I acknowledge the efforts reported by Dell, but a continous quality improvement of health and safety needs of the workers must be primary. Dell's response is expected and may be the things I have written about in previous blogs are in the works, but I am not confident that all that needs to be done is being done.
My pessimism is based on the things that are not being reported. I am not hearing of documented trainings for the contractors. Mind you some of the work place health and safety requirements are new to these contractors and need to be taught and re-taught.
What is the work place incident reports like? Are there grievance resolution processes in place? These are the standards expected here and must be done for any worker anywhere in the world to the best of these companies abilities.
"We do, in fact, conduct audits of our partners' factories," I dont know about Dell but when I was working in authorized repair center indeed we had about two times per year audit but we knew exactly which days the auditors will come, so we followed the right process those days and the rest of the year we was working in wrong way.
Well Daisy good you raised this point about training documents. It is nice to here a reply from Dell, but i also feel they have not exactly mentioned the exact procedure or flow how the audits take place, also about the frequency of their visits and what measures or policies are taken to correct them. basically corrective measures and how they work on the improvements of the workers.
I agree, Ms. Daisy. It is great to see that Dell responded to EBN's request for information, and it's great to see that Dell looks to be working on the situation. However, how much improvement of the work conditions actually gets accomplished remains to be seen.
I have a lot of experience on Ethical auditing, and have yet to see any audit at a suppliers premises that is unplanned or a surprise.
The closest I would get to 'unplanned' would be two days notice to the factory, who would usually 'cancel' or have people off sick.
However I had the habit of still turning up for the audits, fortunatly I'm experienced enough that even with 2 weeks notice a factory would be very hard-pushed to 'clean up' its act if they were not performing in line with the requirements, some cannot even manage it with one months notice.
Sometimes if I am in the area whilst on another audit, I would just pop in for 'tea'.
That said,even the big 'independent' audit companies do not operate on a surprise visit system, because invariably they have leaks and the information gets back to the suppliers, because the information is worth money.
A "walk-thrugh", is rather an unfortunate term, because walking can be conducted at a range of speeds, and generally may indicate 'eyes-front', some suppliers even take this as a set expression to mean "i'm not here to cause you problems, just filling in the boxes"
Ultimately it matters not one jot, the level of paperwork or training a audit company can give, but all comes down to the individual inspector, who MUST be multi-discaplined (which is why Wintek has the problem with the cleaning fluid, the previous audit teams were NOT multi-discaplined which is possibly why it happened)
I think the surprise visits are highly important in audits. As you said, it is very easy to fix things up on a planned visit and make everything look proper. Besides this, I have felt that the visits generally last for a day or two. I don't think this time is adequate enough to properly assess things. The visits do not have to last for whole days, they can simply be for a couple of hours but should be scattered over several days. This is one way the management will be under pressure to follow and maintain the standards at all times.
Well its really good on behalf of Dell to respond immediately to issues of labor practice standards. But I feel its very difficult for companies in US to bringup the standards of their outsourced partner to their level unless the outsourced partner have the executive directors that have lived in US and then got settled in those parts of world. And practically there is vast difference in the way human rights are dealt with in US and in other parts of world. Anyway I agree it would be good for everyone if labor laws and human rights are followed in outsourced partner's day to day functioning as they are in parent companies.
Yes 'multi-disciplined', for some reason I have an issue with letters being missed and changed, or sometimes complete posts going missing, generally I spelling check a post as well.
One issue we see time and time again, is that 'some' 3rd party inspection agencies, train the staff to tick boxes in a mechanical way, very few have a background in anything else other than paperwork many are not even aware of how the factory processes come together and work as a whole.
Lets take for example an audit in an Electronics factory.(unfortunately I cannot embed pictures)
Many ethical auditors, on walking into the production area would not even notice the 'sweet smell' in the air, they would then carry on with the audit.(lets not forget that there were multiple prior audits at Wintek that failed to pick up the problems.)
Whilst our inspectors would not be trained in chemistry, they would be trained to know that air should not have a sweet smell.
As a result they would NOT enter the area, instead they would short circuit the audit to the 'Dangerous goods area', identify the materials in the stores, THEN they would go to the purchasing department, at this point they would cross-reference the markings on the containers with the purchase orders.
They would do this because some factories deliberately get their supplier to mis-label containers so that audit teams/local government inspectors cannot easily identify the chemicals being used on the shop floor, generally the purchasing dept. shows the material as it should be marked, with a cross reference used in the factory.
To all intents and purposes the audit would go-off track, but still cover all areas needed without subjecting the audit staff to potentially hazardous materials.(many independent audit companies will not allow this)
The 'production area' would then be marked as a fail, for EVERYTHING, purely because we would be prevented from auditing it safely.
So by multi-disciplined I mean that we would expect the inspectors to centralize their knowledge in a given area, but at the same time have reduced back ground in Chemistry, Electronics, Metal working, Cleaning, First-aid and obviously Employment law, plus also understand that an audit can go off the rails to chase down a problematic discovery. Many audit teams are far too ridged in their inspection procedures as a result it gives the supplier a framework to 'work-round' so that the supplier looks like they are highly compliant but in reality it is just smoke and mirrors.
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
While no one really can accurately predict the future, we can take guidance from another Drucker saying which is the best way to predict the future is to create it.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.