Sofeast’s CEO Renaud Anjoran and Adrian from the team are back and talking about something else you don’t want to experience but may if you’re unfortunate. A failed product inspection!
Renaud will explain to you why the type of inspection matters, a step-by-step process to follow to fix problems highlighted by a product inspection report now, and how to put corrective and preventive actions in place to stop the problem from reoccurring in future production runs.
Listen to the post here:
🎧 What to do when a product inspection fails?
What kind of inspection failed?
The earlier the inspection in the manufacturing cycle, the less damage has been done. For example, a failed first article inspection on electro-mechanical products will highlight issues that can be corrected fairly easily and have positive effects on all or the majority of production and it’s not such a serious issue. On the other hand, a failed inspection after production has finished is a big problem because you may have tens of thousands of products in cartons ready to ship which then need to be held up, and that’s bad for all parties (so we’ll focus on final inspections moving forward). (01:56)
Actions you need to take to fix the problem/s now if a final inspection has been failed.
People are most affected by failures late on in the manufacturing cycle or when the products are ready to ship, so here’s what you need to do at that point. These actions will fix a problem in the short term after it has been found by an inspector: (03:42)
1. Insist that the manufacturer does NOT ship anything until the matter has been investigated and settled.
They may try to ship quickly so they get paid or don’t have to deal with the issue/s, or they may simply disagree with the inspector’s findings and believe that the shipment should be OK to go ahead. However, insist that the batch is quarantined and nothing gets shipped otherwise your customers may end up with defective or unsatisfactory products. (04:10)
2. Examine your quality standard, the situation found by the inspector, and what the cause of the gap between them is.
Get photos, videos, real samples, etc, from the inspector. Understand what went wrong. If you determine that the products are acceptable after all, the issue may be with your quality standard because the inspector clearly doesn’t have a clear understanding of what is and isn’t acceptable. For example, authorizing production based only on a golden sample is not a clear standard as it only shows what an acceptable product should be like and does not provide information about what defects are, variations allowed, and how to classify different imperfections.
Ideally, inspectors need to know the quality standard, show defects, indicate their sizes, location on the product, and document them in different photos (close, far, next to a ruler, etc).
What issues are more common where and in what number, for example, isolated mainly to the white version of a product, not the gray or black.
Maybe your manufacturer choice was inappropriate for your expected quality? If they usually work on lower-quality products, but you’re asking them to make something far higher, that’s a recipe for trouble, especially if you didn’t clearly document a detailed quality standard. In this case, your supplier sourcing & qualification process was at fault. There’s also more likelihood of disputes with them if they don’t have a qualified quality manager on board.
Don’t threaten the manufacturer. Keep things calm and professional. Getting angry and trying to motivate the manufacturer through fear isn’t very effective.
Sometimes manufacturers will even try to discredit inspectors, perhaps by claiming that they demanded bribes to pass the products, in order to try to dodge the problem or make the assumption that they want a bribe because they don’t understand why they are failing the products.
It may also be as simple as that the quality standard wasn’t translated into the manufacturer’s language, so they didn’t follow it. (05:57)
3. Make the right people at the factory aware of the inspection report in a neutral manner to get their cooperation.
Don’t assume that the factory management will even see the report. They may not be present. Take the report and explain that it’s worrying and request that the supplier’s management analyze it and come back with an explanation. In the meantime, request to quarantine the products and wait until the issue has been sorted out. This allows you to work with the factory to find the cause of the problem without anyone feeling attacked. After all, it may be your fault that the issue occurred (as we covered earlier). Another example would be where you sourced material from a sub-supplier and directed them to use it and it turned out to be unacceptable. (17:56)
4. Get the manufacturer to fix an issue.
If an issue with the products is the manufacturer’s fault, they need to be quarantined and re-checked. You may need a second opinion from a different inspector if the manufacturer disagrees and claims that the original data is wrong. Categorize the batch into good, bad, and unsure. Analyze the products in the ‘unsure’ silo piece-by-piece. Document the findings carefully and put pressure on the factory, especially if their own checks are still way out of alignment with the inspector’s findings.
If you now agree on the batch, you may request the manufacturer to ship only the good pieces to you now, and deal with the bad ones. It may be possible to rework or repair them and get them up to standard, or at least to be sellable at a lower price through outlets, for example. It may be possible to negotiate to purchase these pieces at a lower price. If the bad pieces can’t be reworked or repaired, you may need to negotiate with the manufacturer to reproduce the number of pieces required to fulfill the order. (20:43)
5. Order another inspection before shipment to remove doubt.
Finally, if the manufacturer has reworked or reproduced the products that had issues and you still feel concerned, you may order a final inspection for your peace of mind. This will usually be charged to the manufacturer. (25:12)
How to prevent the same problem/s from occurring again in future?
So far we’ve covered how to fix a problem/s found by a quality inspection. But how to stop this problem from reoccurring in the next production run?
A corrective action plan needs to be implemented. A team must work through it, perhaps in the form of an 8D to find root causes. The root cause is never at the level of people, rather you would ask why the operators, for example, made mistakes that led to poor quality products. Maybe they weren’t trained properly and made a mistake? Was their training adequate, work instructions clear, and management supervision in place?
Did you eliminate issues during the product design and development process so the manufacturer wasn’t given a design that was always going to have issues? A dFMEA would be a good activity to do to find and remove product design risks.
Failed product quality inspections are linked to the NPI process. If something was skipped or missed, the risk of quality issues later on in production increases. (26:14)
This process you can follow if you have a failed inspection can help you avoid an endless dispute with the manufacturer.
Remember, don’t be held to ransom by a manufacturer. If you tell them how urgent it is for you to get the products soon they may play the waiting game until you feel forced to accept them, and this indicates your ‘real quality standard.’ So stand firm, clarify your expectations, and get a reinspection done. (32:54)
Do you have any questions about product inspections or what to do if you get poor-quality products from your suppliers? Leave a comment, please, and contact me if you have any questions.
P.S. Related content to this topic…
- Sofeast offers an incredibly wide range of product inspections throughout the manufacturing cycle for you to take advantage of across East, SE, and South Asia.
- Use a Corrective Action Plan after a Failed Inspection
- How To Fill Out an 8D Report and Fix a Problem in a Factory
- Fixing Product Quality Issues: MFG vs. Product Design Causes