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Riddle me this: What does every vendor do before packaging and ship­ping a product, and what do organizations without a quality at source (QAS) program do when they receive the same product? In this pre­sentation the concepts, benefits, and implementation steps for creating QAS relationships with vendors and/or customers will be explored. The formation, structure, and use of corrective action teams (CATs) will also be explained.

The concept of QAS is simple: Create a relationship with a vendor that allows the vendor to manufacture and ship product to the customer that can immediately be used by the customer without fear of failure. What this means is that several steps have been taken to enable the final quality inspection to take place at the vendor's site with no need for inspection at the client site.

Who the customer is, and who the vendor is, become the questions that determine the type of education and communication required in effecting a QAS implementation. Externally, QAS is implemented be­tween two organizations and the client-to-vendor relationship is sim­ply defined. Internally, QAS is implemented within the organization, which means that most vendors are also customers. It is not the intent of this article to delve into the implementation or benefits of an inter­nal QAS project.

ORGANIZATION TO ORGANIZATION

The reasons for organizations to engage in QAS relationships are easy to understand. For the client, having vendors that can deliver on QAS initiatives enhances Just-in-Time implementation and reduces the cost of goods by cutting the cost of incoming inspection. Effectively, the material received under QAS is ready for consumption the moment it arrives. Other than a visual inspection to ensure that the shipping con­tainers are not damaged, the material can be sent straight to the point of consumption.

For the vendor, being able to deliver in a QAS relationship is a strate­gic selling point for all clients and prospective clients, and not only stand­alone QAS relationships may be targeted. The steps that a vendor goes through to prepare for QAS also positions them well for vendor-man­aged inventory relationships. A side effect of the decision to engage in QAS is that the decision forces the vendor to implement a QAS program within the vendor organization (or keep plenty of safety stock). By imple­menting QAS internally, the vendor will reduce the cost of production and be able to deliver a consistent quality of product.

For both organizations, the benefits of a QAS relationship are worth the effort required to put the relationship in place.

BUILDING BLOCKS

The relationship between the two organizations is built on several blocks. There is a contractual requirement that is put in place. Commu­nication paths must be built and maintained. Realistic expectations in terms of ramp-up time must be set and corrective action teams (CATs) must be established.

LEGALITIES

The contract between the organizations has several components be­yond the fine print that the lawyers feel a need to create. The agree­ment should clearly state the timing and procedure for introducing prod­ucts, or engineering changes, into the QAS arrangement. The vendor must have time to create the internal QAS procedures in order to have


 

a realistic chance of meeting the quality and delivery targets. At some point, one party may want to end the relationship or end the inclusion of a product in the contract. A mutually agreed-upon method, and tim­ing, of the ending of the relationship, or product inclusion, needs to be built into the contract.

To Be Continued


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