Monday, October 8, 2007


The competitive quality of a company’s products often depends on

a. The quality of the raw materials and parts that it purchases from external suppliers
b. The price that it pays for these supplies
c. The timeliness of their delivery to its production lines.

It is therefore critical that a company selects its external suppliers carefully. It should

a. Get as much information as it can about potential suppliers from independent sources
b. Require candidate companies to present clear, detailed documentation of what they offer
c. Request, if appropriate, a prototype made to their specifications.

To get a really good picture of a candidate company’s capabilities, carry out an in-depth investigation, examining the following points:

a. The candidate company’s production resources,
b. Its system of inspection and control,
c. Its way of handling abnormalities
d. Its ability to carry out engineering changes in response to changes in specifications and new technology.

Drawing up a contract with a supplier company and agreeing terms should also be approached with care. The buyer company should

a. Take a systematic approach to setting a purchase price
b. Think carefully about all the details to be included in the contract.

When a company starts to do business with an external supplier, it must inspect incoming supplies. It will need to have standards for this inspection. These standards should

a. Be established in consultation with the supplier
b. Include an evaluation form in which all the relevant details can be entered at the time of delivery.

It is always in the buyer company’s interests to encourage and support its suppliers in improving their levels of quality. Where the buyer company is more advanced in quality control than the supplier, the buyer should

a. Get the supplier company to put someone in charge of quality and liaise with this person.
b. Encourage the supplier to use QC circles.
c. Exchange information with the supplier.
d. Encourage the supplier to take on greater responsibility for improving their own quality.

The buyer should also monitor the efforts of the supplier to improve and maintain quality. This can include:

a. Carrying out an evaluation of the supplier, and then setting up a system to correct weak points.
b. Keeping a record of whatever technical instructions have been given to the supplier.
c. Using work standards and a QC process chart to check that the supplier is carrying out each process correctly and maintaining the production flow properly.Regularly evaluating the records of goods delivered.

Finally, look on the relationship with an external supplier as one that will last. Develop a long-term strategy to:

a. Maintain and improve quality
b. Ensure the correct production volume is achieved
c. Shorten deadlines
d. Utilize the specific technology of the supplier
e. Reduce production costs.

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