Continuous Improvement means you also need to ensure your raw materials meet your specifications, too.
There is a theoretical concept that states “You are only as good as the sum of your parts”! This became clear as day (pardon the pun) when athletic clothing retailer LuluLemon discovered a defect in their line of black yoga pants. The issue..they were too transparent when worn and especially in a number of standard yoga poses. The problem was traced back to one of its suppliers. LuluLemon stated “the product fell short of our very high standards”.
The repercussions of not closely monitoring their very high standards through the supply chain was the removal and scrapping of 17% or their pant product line worldwide and a 3% drop in their stock price!
The majority of products sold today are made from the combining of several raw materials, from many suppliers, and some products have multiple suppliers for the same material or part. This drives the need for the setting of clear requirements and the measuring of these raw materials in precise terms before they hit the manufacturing lines in your plant.
Traditional thinking of accepting summary information, like averages, for a lot of material have been discarded. Certificates of Analysis (CofA) need to contain detailed data about lots of material received that will insure variation will be minimized in the manufacturing process. Raw materials are the single greatest source of variation in a manufacturing process today.
Innovative companies have realized that raw material manufactureres that minimize variation and run at optimum target values are the key to reducing loses while providing the consistent quality that their customers demand.
The Quality Window products continue to play an integral role in the relationship between suppliers and manufacturers and in some cases it has evolved to four levels deep through the supply chain. We take great pride in having our current customers recommend our products to their suppliers and assisting them in improving their processes.
I think former US President Regan put it best in talking about the ongoing relationship with the former Soviet Union, and it is very fitting in the manufacturing community today, “Trust but Verify”