Weed Out Bad Parts Before They Hurt You

Develop a plan to catch those items before they travel through the supply chain to your customer. Here's a plan that can save your company a bundle.

Of course, all of us want a customer to be happy with the product that customer gets. We don't want customers to call customer service to howl about about excess items, damaged items, wrong items, and even useless items they have received. It's a particularly sensitive point for those providing parts to the military.

Customers may have legitimate complaints about the items they have not received yet. They include items that have been sitting idly in the warehouse, have gone to wrong places, marked for shipment on a specific date but have not been shipped, or simply got lost during transit (e.g., fell off from a truck while on the road).

If the customer returns a defective part, it's important for companies to accurately manage inventory-repair float by capturing such data as:

  • When the defective part was identified (model name, serial number) for return;
  • How the defective part was identified (barcode or RFID tag);
  • When the defective part reached the consolidation point;
  • When the new part was shipped from what warehouse;
  • When the part was shipped to the repair facility; and
  • When it was returned to refurnished inventory.

Obtaining such vital information as a phone number, email address, location, and shipping address helps ensure that this information is used to follow up for a resolution and increase customer satisfaction. 

Don't wait
We don't have to wait for the customer to tell us that the part received is defective. Any actors in the supply chain should be able to catch the defective part before it reaches the customer. And, most important, you should be able to replace the bad part with the new one that the customer is expected to get in a timely manner.

Also important is being able to dynamically update the inventory as the defective part is replaced with the new part for shipment to the customer. If there is a delay in the shipment of the new part to the customer, a notification should be sent to that customer on the reason of the delay and expected shipment date and possibly a discount due to late shipment.

In addition to inventory update, accounting, billing, and monitoring needs to be updated as information on the part found to be defective and replaced when a new part is passed through the chain. The updates should be also applied to adjust accounting records of excess items, unshipped items, and recalls.

In sum, catch those unwanted items before they reach the end customers. If they do, they are more likely to go to a different supplier.

3 comments on “Weed Out Bad Parts Before They Hurt You

  1. Tom Murphy
    June 10, 2013

    This is a noble goal, Judith, but I'm not clear how you would accomplish it. For example, you say: “Any actors in the supply chain should be able to catch the defective part before it reaches the customer.”

    How is a shipper or distributor supposed to find a faulty electronic component that is carefully sealed in a foil pouch inside a sealed plastic container?  (I'm prepared to be amazed!)

  2. Marianne
    June 10, 2013

    Some kind of electronics device that can detect  defective parts inside a foil pouch inside a sealed plastic container depending what parts are.  It could be anything else — real engineering stuff. Also, if the foil pouch feels usually warm or too hot, one would know something is wrong with the part. Also, a machine vision equipment with some kind of X-ray eyes could be used to detect defective parts.

  3. SP
    June 15, 2013

    Absolutely, when you detect a bad part, get up and inform the right authorities, ge tit noticed and take action. Its all our moral responsibility. But how far one can go to ge this corrected. Say for e.g you got some ICs/flashes that are not getting program. All one can do is to request the supplier to take them back and get the new ones. But normally the lead times are higher and suppliers dont gurantee the replacement.

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