Crash Course

Learn supply chains inside and out

The Takata air bag debacle is the stuff of quality nightmares. Moral culpability, heinous injuries and fatalities, a public relations catastrophe and now a long and obstacle-ridden recall process have all culminated within the biggest product recall in U.S. history.

The tentacles of this story spread far and wide, but let me focus briefly on one of the most troubling areas from a quality perspective—that which relates to the supply chain by which these products ended up—and continue to be used—in vehicles on the assembly line today. What could automakers have done to glean more insights into potential issues? How did Takata avoid acknowledging the quality problems and concerns with so many customers? At a higher level, why are there so few suppliers for automakers to source from, to the point Takata air bags continue to be installed in recalled vehicles and the process to replace defective air bags could be drawn out for years based on short supply?

QP delves into some of the details of the events in "‘A Ticking Time Bomb,’". We continue to cover this unfolding story on a daily and weekly basis through our Quality News Today news service. To get news delivered to you each Friday, subscribe to the weekly enewsletter digest, QNT Weekly, at http://email.asq.org/subscribe/qntwk.

This supply chain story reminds us of the importance of a clear and deep understanding of the intricacies of our own supply chains. This month’s cover story, "Chain Challenges," , addresses the importance of understanding and knowing the risks associated with your suppliers and subsuppliers. Knowledge is power, and the more transparency there is at the deepest depths of the relationships, the better you can control and mitigate risk.

"Sample Simplification," explains how one manufacturer reconfigured its sampling approach to improve the quality of its incoming materials. The author contends the onus should fall on the supplier so that your organization isn’t entirely responsible for sampling. Offshore suppliers throw another level of complication in the mix because the time to resupply can escalate and create setbacks.

"Recognize, Rate and Resolve," , explains how a team at a hospital whipped its procurement processes into shape using a straightforward rating tool it created to anticipate and avoid risk in its pharmaceutical, medical or surgical products. Risk ratings were assigned by tallying scores related to three associated measures: severity, or impact of a potential defect, detectability, and frequency, or likelihood of failure. The result was a more proactive approach to addressing situations that might affect patient outcomes.

Expert Answers, provides some insights on helping an inspector negotiate supplier quality to ensure cost of quality is preserved. Our expert’s helpful tips can help you sort through the why, how and what of supplier quality.

Seiche Sanders

Seiche Sanders

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