There are 5 tips that we can offer if you’re in this situation:
1) Set reduced AQL limits (but the supplier might refuse).
I know of a large company in the garment industry that sets the AQL limit at 0.65% for major defects. Most people (especially suppliers) say it’s unheard of. And of course, most garment factories refuse to work with those large companies. But setting a reduced AQL is possible if your volumes are high and you can accept a slightly higher price.
You may find this video helpful to understand which AQL limits to set for your products:
2) Define what major defect, minor defect, and “no defect” are in a stricter manner.
The supplier is less likely to refuse this outright than reducing the AQL. However, once they see the consequences (many defects classified more severely than they think is appropriate), expect some pushback.
Learn more about what makes a good quality standard here:
3) You could follow inspection level III
By opting for a higher inspection level (level II is the default level which is used for around 90% of all product inspections), or maybe even higher (if you have access to Minitab you can adjust the limiting quality as suggested here), you will be conducting stricter QC inspections by checking more samples and therefore lowering the chances for defects to slip through.
A higher inspection level is great if you’re suffering from really poor quality from your supplier, or have high-quality goods where quality issues simply cannot be tolerated.
Explore the different inspection levels in this video:
4) Do a random inspection and follow it up with a 100% inspection
You could do a random inspection first, and find the defects that seem to be reoccurring. Then, in a second step, you could do a 100% check (on the whole batch) that only focuses on the 1 or 2 most frequent defects found in the random inspection. (If you do a 100% check for all defects, it takes much longer.)
By deploying the 100% inspection to focus only on recurring defects you save time and money while getting the maximum benefit from the stricter inspection.
5) Request your supplier to work with a consulting company.
If you are a relatively large customer, you could request the manufacturer to work with a consulting company in order to drive improvements. This way, they will put in place the process controls they need, as well as a proper quality system.
These are the main options that come to my mind. Do you have any to add? Please let me know in the comments.
P.S. If you want to avoid stricter QC inspections completely…
Remember, if you are not happy with your supplier, you should pick another one. I know it sounds very condescending, but one can’t turn a donkey into a racehorse…
You should read this blog post about vetting suppliers where we share a number of our podcast episodes that will help you to find suppliers who won’t give you as many quality issues, to begin with:
Editor’s note: This post is based on earlier blog post from QualityInspection.org, but has been adjusted, edited, and published here for Sofeast readers.
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