Quality Management in Outsourced Manufacturing

Visibility and product quality are key to maintaining a competitive edge in the market. So how can a company successfully achieve those objectives while also outsourcing its manufacturing?


Such a system enables manufacturer's quality engineers to:

  • Define inspection points in the supplier's manufacturing line and define quality attributes to be collected at those inspection points, so that the supplier can collect data using the Web-based quality system at those inspection points. The system then automatically calculates process capability and makes it available to manufacturer's quality managers all within hours. As a result, a manufacturer's quality managers have real-time visibility into process capability issues at their supplier.

  • Trend all collected data, identify issues and create corrective actions to be implemented at supplier's plants. A Web-based system ensures that a supplier has instant visibility into corrective actions created by the manufacturer. The supplier's engineers work on the corrective actions to identify root cause and resolution. A Web-based system also enables the manufacturer's quality managers to track the progress of corrective actions by the supplier's quality engineers and ensure that they have been successfully closed.

  • Audit the supplier's processes on a frequent basis and easily correlate the detailed audit data and results against previously identified corrective actions to ensure the corrective actions were successfully implemented.

Using these capabilities, the manufacturer's quality managers not only can prevent a poor quality shipment from entering the supply chain in a timely manner, but they can also identify quality issues, create appropriate corrective actions for the supplier and systematically prevent such problems from occurring again.

In the example above, the golf club manufacturer's quality engineers ended up implementing just such a quality system with data entry capability at its outsourcing partner's plants. Since then, the manufacturing process capability of the outsourcing partner has increased, and quality issues can now be identified in real-time and proactively addressed. A traditional PC-based quality management solution could not have met these requirements, and it could have increased the manufacturer's risk of high reject costs and disruption of supply from its outsourced suppliers.

About the Author: Anil Gupta is the vice president of Marketing at MetricStream, a provider of enterprise compliance and quality software. Gupta also serves as a research advisor on IT Performance Management to Ventana Research, an industry analyst firm.

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