Getting A Supplier to use SPC (Statistical Process Control)

H

Hillsrem

#1
We have a Chinese supplier that does not use statistical tools in their manufacturing process. If the number of defects in a production run is more than they expect, they will investigate and make some adjustments, all after the fact.

For better or worse, we are sole sourced with this supplier. We are basically stuck with them, (actually, dependant on them), so our influence on how they operate is limited.

I want to encourage them to start using DOE, control charts, and other tools to find and control important variables. To get them started, my thinking is to select a few parts that we have had quality issues with, work with one of our engineers to identify the important characteristics of those parts and get the supplier to use Pre-Control on those characteristics.

I like the idea of using pre-control because it can be implemented fairly quickly and easily as a first step into process control. Then, depending on how successful pre-control goes, work other tools into the process.

It feels a bit like the blind leading the blind, as I have not been the quality manager here for very long and am in the process of learning the quality tools that many take for granted, so I am interested in others thoughts about this approach.

Thanks,
 
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#2
What kind of parts? What kind of processes? What kind of rejections? Handy info for us to help you....
 
H

Hillsrem

#3
There are several different types of parts involved. All related to household type electrical switches, cords, plug strips.

There are small injection molded parts for housings, buttons, switches, levers, and covers. Most are made of nylon. Defects primarily include out of spec dimensions, and brittle parts. (I am pleased to add that we are making progress in the injection molding area. We got them to bring in the resin supplier’s technical rep to review their injection molding operation and some very good recommendations came out of that exercise. For example, the importance of shot size relative to machine injection capacity, resin drying time, using desiccating dryers.)

There are small stamped metal parts, primarily terminals of various shapes. We have not had many defects on these parts.

There are also some metal parts that are welded together. Defects include parts being welded out of position, poor welds, and weld spatter.

There are plastic parts that are ultrasonically welded together. Defects include poor welds and excess flash.
 
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R

RandT

#4
Do they seem responsive to your issues or not? When a problem is identified, how good are they at corrective actions? What happens to all the suspect material at your facility in the meantime?

If their corrective actions include containment and sorting activities, you could suggest that the use of SPC could prevent that from happening and help avoid all that extra work. To be effective, the SPC needs to be seen as something that helps them rather than something they do just because you demand it. Otherwise, they will just go through the motions.
 
J

Joe Ren

#5
Do they seem responsive to your issues or not? When a problem is identified, how good are they at corrective actions? What happens to all the suspect material at your facility in the meantime?

If their corrective actions include containment and sorting activities, you could suggest that the use of SPC could prevent that from happening and help avoid all that extra work. To be effective, the SPC needs to be seen as something that helps them rather than something they do just because you demand it. Otherwise, they will just go through the motions.
I agree with Rand.:agree:

Moreover, for continiously poor quality, first of all, we should review supplier's quality control system whether or not quality system is meet with requirement and suitable, and their OQC's capability is enough for quality control, what about their IPQC, how about their engineering technical ability and quality engineering ablility. If all of these are accept, we can consider to prevent high failure rate in production process and help supplier to set up SPC control process.

I am in China I know Chinese company quality culture. It is very necessary that you talk with their quality management person, and ask them to strictly implement SPC process, and let them know right implement is crically important for their quality control and improve process quality. Otherwise, you read SPC data that they provide always is fine and under control, but your parts quality is still poor. Anyway, Don't worry about, most of Chinese companies are good at company culture.
 
A

alekgrabinski

#6
I think Hillsrem needs to break down the problem into smaller, more manageable steps. Going from next-to-nothing to SPC is a big jump. I would start with assessing the quality culture within the supplier. Do they have a quality person in the company? Do they have an executive champion? What types of quality tools do they already use? (5S, Kaizen, internal audits, data review, CLCA, etc.) How do they know what constitutes a defect level "more than they expect"? If they don't have a culture that actively pulls for quality, it's going to be a wasted effort.

I wish I could share Joe Ren's optimism, but my experience with domestic Chinese manufacturers isn't nearly as good. With some suppliers, I've been able to track defect levels as a function of when we (the customer) were in the factory -- we're there on the line, good results; we go home, quality does too. The conversation for quality can frequently be overwhelmed by the conversation for output, and this is particularly true with suppliers unaccustomed to Western quality standards.

Hillsrem, here's my opinion: Forget the SPC, and go upstream, like you're planning. Run DOE's. Develop control plans. Do process maps and FMEA's and FTA's. Bring in the resin supplier and the machine center manufacturer and the metrology maker for training and data sharing. Create an environment where it's exciting and interesting for your supplier to discover how their process works. Once you've done that, you'll have internal quality champions who will carry the Q flag. And you'll have a process that, were it to be characterized using SPC, would be demonstrated to be in control, all the time.
 
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