Clients judge manufacturers in three key areas: quality, output and unit cost. Buyers want to see their order fulfilled with as few faults or flaws as possible, and they expect their goods to be delivered on time and within budget.

However, errors still slip through the cracks from time to time. Sometimes a production run must be redone to meet the high standards you and your client set. You might refund a client for an unsatisfactory order, and that hurts both your reputation and your bottom line. While it’s often the cost of doing business, ideally these expenses are kept to an absolute minimum.

The manufacturer is rarely the sole responsible party when these hiccups in production occur, but they’re often saddled with the cost – and the blame – for flawed merchandise. Even if you produce everything internally, your earnings depend on your supplies. If your machines or components aren’t operating efficiently or meeting specifications, you’re bound to suffer under a demanding production schedule. Investing in the right vendor to supply your equipment and parts significantly impacts your team’s throughputs, outputs, and processes.

You rely on your supplier’s teams, machines, and processes. Components can arrive from all over the world, so how can you be sure that every bolt, screw, and joint will hold up under pressure? Just as it’s important that your own production adheres to a strict standard of quality and compliance, so should your suppliers maintain a reliable benchmark of excellence.

Comparing vendor quality is crucial for refining an efficient organization. You must carefully monitor your supplies to guarantee that your client receives a product that is affordable, timely, and dependable.

Difficulties comparing vendors

Until manufacturers inspect upgrade to digital platforms to monitor assets and vendor outputs, managers will struggle to establish a bird’s-eye view of their supply chain. Here are some of the problems software for manufacturing companies can help to decide:

#1: Poor visibility: Manufacturers can’t make critical decisions about their vendors when information remains isolated in data silos or is inconsistent. Corrective and preventive action reports disappear in the maze of supplier relations and emails, and comparing vendors becomes difficult and time-consuming.

#2: Delayed reporting: When reporting is stretched out over the length of a busy supply chain, it’s rarely standardized. Not only does this make vendor comparisons difficult, but maintaining compliance with industry or ISO standards becomes an enormous challenge. Without clear, frequent, and timely reporting from vendors, locating the root cause of a production issue can take time and money that is better spent on building and improving your business.

#3: Weak audit trails: Manufacturers of every specialty are faced with increasingly strict and complex regulations. They must adhere to more compliance requirements than ever before, from FCPA in the automotive sector to GMP in the device and drug industry. To guarantee that vendor quality meets those regulatory standards, manufacturers must record, organize, and understand their audits. Administrators wielding spreadsheets or paper records will struggle to maintain a clear picture of their inspection data, resulting in noncompliant products.

#4: Insufficient error tracking: For some manufacturers, hiccups in vendor quality are just anomalies; it’s the cost of doing business. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. If you can’t see where errors occur across your supply chain, those data blind spots will cripple your output. The pressure to ship goods rapidly can force you to resolve issues reactively, leaving gaps in visibility. When you adopt a proactive process, you can prevent and reduce errors from vendors or know when it’s time to find a new supplier should that vendor fail to improve.

With digital tools at your disposal, vendor tracking and comparison becomes smarter and easier. The trick to improving performance is selecting the right tools.

Following are the few essentials you’ll need in Comparing Vendor Quality more effectively:

  • Real-time production analytics for vendors and the machines you use.
  • Issue tracking with processes in place to log nonconformity issues as soon as they occur and consistent procedures to fix problems sooner.
  • Consistent vendor scorecards to keep every vendor and internal team accountable to the same set of key performance indicators, making it easier to audit performance and compare quality outputs and delivery timescales.
  • Vendor audits – Drive continuous improvements through annual audits. Collecting all this data in one system helps you track issues throughout the supply chain without the chaos of paper or spreadsheet-based systems.