Supplier Quality


Bajaria, Dr. H.J.   (1990, ASQC)   Multiface, Inc., Garden City, MI

Annual Quality Congress, San Francisco, CA    Vol. 44    No. 0
QICID: 9471    May 1990    pp. 324-329
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Article Abstract

During the quality improvement movement of the 1980s, the idea of a reduced supplier base emerged as a means to keep only the fittest in business. The intention was to weed out the weak. Implementation of this idea, however, has not accomplished what was intended. Like many other improvement ideas that lack focus, this supplier-quality strategy failed in determining the fittest.

OEMs created extensive, costly guidelines for evaluating suppliers, keeping the suppliers busy attending seminars to understand the new rules of the game. In general, suppliers fell into the trap of merely rearranging their paperwork to show compliance to these rules. The presentation of plaques to suppliers who complied created a false front because, all the while, real improvement opportunities went begging. Too many suppliers unfortunately concluded that compliance was a public relations effort, rather than viewing it as an opportunity to make fundamental changes in how they conduct business with the OEMs.

The present supplier-quality strategy has bred four negatives: (1) incompetency in the supplier evaluation process, {2) costly window dressing by suppliers, {3} nonstrategic supplier activity, and (4) a false sense of confidence in suppliers. The failure of this strategy is evident by the growing number of foreign suppliers establishing themselves in the U.S.

The time is overdue to examine the basic assumptions underlying the present supplier-quality strategy and, in turn, propose ideas to redirect that strategy for more positive, profitable results. This paper suggests a change based on the true performance of the suppliers, instead of the subjective supplier evaluation currently used. A win-win strategy between suppliers and OEMs is the goal, eliminating all the negatives of the present system. With a redirected strategy, suppliers can be positively motivated as well as sufficiently pressured to avoid any potential shortcuts in their quality.


Automobile industry

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