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How to Become a Preferred Manufacturing Supplier

April 10, 2018

Becoming a preferred supplier is a status most manufacturers want to attain and keep. To achieve this, you need to keep a close eye on quality performance while managing all the work involved with proving compliance. After all, your customers use compliance as a way to weed out lower performing suppliers so the two go hand in hand—even though compliance presents a whole set of headaches for you.

Your goal then is to eliminate risks to quality performance and compliance. What we like to call “operationalizing quality” is error-proofing quality management through a connected system that enforces proper procedures outlined on the control plan your customer signed off on. But not only that, this always-available system becomes your single source of truth containing all company, production, and compliance data in one place for reference in case of an issue or a routine audit. This “always-on” quality management is data-driven, not gut-driven, and reduces the risk of non-compliance but more importantly, non-performance.

To ensure production and quality control you have a whole set of processes and procedures operators follow on the shop floor. If these are paper-based, it’s difficult and time-consuming to go back to verify when a quality check occurred or if something was skipped—especially if operators complete checksheets after procedures are complete. You also have to spend a lot of time sorting through stacks of paper to make sure documentation is up to date to prepare for an audit or in the case of a recall. Automating and digitally capturing each step and then tying that to the production control plan provides an error-proofing mechanism that governs operational behavior and doubles as documentation evidence. What’s even more beneficial is it’s all done in real time. The risks of non-conformance drop to almost zero (people always seem to find a way around any system).

Keeping up with changing requirements while keeping your business operating profitably is no easy task. You should be focusing on continuous improvement instead of on manual or repetitive data entry. A system that takes the risk out of compliance enforces procedures and approvals while ensuring that compliant activities are completed before any subsequent steps can be started.

Taking a risk-based approach to quality and compliance can yield significant results according to a recently published LNS report: 14% lower warranty rates, 40% lower supplier defect rates, 1% higher first-pass yield, and 8% higher on-time delivery.

See how you can attain and sustain your preferred supplier status by attending the webinar with LNS Research, Performance Over Compliance: A Roadmap to Preferred Supplier Status.

About the Author

Stu Johnson Director of Product Marketing, Plex Systems

Stu Johnson served as Director of Product Marketing of Plex Systems from June 2014 to March 2020.