When you work with subcontractors to fabricate parts or components, you must be sure that their quality standards are consistent both with your standards and with any regulatory requirements for the finished product. Ensuring supplier quality assurance is an essential step in your own QA process, but how can you confirm that all your subcontractors meet your specifications?
Three Steps to Ensure Supplier Quality AssuranceYou can't constantly look over every supplier's shoulder, but if you follow three simple steps, you can establish and verify quality standards that will help ensure that you get what you want from your subcontractors:
- Clear expectations - Communicate your expectations both in your engineering drawings and in discussions with your suppliers. They can't produce quality results if they don't know what you expect. After you have supplied engineering drawings, confirm that your supplier is satisfied with them and does not need any clarification.
- Precise engineering drawings - Don't leave any room for interpretation in your engineering drawings. The more precise details you can provide, the more likely you are to get the results you desire. Remember that a good engineering drawing takes into account the design intent, the manufacturing process, and the inspection/verification process.
- Certifications - When possible, look for suppliers that have ISO 9001 certification. When this is not possible - for example, in the case of small specialty suppliers that don't have the resources to achieve certification - consider a survey, audit, or other self-certification process.
Creating a supplier quality assurance protocol in advance is always more cost-effective than solving the inevitable problems that will arise if you don't follow these steps.
Q-PLUS Labs can help ensure supplier quality assurance at many steps in the process. We work with many small manufacturers to satisfy their customers' QA requirements. We can also provide third-party independent quality assurance and quality control inspections including first article inspection, in-process inspection, and process control. If you need assistance with any quality assurance issues, contact us today for a consultation.