Process Input Material – The Easy to Miss Opportunity

With ground breaking technology innovation, there must a supply chain able to supply parts to support this invention to bring a dream product to the consumer.  Parts from supply must not only be able to support the required technology capabilities, it must also able to support the smooth production of innovative products.  Receiving consistent good quality material or part from upstream supplier should be the top priority for any manufacturer due to:-
  1. By time the part reaches the manufacturer and there is nothing can be done to impact the part form fit function.
  2. Material account for the highest cost breakdown of the finish parts
  3. Most of the line down are due poor quality material which impact the delivery schedule to the customer
  4. Hidden cost associated to reject materials; handling and returning reject material to the supplier which is related to quality cost.   A supplier might offer a cheaper cost material, if there is quality issues and because high warranty cost, total cost of ownership could double/triple the actual material cost. 

Among all the process inputs, material could be the most challenging input to control but can also be an input which is quite easy to manage.  The challenging part is because material is an external variation compare to other inputs which are within the vicinity of the manufacturing facility.  It is also an easy to miss opportunity as all suppliers need to follow is the rigor of controlling all 5 process input (man, machine, method, measure and environment) in their manufacturing process and incoming material.  If the cycle of controlling process inputs keep reiterate throughout the supply chain, then there will be less firefighting and more time can be spend on quality improvement.    Therefore a capable supplier quality engineer should be in place to ensure supplier have the appropriate control in place for all process inputs to ensure consistent quality part delivered to the SQE’s organization.

Process input material are from external source

What I had shared in the last few weeks are ideal state and sometimes ideal is not very easy to achieve when we have demand more than supply.  This is especially true situation where there are limited upstream suppliers for certain type of parts or single supplier who monopolize the whole market.  Sometimes it is not possible for an organization to practice sourcing strategy especially for contract manufacturer type of business.  Most contract manufacturers have to live with their customer poor or zero procurement strategy.  Most of contract manufacturers’ management does not know what is a  procurement strategy.  Having worked in the one of the world class sourcing strategy organization and also work in company with no sourcing planning made me realize the importance of the sourcing strategy.  Sourcing strategy will determine if the SQE is a true supplier quality engineer or a screening quality engineer.   Supplier quality engineer drive for improvement in the supplier manufacturing process.  Screening quality engineer screens supplier parts in his manufacturing line.

No matter where is the manufacturer tier in a supply chain, it is equally important to received consistent good quality material or part from upstream supplier as to produce consistently good quality product to customer.   There are a lot of organizations especially those that are nearest to consumer are plagued with bad quality part due to poor supplier management program in place.        

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