Four Steps to Prevent Production Defects

January 2, 2022

Every professional working in a supply chain understands that defects matter, but few of us understand how deeply defects can impact our business. In this post, we’ll look at the ramification of production defects, the cause of production defects, and key methods of defect prevention.

Why do defects matter so much?

Production defects damage your business in three basic ways:

Lower productivity

For most companies, the immediate reaction to defects is to throw time and resources at the problem in hopes of tracing the cause upstream to its source. The toll on productivity worsens when you have to repair or re-produce products altogether, which decreases both your profitability and your ability to meet delivery dates.

Reputational harm

The worst-case scenario is having the defect reach the buyer, which results in a complaint and a chargeback. The loss of reputation and hard-earned trust with the buyer is worse than the lost profit, because it can impact future sales and steer customers away from your brand. A single defect can lead to many lost future sales.

Financial losses

The losses don’t stop when you identify and fix or replace the faulty product. Defects lead to the extra expense of expedited shipping, and lower overall returns on your quality management investment.

The four primary reasons for defects

It’s difficult for vendors and factories using conventional supply chain management tools to stay ahead of defects in any meaningful way because of four fundamental limitations to their legacy systems that allow defects to continue occurring.

1. Manual data entry

If quality operations are mostly performed manually using physical checklists, it opens room for skipped steps and handwriting legibility issues. Your supply chain could be using spreadsheets like Excel or other recording methods that are unconnected and require a human intermediary, which is another opportunity for human error to be introduced.

2. Disconnected data

Excel and other spreadsheets are not natively integrated with supply chain management software and must be formatted and centralized to be useable. Communication happens via emails, phone calls, and stakeholders each working on their own versions of shared documents, resulting in missed communication and information silos.

3. The need for mission-critical reports

Traditional supply chain management leans heavily on the ‘big’ report — a high-stakes document created to guide decision-making at the top level. It takes significant effort to create these reports, and without real-time data, it’s going to be based on outdated or inaccurate information. By contrast, modern supply chain management technologies can produce insights based on artificial intelligence (AI) analytics at a moment’s notice.

4. No standard operating procedures

Without the right tools to establish standard operating procedures, it’s easy for vendors and factories to fall out of alignment with brand and retailer expectations, creating a messy production process and roadblocks to compliance.

Four steps to production defect prevention

Detecting defects is important, but the deeper value lies in the ability to prevent defects before they happen. Here are four practical steps to prevent production defects:

1. Rank your suppliers

Audit your suppliers and rank them in terms of quality risk — those who are more trustworthy should receive more orders.

Conventionally, vendors ranked suppliers manually, which can lead to guesswork and unnecessary risk that increases with your number of suppliers and volume of orders. Inspectorio’s Performance Ranking feature uses A.I. analysis to rank your supply chain partners according to their risk score, replacing subjectivity with data-driven, real-time stats.

2. Set standard workflows

Ask yourself the following questions about your production network, can you:

  • ensure that each product’s manufacturing process is traceable?
  • guarantee that the inspection process is compliant with the required standards?
  • measure the efficiency of the production process?

Answering these questions depends on being able to configure and standardize workflows. To prevent defects in your products, you need to make sure you are conducting inspections and tests both during and after production. Inspectorio allows you to set your own customizable workflows to save your inspectors time.

3. Accelerate defect resolution

Product defects can inflict long-lasting damage to your brand, which is why the ability to detect them early is so critical to delivering lasting improvements across your quality process.

Inspectorio can quickly identify product defects and set interventions in motion, with features like Defect Comparison, which analyzes the relative occurrence of defects across products, inspection types, factories, regions, and more.

4. Invest in prediction and prevention

Do you know the 1-10-100 Rule? If preventing a quality defect costs $1, correcting it will cost $10, and letting it reach the customer will cost $100. In other words, the best place to deal with defects is before they occur — by a huge factor.

By analyzing risk through robust AI and machine learning, software like Inspectorio Sight gives you real-time, 24/7, autonomous quality risk monitoring so you can prevent defects from materializing on your production line.

It’s time to centralize data and communication

There is no better vehicle for change than a culture of continuous improvement and accountability. By creating a centralized place for efficient communication and real-time data and report sharing, Inspectorio Sight lets you deliver transparency to your buyers while reducing delays.

The future of quality excellence is in network platforms, and none has proven more disruptive and innovative than Inspectorio Sight. To learn how our quality management platform can give your business the ability to protect against defects, contact us.

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