Control supplier quality with EQMS
Airbus SE recently made the headlines after terrifying footage of a motor disintegrating in mid-flight surfaced. Boeing faced a somewhat similar situation a few years ago when the company had to temporarily ground every 787 jet after a battery fire erupted on a plane in Boston and a smoldering battery disrupted a flight headed toward Japan. The problem came from low-quality components used by a subcontractor. Boeing had to spend $464,678 per plane and had to ground affected aircraft for more than 14 weeks. The aerospace giant relied on 50 top-tier suppliers to manufacture parts for the 787 aircraft but didn’t oversee subcontracting.
Boeing is not an isolated case. More companies rely on outsourcing and the process is becoming more and more complex. It is crucial to take ownership of your supply chain and to develop strong relations with suppliers. So, how do you best control supplier quality?
Approach outsourcing as a process
Outsourcing doesn’t mean that a section of your production process is out of your control. Outsourcing allows you to cut costs and to get access to production capabilities your organization does not possess, but you should play an active role in overseeing the entire supply chain. This might require a culture shift in your organization to start seeing outsourcing as an ever-changing process that requires continuous involvement.
Set your own expectations
Regulations developed by the United States Food and Drug Administration and equivalent foreign entities are often not sufficient. You can ensure that your own quality standards are met by developing your own set of best practices and testing procedures for your suppliers:
- Find suppliers who either have their own set of quality standards and testing procedures that meet or exceed your requirements or find partners willing to adapt to your quality expectations.
- Create a detailed quality agreement so suppliers know exactly what you expect. Update this agreement as needed.
- It is not possible to control supplier quality without communication and transparency. Have suppliers report to you regularly and share their quality data and internal audit results.
- Audit your suppliers regularly, address quality problems with data-driven solutions and follow up with interventions after your audits.
- Assess risks individually for each supplier since some have a more crucial role than others. Develop different sets of expectations and auditing processes, if needed.
Use a supplier quality management tool
Supplier quality management tools allow you to oversee complex outsourcing processes and ensure quality at every step. IQS offers a quality management tool that improves visibility and communication with U.S.-based and overseas suppliers. You can keep quality data in one place, share them with suppliers, track different quality metrics, collect analytics and integrate supplier quality management into other processes.
Analytics help you assess the costs of mistakes, identify your problem areas and get an overview of how suppliers are performing. You can use data from internal and from supplier audits to develop new solutions and track how successful these solutions are. This is the approach that will eventually drive your quality management process to maturity so your suppliers consistently meet and exceed your expectations.
Adopting a supplier quality management tool now will give you a head start on the next big thing in industrial tech. Your suppliers could soon invest in the Industrial Internet of Things and start using cloud-connected machines that can feed data directly into your management tools.
IQS offers a business tool that combines internal quality management capabilities with supplier performance management so you can ensure that each component of your supply chain meets your expectations. Request a demo if you want to find out how you can use these tools to control supplier quality.