Based on our unscientific observations, less than 2% of buying offices have equipped their QC inspectors with dedicated software. They are missing on a serious cost-cutting and time-saving tool.
Based on the feedback of the companies that have adopted our quality inspection software, there are 8 ways it reduces costs.
1. Avoid costly mistakes
The largest cost of a quality control team is… the cost of undetected problems. The result is often a batch of unsellable goods. Worse, it sometimes causes a loss of business (e.g. a large customer no longer trusts the organization to supply quality products, and stop giving orders).
That loss of business dwarves any of the costs generally accounted for. Imagine that a customer was generating 50,000 USD a year in profit. They were not a huge company but they were expected to keep buying for the coming 10 years. That loss amounts to half a million USD!
These types of mistakes can have many root causes. As we show in our e-book about the management of QC inspectors, a good software package forces people to work in a more structured manner, and this alone addresses many of those causes.
2. Collect statistics that help adjust the inspection plan for each manufacturer
Do you apply the same policy to all your suppliers (for instance, a final inspection on each shipment above 5,000 USD in value)?
This is based on the assumption that all your suppliers’ factories are equally (un)reliable. Probably not true…
By collecting statistics in a database and analyzing them, your quality inspection software will show you which manufacturers are unreliable… and which ones don’t need to be followed very closely.
From there, you can let the best suppliers self-inspect most of their shipments. You might need to provide a bit of training to their inspectors and/or to audit randomly what they do from time to time. But some companies can cut half their inspection budget, or more, by following this approach.
4. Collect statistics that help target (and fix) recurring issues
Another key benefit of collecting statistics in a database is the ability to show the most frequent quality problems, for each factory. And also the evolution of those problems over time.
Once this information is visible, suppliers can be asked to implement corrective actions in order to fix those issues once and for all. Imagine if your key suppliers improved their processes in a way that fixes their 2 or 3 most frequent issues. Would you need to inspect them constantly?
5. Save time on unnecessary paperwork
The average quality inspector spends about 1 hour a day on reporting. That’s a lot of time away from their key activity (checking products). If 1 inspector costs 15,000 USD a year (and more if travel expenses are counted) and do 7 hours of productive work a day, adding 1 hour a day of ‘real work’ is a gain of over 2,000 USD a year. For each inspector!
A good mobile quality inspection application can cut the reporting time to near zero, if the inspector inputs her findings (including taking photos/videos) at the same time she follows the checklist.
Actually we found some other benefits as well. In many cases, preparing a report for 6 SKUs is twice as much work as doing it for 3 SKUs. So inspectors typically say “this product is complex, so I can only check 3 SKUs in 1 day”. But once the constraint of preparing a report manually goes away, that same inspector can work on 4 or 5 SKUs in 1 day. Some jobs that used to take 2 days now only take 1 day!
6. Select quality inspectors for product knowledge, not for English level or QC experience
Many companies hire Chinese inspectors who can read & write reasonably good English and can prepare a full report. The typical inspector in many companies is a bachelor graduate who never worked in a factory, has very shallow product knowledge, and has already worked in that position for several years (this way, no need to train them).
The problem is, the salary requirements for these profiles will keep increasing at a fast pace.
How can software help? In two ways:
- Most of the findings are entered by ticking a box, selecting yes/no, and taking photos. Videos can illustrate many issues. No need for a high English proficiency.
- The inspector is guided through a workflow designed to avoid all the shortcuts that can lead to overlooking critical information… and releasing a batch of defective products. The training of a new inspector is still necessary but can be faster.
7. Cheaper and more convenient hardware
Inspectors can use their mobile application on a tablet, or on their smartphone. (At the beginning they might need a bluetooth keyboard, but it is usually not called for once they are used to typing on their screen.)
There is no need to buy a laptop. When the battery of the tablet/phone becomes a bit weak, replacing the battery is not very expensive.
8. Faster transmission of information
Forget about reports sent after 11pm. Forget about phone conversations with the quality manager, trying to understand the gist of the situation without full information… It is a great recipe for misunderstandings and poor decisions.
Welcome to Real-Time Quality Control TM. The mobile application sends the findings as soon as it is on wifi or on a cellular network. People in the office can see the information they need, with the full context (production status, other issues found, etc.).
How does this cut costs? First, it reduces mistakes. Second, pushing suppliers to fix some issues that were just detected, when the inspector is still on site and can monitor what happens, is more effective than pushing them the day after. And third, everybody gets the right information upfront and no time is wasted on the phone.
Overall, implementing a quality inspection software in your company is probably the best way to save costs. Not only does it make your QC process more structured and more reliable, and not only does it automate many time-consuming tasks, but it will give you the data you need to make the right decisions (and to back them up).