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My Supplier Said to Me: RMA? It’s Just a Little Scratch

On the fifth (work) day of Christmas, my supplier said to me ‘Do you really think we need an RMA? It’s just a little scratch, does it really matter that much?’ 

As prices increase so does the demand for quality. Functionality and cosmetics are both priorities when thousands, and potentially millions of dollars are involved in purchasing a batch of parts. 

What about when the cosmetics affect the functionality? Consider this example. What if that small scratch runs across a functional surface where thousandths of an inch matter? The part then fails the quality test and is subsequently banished to the rejected parts closet. 

To answer the question of the supplier, yes, that little scratch does matter. 

It is absolutely critical that your suppliers understand their function in your business and the key metrics that you use to measure supplier performance. A lack of supplier accountability can lead to a lot of lost dollars out of your company’s bottom line and ultimately your bonus.

It could be as simple as a scratch, a screw hole that is out of specification, or an incorrect paint color. It doesn’t matter. A defect is a defect. Not only do you need to prevent those from arising, but when they inevitably do arise, it is crucial to deal with quality problems in a structured and timely manner.  

This once again highlights an area that is lacking within supply chain management technology. These discussions often happen over email or a series of phone calls, but this lacks business process definition and enforcement. X12 has a specification for the RMA 180 document, but this is little more than a notification and doesn’t facilitate the reject business process either. 

As supplier communications become more complex with the advancement of technology, the need for business process in your supplier communications is growing. Well defined business process always results in the removal of human error. In order to reap the maximum value from your supply chain consider the business process that drives your supplier communications and how it can be improved. 

Where are opportunities for improvement in your reject-based supplier communications?