When we look at most supply chains that include manufacturing in China, we see serious issues with data exchange, analysis, and usage for decision making.
Let’s look at a typical supply chain model and see where the problems lie.
Traditional supply chain issues
A product is purchased, produced, tested, shipped and delivered. It typically involves multiple businesses.
This graph illustrates how it is typically structured:
The lack of analysis of production issues, and the lack of feedback to the originator(s)
of the issues, have several consequences:
- Issues are seldom fixed at the root. People are often blamed, but the system is not improved. (Retraining or changing the operator, in itself, does not address a root cause.)
- Since issues are not fixed at the root, they come back again and again.
- The buyer doesn’t even really know what was checked by the supplier (lack of transparency).
In-process controls, final product inspections, sourcing, product design, and other
important functions are NOT seen as part of the same system. No feedback to the originator
of the issue means no improvement in the long term.
A production batch passes through several quality control checkpoints, but the lack of cohesion means that they’re all effectively working in isolation and very little is learned over time.
Not to mention, quality information is often logged on paper… or not logged at all. There is very little use of dedicated quality control software.
What would a more tightly integrated supply chain look like?
How to avoid these issues?
It is possible to structure your supply chain to ensure proper communication, analysis, and follow-up procedures, and, in the end, ensure better quality.
Here is how it could be set up with help from appropriate quality control software:
Information flows more organically:
- For manufacturing issues, it back to the previous link(s) in the chain (quick feedback about issues found) – including sub-suppliers.
- For design issues, it goes down to the designers & engineers.
Information is logged and is traceable. It can be analysed, and the proper reaction (containment, corrections, corrective actions…) can be set in motion with very little time lag.
Does it take more staff? Actually, the opposite is true. As information is captured in a digital manner and doesn’t need to be typed, much non-value-added work can be eliminated in factories.
Have Your Say...
What about your supply chain? Do you recognize some symptoms shown in graph 1? What types of issues does it create? Have you taken steps to make it more cohesive, such as using a dedicated quality inspection software solution?