PART 2. Quality Assurance in Outsourced Manufacturing

Updated: Jun 19, 2020


In our last article, we discussed three variables affecting product quality assurance in outsourced manufacturing. Chiefly, they were: unauthorized subcontracting, ineffective cycle times regulation, and unmonitored preventative maintenance practices.

Generally speaking, OEMs address these three issues poorly, or not at all. Without decisive solutions, OEMs will find quality assurance problematic when individual components travel through the supply chain and reach the final assembly stage. But the fact is, there have not yet been any concrete, definitive solutions targeting them.

Until now.

In 2012, Samsung Electronics was in a similar position, facing these long standing problems and worked to address them once and for all. Lacking accurate, real-time tooling data as the core reason behind their troubles, Samsung Electronics and eMoldino collaborated to create a solution. A solution that tracks mold cycle times, shot counts, uptime, location and transmits this information automatically to a data analytics system.

eMoldino´s intended purpose is unprecedented -- to be an all-in-one solution for issues across the entirety of the outsourced manufacturing sector. In Samsung’s case, it was specifically used to promote effective supplier evaluation and data transparency. But by addressing unauthorized subcontracting, cycle time management, and poor preventative maintenance, eMoldino can be used as a tool for quality assurance as well.

Read More: Samsung Business Case Study

Unauthorized Subcontracting: Mold Location

In the case of outsourced manufacturing, OEMs usually give their molds to suppliers for them to manufacture the parts needed. Subcontracting happens when suppliers allocate these very same molds to other suppliers.

Though subcontracting usually occurs in the interest of production efficiency, the fact remains that manufacturing is carried out by agents unapproved by the OEM. OEMs have no way of checking these subcontractors, their processes, or the resulting products.

An elegant way to curb unauthorized subcontracting would be to track a mold’s current operating status and location. eMoldino solution tells OEMs whether their molds are where they ought to be and whether their molds have been moved without their authorization, preventing suppliers from haphazardly passing those molds on to lower-tier subcontractors.

Cycle Time Control: Cycle Time Tracking

Coldly speaking, the supplier’s best interest is to produce as fast as possible and save time and money over the long run, therefore operating at lower-than-recommended cycle times. While not all suppliers are so opportunistic, failure to keep suppliers in check risks producing flawed products and hampers quality assurance.

To be fair, OEMs merely lacked the right tools. What they need is a means of real-time tracking of cycle times. Actual, hard data will make any deviations between a supplier’s operational and recommended cycle times abundantly clear. This is the most basic function of eMoldino's mold counter.

If an OEM wishes to see sustainable, quality production values, then naturally, their suppliers should follow the recommended cycle time as closely as possible. eMoldino allows OEMs to see all these things at once, in a way that is accurate, up-to-date, and completely automated.

Brochure: Cycle Time Variance & Quality Management

Poor Preventative Maintenance: Shot Count Alerts

On their own, suppliers are less likely to be up to date on their maintenance upkeep. Molds can be overworked over hundreds of thousands of “shots” during their lifespans. Preventative maintenance must be performed throughout regular intervals; if not, the mold will likely develop problems that negatively impact part quality.

One of the best practices in the industry for choosing when to perform maintenance is by comparing a mold’s “maximum” shot count (the number of shots the mold may perform before getting compromised from overuse) against its “actual” shot count. Preventative maintenance can be scheduled on regular intervals within this maximum shot count.

eMoldino is a direct augmentation for this practice, allowing OEMs to create a preventative maintenance alert system grounded upon hard, accurate data. By so doing, OEMs and suppliers will be the first to be alerted should one of their molds need maintenance. This newfound visibility through eMoldino will ensure that molds are well-maintained,

Quality through eMoldino

Quality assurance is a massively important area in outsourced manufacturing, yet directed, specialized solutions for it are few and far between. MES and ERP systems abound in the market, all providing valuable information to their users. But do they really address quality assurance in a way that targets specific, calculable variables?

In the end, eMoldino is about providing OEMs visibility, and through that visibility, keeping contract manufacturers accountable. Unauthorized subcontracting, cycle time deviance, and poor preventative maintenance are all a result of poor supplier behavior.

In a world without context, a suppliers’ main interest would be to complete a project as fast and cheaply as possible. Taken to the extreme, this could create quality issues.

eMoldino was created as a response to this reality. Tracking mold location, cycle times, uptime and shot counts, eMoldino has been utilized by top-tier manufacturing companies to address issues described during the course of this article. In so doing, they were able to contribute to that all-important and nebulous concept of quality assurance, helping to prevent monetary and reputation damages the likes of which all manufacturers fear.

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