A fundamental principle of quality management is that “you should design and build quality on the inside, not inspect quality on the outside”. An important aspect of integrated quality is to start at the source with components and raw materials. Many manufacturers source most of their components, which means they have less control over the overall quality of their products. It is much easier to build a quality product if the parts used to build that product are of high quality than if they suffer from quality defects. A great way to ensure you are starting with quality raw materials is to implement asupplier quality management (SQM).

Supplier quality management is about more than requiring parts to meet specifications.

While most companies recognize that it takes quality materials to make quality products, their approach to supplier quality has traditionally been to inspect incoming items to ensure they meet purchase specifications. A best-in-class approach requires much more. An SQM program allows for a more collaborative approach to quality, in which the receiving organization takes a more proactive role in ensuring that the materials and services delivered meet expected quality requirements.

It begins at the product design stage and extends throughout the product lifecycle as an ongoing relationship with every participant in the manufacturing ecosystem. It is not limited to the quality of parts and services. A true SQM program incorporates the processes associated with the delivery of these parts, such as manufacturing processes, on-time delivery, and proper packaging to help maintain quality and proper handling during unpacking.

Also, quality management includes the process of selecting the right suppliers when designing products. This critical element is part of the Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) process.

You may be interested in this related article, How APQP Plays a Vital Role in a Digital Yarn .

As manufacturers integrate quality into their production processes, they must include the design of their suppliers’ production processes in their thinking. This is all part of product and process validation.

Supplier quality management is not limited to reducing the number of rejected components.

A well-designed SQM program does more than just deliver a steady stream of on-specification parts, although that in itself adds tremendous value. With a reliable supply of on-specification materials, the need for receiving inspection is reduced, saving time and money. This also results in less interruptions to manufacturing and therefore higher productivity.

One of the biggest benefits, however, is the ability to collaborate and share knowledge. When a supplier understands how their contributions are incorporated into a product, they can provide insights into how to best design components and how best to handle them during the manufacturing process. Likewise, when a manufacturer understands how parts are made and the intricacies of their design and manufacture, they can often work closely with the supplier to refine component designs or manufacturing processes, a win-win situation. winner.

Digital yarn enables high performance SQM

The main underlying technology to achieve such a degree of collaboration and realize the benefits described above is the digital thread . The ability to share information accurately and in a timely manner is essential for all manufacturers. If issues arise at the supplier, an SQM solution is essential to communicate both the defect and the steps for resolution. This is not only real-time access to production data, but also a historical record of the item, from manufacture to final assembly. This is what gets the most out of an SQM solution.

When a manufacturer has access to detailed information about the quality of every incoming component, at any level of manufacturing, they can be assured that their production processes will run more smoothly. When a supplier knows the details of the production request, he can better meet his obligations for on-time delivery of these components. That way, it’s easy to see why supplier quality management is the first building block of not just a quality strategy, but an entire manufacturing program as well. Whether you are at the beginning of the value chain, an OEM or the final manufacturer before delivery to the end user, your suppliers have a definite impact on your performance.

Kim Archibald has more than a decade of experience in aerospace manufacturing and defense, gained working at Boeing Defense, Lockheed Martin and space startup Virgin Orbit. As a frequent speaker, Kim leverages her industry expertise to help manufacturers navigate their digital transformation journey. She is currently responsible for solutions engineering at iBASEt.

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