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Supply Chain Variations beyond the manufacturing facility Part 1

All the process input (4Ms, 1E) variations except material which I have wrote about for the past few months are confined to the manufacturing vicinity.  Most of the products get VIP treatment during their product life cycle in manufacturing facilities.  All people involve in the transformation process are taught to handle the product with Tender Loving Care and sometimes there are custom made carrier to transport product  in production floor.  However there are not many thoughts had being given to the external factor which can contribute to the product quality.  As quality engineering professional for the past 30 years,  I have resolved more quality issues related to the root cause contributed beyond the manufacturing process than root cause due to manufacturing process 5Ms. 

There are 3 major source of variations beyond manufacturing facility :-

Variation beyond manufacturing process
Main contributor
Major issues
Before product is made
Design
Manufacturability
After product is shipped before solde
Logistic Transportation
Storage
Design
Handling damage
Shelf life expire
Product changes
Easy to damage
After product is being sold to consumer
Design
Poor manufacturing control
Handling damage
Safety
Reliability

Product must be designed before it can be made into reality. Design of the product should not only focus on ground breaking feature which will delight customer,  it must also take into consideration whether it can be mass produced with realistic specification to get consistent good quality product. The design must be robust enough to withstand handling throughout the supply chain before reaching end user.  The major culprit for quality issues is poor design.  No matter how well a manufacturing process is controlled, it can never compensate for the poor design of a product.

There are not many thoughts being put in to what happen to the product after it leave the manufacturing facilities.  Definitely the product will not get the VIP treatment it is getting in the factory.  Logistic company who knows about quality engineering hardly exist,  there will be a uncontrolled process input exist in transportation process and storage.  All those uncontrolled process inputs will potentially impact the product such as damage packaging and parts.  The most common action to mitigate the risk contributed by transportation is packaging design to protect the goods.  A good protective packaging design should be a basic requirement,  however it should not be the only mitigation plan. 


For some companies  facing chronic  issues contributed from product movement thru supply chain,  it is advisable to set up a dedicated team to work with the logistic service provider.  This would include data collection to track the current issues which serve as quality metrics and use quality planning principle to minimize issue.  Design of experiment methodology can be used for this purpose as well.

Manufacturing facility within an organization is the visible tip of the iceberg  and the supplier chain beyond the manufacturing facility which hidden underneath could be a major contributor of quality issues and waste.   More to be uncovered in the next article.

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