions in its supply chain. In 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh, which housed factories making garments for global brands, collapsed. More than 1,100 people were killed, and thousands more were injured. Since then, driven partly by media and consumer pressure, the industry has attempted to prevent and remedy the dangers to its workforce. The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh was drawn up with much fanfare and signed by more than 200 clothing brands. Factories were inspected, and corrective action plans were put in place. However, 1,401 of the 1,646 factories covered by the accord are behind schedule on these tasks, according to the Accord’s quarterly report dated July 2016.

As an industry faced with these issues, ensuring product quality control and a stable quality management system can be especially challenging.

Recommendations to improve quality in both the short and long-term include:

Focus on supplier selection

  • Consider various regions and their reputation for quality and overall sustainability/social responsbility .
  • Verify potential supplier’s capabilities and environment with an on-site assessment. View an example SR report and an Initial Supplier Evaluation.
  • Contact other clients working with the supplier.

Conduct ongoing inspections & data analysis

  • Depending on how comfortable you are with the supplier, first-article, in-process and pre-shipment inspections can be employed.  A previous blog post reported on common issues we note during textile/garment inspections.
  • Evaluate inspection data on a periodic basis to drive continuous improvement efforts. Consider the 80/20 rule for monthly management.

For additional information, a comprehensive article discussing all aspects of textile/garment quality can be be found here. Akter HossainDepartment of Textile Engineering at Daffodil International University offers several insights and recommendations.

For more information regarding how Pro QC can assist with supplier selection and on-site quality control, contact us or visit our website at here.

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.”