Bad Parts cause Customer line stop


Involved In Discussions
Did someone have a situation caused by bad parts from your process that caused customer line stop? Can you share how this experience was and if something was made to avoid it.
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Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
I am currently a Supplier Quality Engineer for medical devices and see (too) many "line down" situations caused by parts issues, some of which were my suppliers.

The worst case involved flaws in painted molded PVC enclosure parts: namely the front cover, which is like automotive in that customers perceive quality in part on appearance of the portion of the unit they see every time they perform a procedure with it. I spent 2 weeks in the supplier's Minnesota plant in mid-December, part of which was at the (outsourced process) paint shop that applied the finish.

In the end, the corrective action was to fire that subcontractor and go back to their previous one, which added lead time due to its distance but so it is.


Haste Makes Waste
Because you have posted in the IATF 16949 section, I assume you are shutting down a Tier 1 auto manufacturer.

This was very expensive, hurt my former company's reputation and was very stressful. I recommend doing everything you can to avoid the situation.

We had to pay the expense of hand delivering good parts across Michigan to the Detroit plant. There was also the cost of paying for rework in the yards at the plant. Fortunately, Ford found the issue before they put vehicles on trains which would have been a huge cost.

We also had to warn all other assembly and engine plants to 100% verify the condition did not exist on similar parts. This was charged to us also.

It cost around $325,000. It could have been much more expensive. We were able to get a little back from our sub-supplier but it was months of negotiations and hassle.

Fortunately, it was a simple design issue that should have been noticed and could be permanently fixed. Unfortunately, we had to pay for extensive error proofing for this and across all similar parts.

A proper drawing/design review with barb to tube fit dimension analysis would have caught this. It should have been noticed and the tube drawing corrected all through the APQP and PPAP processes also.

Ron Rompen

Trusted Information Resource
I have (unfortunately) been in the position of shutting down an OEM plant. We were a Tier II supplier to a major Tier I at the time. This was due (primarily) to our Tier I customers design defect. However when we reviewed our CA with the OEM, part of the blame was assigned to us, for failing to note the design defect at our manufacturing feasibility review. It seemed a bit of a stretch at the time, but looking back now I find that I am at least somewhat in agreement. It was a learning experience for us, and one that (hopefully) I won't repeat again in the future.

Jim Wynne

I have (unfortunately) been in the position of shutting down an OEM plant. We were a Tier II supplier to a major Tier I at the time. This was due (primarily) to our Tier I customers design defect.
There are times when dealing with automotive OEMs that you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. Back in the nineties, when working for a tier-1 to GM doing injection molding of interior trim parts, , we were notified that a part we made was failing in the field. It was a rear-shelf speaker grill, and there was a trainload of cars in Mexico wherein the grills were warping from sun exposure. The parts had passed all of the prescribed testing, which we did in-house. It turned out that the specified material wasn't matched with the proper testing requirements, which was clearly a GM mistake. In times past, our engineering people had made various suggestions about materials for different projects to their GM counterparts, and were uniformly told to mind their own business and let GM worry about the materials. At some point, our people just stopped making suggestions.

Our building was invaded by GM people for about three days, and it seemed that the purpose was to find some way to blame the problem on us. We retested the parts in their presence and demonstrated that the specified material was in use. Although they finally had to accept defeat, one of their people at one point told us that we should have known it was the wrong material and warned them, because we were the "experts." They were shown further evidence that such helpful hints had been rebuffed in the past, and finally went back to Detroit with their tails between their legs.


A Sea of Statistics
Super Moderator
#8 has been my experience that the really good suppliers are the ones that among other things, are proactive, perform due diligence...and with the right measure of diplomacy inform the customer of the "errors in thinking, material selection, testing, scheduling or design". At times it certainly seemed as though we were being rough on suppliers....However, better to be rough and a bit over-bearing early on than to drag a supplier through the "Product Related Issue", i.e. one that affects the assembly point, resulting in a yard hold. At this point the suppliers risk increases astronomically, as does the scrutiny and risks...out come the microscopes.


Quite Involved in Discussions
Jim, good to see you were able to push back and prove GM was to the problem.

Several time now at two different aerospace mfgs, we have referred to certain people as the [large aerospace company] proofreading department. In one case, when they used a high volume off the shelf connector they did not follow the connector's recommended hole pattern, and the case did not fit the connector, delaying the project by several weeks while we had new metal case parts made to the correct hole pattern for the connector.


Involved In Discussions
We get warned about this from time to time (we're tier 2, bulk material supplier). Our T&C's state we don't pay for consequential damages. However, we will bend over backwards, hiring sorting companies and/or expedited shipping, issuing credits, etc.

It is my opinion (30 years) that the tier 1's have gotten out of hand, with regards to their requirements for incoming quality (particularly for us commodity suppliers). Years ago, we were given defect PPM levels as a requirement (we supply millions of pounds monthly). Nowadays, most of our customers have moved to 0-defect policies. It seems they have reduced their in-line inspection over time (presumably to save money), and are flabbergasted when their customer finds a defect. We supply a part that is inspected via eddy current analysis. The equipment is set up according to ASTM standards. They receive a part with an issue that ASTM doesn't consider as a "defect", but through their processing, make the issue worse, fail to inspect for it, and send it to their customer, but send us a complaint. They want to know what we're going to do so they don't receive any of the issues going forward! We're not selling parts, we're selling a commodity product. If it were green beans we were supplying, our customers are rejecting truck loads every time they found one bad bean. Sorry, rant over.
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