Unrealistic Goals


Ken B.

I am a Quailty manager for a corrugated box plant. I am in a situation that I am not sure how to handle. One of our accounts (automotive ind.) has issued a Corrective action to me for 5 bad boxes. These bad pieces were out of an order of 25,000. In our industry this is not unusual. I bit the bullet and did the Corrective action on the 5 bad boxes. The problem is 2 days later I received another Corrective Action, This time for one bad piece. I called their Quality Controll Manager and he insisted 100% conforming product. This is an unobtainable goal for me to set. I tried to convince him that these numbers are typicall for our industry. I invited him to take a plant tour hoping he would get a better grasp on the speed at witch these parts run. He declined. Has anyone out there encountered this type of problem? Any ideas on what I can do? Thanks you guys are a tremendous help.


What are the boxes used for? What type of construction? What is the defect? Is it possible the customer is damaging them and blaming you?

I used to be a SQE for Lionel Trains. I visited many corrugated plants. Many of our customers collected our trains as opposed to actually running them and would never open the box. They were more picky about the box than what was inside. As the customer I ran into a similar problem that we would get the occasional box that was bad. If it was just a few per run we had a scrap allowance and did not worry about it. Sometimes we paid $3-$5 for a small box (litho-lam), so cost could add up quickly. I would debit them for multiple runs when the cost justified it. The supplier trusted my judgement and just gave us credit without the return. If it was a big problem, such as the time they coated the glue tab and every one came unglued, we would reject.

Early on we had people rejecting boxes left and right for minor visual flaws. I also had to defeat the "it is always the suppliers fault - send it back" mentality for things we damaged. We finally put a specification together about what was acceptable and what was not. For example, "hickeys" were allowable on the back, but nowhere near the company logo.

You might also think about going back to the buyer and telling tham that if they want 100% guaranteed good boxes they are going to have to pay for extra inspection, sorting, better design, etc.

Could you over ship a few per shipment? Then they have some scrap tolerance and don't have to bother with paperwork every time one is bad.


Mike S.

Happy to be Alive
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Ken B.,

I've been in your shoes more than once, and it ain't fun.

Is this a new account, or one you've had for awhile? If it is an established account, sounds like someone new is in the QA area. What did their PO say as far as any special QA requirements -- was there any mention of 100% quality required? Do they claim to get this from other suppliers?

If this is truly typical in your industry, maybe your boss or someone at the top who has great "people skills" needs to have a nice talk with the top people at the customer. I'd try to set up a conference call with their QA guy, their purchasing guy, etc. and you, your sales guy, and other key people at your company and get it hashed out -- then follow-up the solution with a memo of understanding. Don't let it drag out, talk it out.

Let us know what happens in the end.

M Greenaway

I can understand the non-acceptance of defective boxes, and you are duty bound to re-supply defect free boxes, but as for taking corrective action to ensure he never gets another bad box is perhaps a bit over the top.

I endorse the idea of over supplying by a quantity to account for your known process capability.

Jonathon Haddow

hi Ken
These types of requirements are typical of the automotive industry, My previous company was expected to write and implement corrective actions for 2 faults in 200 000 items.

Chris May


Do you use SPC at all within your process(es) ??

You could do a process capability study and ascertain what is achievable and then using facts and numbers, agree with the customer that, meanwhile back in the real world, this is as good as it gets......


Chris May


More Bad News

Well Ken I will bring you some more bad news. If you supply an OEM in the Automotive Industry, ZERO defects is the correct answer. There is no such thing as "normal" defects. The auto industry requires you to follow the APQP and PPAP manuals as well as the QS9000 soon to be ISO/TS-16949, this all sucks I know I live it everyday. What you will need to do is do a FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis) as well as a Control Plan of the process to see where your failures are. In the Auto industry everything is a system or process problem. You may be well advised to separate your auto from your non-auto operations because of all of the stuff the OEM's look for. I don't know who your auto customers are but they all have packaging standards that are available to you as a supplier. Good Luck
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