Quality is an important part of the supply chain, whether it is quality inspections during the manufacturing process, quality checks before goods arrive at the customer, or checking the quality as raw materials and parts enter the factory. Before any part or raw material is used in a manufacturer of a finished good that will be delivered to a customer, it is the responsibility of the purchasing department to ensure that the materials that arrive are of the correct quality specification.
Quality in the Purchasing Process
When the purchasing department is looking at the procurement of materials from suppliers, they will have been given some guidance by the manufacturing department, research, and development, or the quality department.
This should include a variety of information about the item to be sourced, such as:
- Physical description
- Dimensional measurements
- Chemical composition
- Performance specifications
- Industrial standards
- Brand name
The purchasing department must know the physical attributes of the part they are required to source.
For example, if the required material must be made of a certain shade of a blue, then the purchasing department must be able to communicate that requirement to the potential suppliers to ensure that the specification can be met.
This is very important for sourced materials that are used in the chemical process. The quality department should give the purchasing team a detailed list of chemical specifications of the required material. This should include a list of characteristics and specifications that the materials should conform to, as well as the ranges that the materials must lie within. For example, a sourced chemical may be required to have a pH of between 5.6 and 5.9; otherwise, the material would not be suitable for the manufacturing processes.
For a part to be used in the manufacturer of a machine the part must conform to certain dimensional specifications.
For example, if the manufacture of a finished item required the use of a Pentalobe TS1 screw with a length of 4mm, then the supplier must be able to produce the item in that correct size.
If a part is required to withstand certain forces or perform in a particular manner, the purchasing department must find a supplier that can achieve those specifications.
For example, on a household item such as a washing machine, the rubber belt that is used must be able to withstand certain forces and not fail within a certain number of revolutions. This quality measurement is key for a business if they are to produce finished goods that are reliable in the eyes of their customers. Therefore, it is important for the purchasing department to find suppliers who can provide parts that meet quality specifications.
Some parts required for the production of finished goods must conform to certain industry standards. These standards are set by a number of trade or industry groups who try to maintain a certain level of quality. By having an item that conforms to a particular industry standard, the customer will have a level of confidence in the product.
There are a number of industry standards that are used, such as Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), which is a global association of more than 128,000 engineers and related technical experts in the aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industries. The society has hundreds of standards that relate to different technical aspects of manufacturing.
Sometimes the quality department or development team will inform the purchasing department to only source a particular brand name. This may be due to the specific nature of the part made by one company or the level of quality it has over competitors.
The quality of the parts and raw materials that are used by a company makes a difference to the finished products that are sold to their customers. By ensuring that the purchased parts are of a specific quality, as defined by the development, manufacturing, or quality departments, the purchasing department is ensuring that the quality of the finished goods is maintained.
This article has been updated by Gary Marion