My Supplier Said to Me: Just Use Different Screws

On the eleventh (work) day of Christmas my supplier said to me ‘are you sure you can’t just use new screws that fit the thread in the parts we already sent?’ 

Specification issues arise in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some are big issues and make you pause to ask how it’s possible that the batch was shipped. Other issues are so small it’s impressive that they were ever discovered. 

An incorrect thread cut into a screw hole is one of those things that is almost never discovered until the part that it lives in is installed. After the manufacturing tech encounters the issue on the assembly line, an inventory check is commissioned which reveals that the entire batch has screw holes that are out of specification. 

Clearly, this is a quality issue. So, what now? You can send an angry email, an RMA, or a Supplier Corrective Action Request, or you can buy different screws that resolve the problem without stirring the pot. If you opt for the last option, who is going to pay for the new screws and how is that going to ensure that this issue doesn’t come up again? The answer, of course, depends on how tightly you want to abide by your parts diagram and whether or not your process allows for part substitutions.

This issue, so small as screw threads, has now caused a ripple effect and is now impacting other parts as well as costing hundreds of dollars in parts and time to make up for the mistake. Even if it’s just a different screw, the problem resolution must be documented and handled appropriately so that when someone needs a replacement part, they can find the correct one. 

Even for something that appears so insignificant, you may need to execute a part purge and at the very least an RCCA discussion with your supplier, which is now completely outside the realm of EDI. How do you handle your RCCA communications? 

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