What to do when Customer Specific Requirements (CSR's) are Inaccurate

QMMike

Involved In Discussions
#1
First some backround information -
We are a customer plastic/rubber extruder and this customer of mine is our largest customer. They have always had the same problems with their drawings and PO's, in that they are either incorrect (nominal dimensions and/or tolerances) or they do not provide enough information. I pose questions and get sufficient enough answers that enable us to run their parts with some sense of being confident that what we will be supplying is what they actually want, while retaining the emails as a CYA on my part.

Now, just the documention aspect of the problem;
The drawings - previously they would give CAD data, we cut tools, extrude samples (with these types of extrusions, more times than not, the drawings would require revising to reflect actual parts). They would approve them and give us a "tagged std" while retaining one for themselves. Production would begin - problem - drawing not usually updated.

The PO's - PO would call-out incorrect revision drawings, not supply enough information, or have information just plain wrong. PO's would be placed, we would have no clue as to what the specifics of the part would be mainly just the cross section. I would contact the engineer, he wouldn't know what the new part is, research it and get back to me.

Now they've added a document similar to a control plan... this document has additional requirements on them (that dont exist on the PO or drawing). Also, they contain many inaccuracies relating to the parts. They've told us that this document is an internal document for them that tells their people what to look for at FAI, Rec, Final Audit, or Source Inspections and that it is being distributed to their suppliers so that we know what they are looking at but we do not have to use it as a basis for our inspections. (This is new for them so they are trying to get caught up with all their parts and are sending these as .zip files - I received a package of 15 of them - all w/ issues).

SOME of the process problems;
FAI parts would be submitted using their documents with notations made stating things such as "+/- .001 on a wall thickness is unattainable" (remember this is plastic extruded - our nominal wall thicknesses typically are .030 on the bulk of the parts to .050/.060 on others). Or I would bring to their attention that certain dimensions are called out incorrectly, they would agree but nothing is done. - These samples would be approved and they would want production ASAP... none of our concerns would be addressed. Due to the nature of their business, their customers place orders and require material ASAP...

I KNOW with open issues we should not run any production - but I also know if I want to keep my job, my customer, and not run our company into the ground... we need to run production.


They have since hired multiple people for their quality department (they are a $xxx,xxx,xxx.xx company). I know they are trying to make improvements to their operations but I am unsure if they are aware of the magnatidue of their problems. I began carbon copying all the concerned department heads at my customer just to make sure everyone there is aware of these issues. Luckily for me I have a good relationship with them. Their head of Engineering and Purchasing have even made the comment at our last big meeting with them that other than their Lead Engineer, I am the only other person that knows what is going on with their drawings/product. ~ at which point I asked who I should give my SS# to so I could collect compensation.

Sorry if it seems like I am just ranting/raving but just curious if anyone else has had experience with something like this... Luckily this is not an automotive customer of ours and we are registerd to TS16949. Otherwise, I am not certian how we would fare in an audit.

Thanks for letting me vent :)
 
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Dave Dunn

#2
Re: Long read - What to do when customer specific requirements are inaccurate...

For the drawings and documentation, I'd suggest marking up copies with the tolerances you require and ask them to sign/date their approval and return them to you as a defacto drawing change. If they won't go through the work of updating their release drawing, that is the next option to show that you are complying with the requirements.

I understand all to well the pressure to manufacture, but running with all these concerns unaddressed just leaves the door wide open to any problem coming back to you. Customer has an issue, your part is out of spec per the drawing, so it is now your problem.
 

RoxaneB

Change Agent and Data Storyteller
Super Moderator
#3
Re: Long read - What to do when customer specific requirements are inaccurate...

Out of curiousity, is the customer billed for the extra resource drain on your side?
 

CarolX

Trusted Information Resource
#4
Re: Long read - What to do when customer specific requirements are inaccurate...

QMMike,

Sometimes it helps to just vent - doesn't it!!
 

QMMike

Involved In Discussions
#5
Re: Long read - What to do when customer specific requirements are inaccurate...

Out of curiousity, is the customer billed for the extra resource drain on your side?
No, when I showed everyone all the work I was doing to try and figure out what they actually want and I made the comment about my S.S#... later on during that meeting one of their purchasing guys made the "joke" of ~ "what is your S.S. # again??"
 

RCW

Quite Involved in Discussions
#6
Incorrect drawings / documentation has long been a thorn in my company's side. I'd be interested in how other companies out there address dealing with this issue.

What we do is email the customer, usually through the customer's procurement agent, and provide them with the descrepancy (missing / incorrect / obsolete part numbers, missing / incorrect dimensions, etc.) and sometimes provide a suggestion. Email response are sometimes returned quickly. Other times it takes some prodding to get an answer. On a rare occasion, we will get the customer's document which records what the change will be "in a future drawing revision".

The problem is now we have a folder on the shop floor with the incorrect drawing and one, two, or more emails. I have seen the drawings marked up in the problem area with a "see email from date". This hasn't been defined in any of our SOPs (maybe it should if this is a viable solution?). However, other than drawing mark ups, there is no tracking method for how many emails go with the documentation.

It is ironic that one of the worst customers for having incorrect drawings has performed supplier audits here and recommends not using emails to track these discrepancies. Too much opportunity to lose information. They said to have their company send us modifications to the drawing. DUH!! Why are you telling me this?! Tell this to your own company!!

Does this fall into generating a deviation form? (I'm cautiously using the word "deviation" here after reviewing several of the threads here re: deviation.)

Any suggestions or experience in dealing with such issues to pass on??
 

Jim Wynne

Leader
Admin
#7
Incorrect drawings / documentation has long been a thorn in my company's side. I'd be interested in how other companies out there address dealing with this issue.
This is part of contract review, and these things should be sorted out well before production begins. It requires discipline, and you have to be able to tell the customer that nothing will happen until discrepancies are settled and both sides understand the requirements. Requirements must be controlled, and copies of email messages are antithetical to the concept. At the very least you should have an "officially" marked-up drawing, and your own process documentation should allow for such. Incomplete or ambiguous purchase orders should never be accepted.
 

RCW

Quite Involved in Discussions
#8
Jim,
I respect your comments and agree with them. HOWEVER, as you can see in my comments below, I don't work in a finely-tuned organization, and things don't always work out in practice as they do on paper.

This is part of contract review, and these things should be sorted out well before production begins.
The problem with this is the people reviewing contracts do not have the actual components in front of them. Parts fit on the drawing, yet when an assembler goes to put them together, the smaller backshell doesn't fit on the larger connector. Contract review would have to sift through every drawing on the job, and dig through every specification to find the needle in the haystack. Add in the lack of techinical knowledge of the reviewers and you are left a mess.

It requires discipline, and you have to be able to tell the customer that nothing will happen until discrepancies are settled and both sides understand the requirements.

Incomplete or ambiguous purchase orders should never be accepted.
:applause: I'm in full agreement on this one. I have even brought up similar instances where I told management to stand up to the customer and "Just say No". I've been greeted with a spineless response of "Well, they are the customer." (I will continue pushing on this one.)

Requirements must be controlled, and copies of email messages are antithetical to the concept.
Ironic that we are speding time and effort to obtain an official, legal purchase order and obtaining customer drawings, specifications, and other documents, yet more than content to use email to justify any variance or correction to documentation.


At the very least you should have an "officially" marked-up drawing, and your own process documentation should allow for such.
This looks like the way I am heading but always open to additional suggestions.
 
Last edited:

bobdoering

Stop X-bar/R Madness!!
Trusted Information Resource
#9
I have even brought up similar instances where I told management to stand up to the customer and "Just say No". I've been greeted with a spineless response of "Well, they are the customer." (I will continue pushing on this one.)
There is a price to pay for that spinelessness - as in rejections, sorting, expedited shipments, customer dissatisfaction, etc. - down the road. And you won't have a leg to stand on - even in court. But, perhaps management is willing to accept that risk. Just don't cry to the quality guy then....
 

Caster

An Early Cover
Trusted Information Resource
#10
.... I have seen the drawings marked up in the problem area with a "see email from date".
WOW - that is about the worst thing (from an engineering viewpoint) I have ever heard.

Is is the end of engineering as we know it?

Have we been so beaten down by Global pricing that we can't or won't do the basic things anymore?

About the only advice I can offer on these customers is the last piece of paper on top of the pile wins. An order confirmation (since you can't tell us what you need, here's what we are making unless you tell us otherwise) can be your friend if things go wrong.

We once had a customer ask us for a copy of their print since we had a more current version than they did. But your customer beats that.
 
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