Managing Supplier Quality with Global SPC

February 1, 2009
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Zontec 3000 System Architecture


Managing supplier quality has become one of today’s most critical business challenges. Manufacturers with diverse operations must focus on broadening the scope of quality by implementing more standardized, flexible and responsive tools to measure and manage their business. Today, corporate profitability is a result of centralized quality management through collaborating, interconnected and integrated processes.

Information technology to support such a vast cooperative global infrastructure is no longer a vision. Zontec’s Synergy 3000TM Statistical Process Control (SPC) Software for Windows® and the Web allows manufacturers to exercise total control over supplier quality. The system enables manufacturers to rapidly implement uniform data collection procedures within their supplier community while overseeing their production activities 24/7.

Synergy 3000 is an ongoing supplier performance assessment tool designed around a powerful SQL database system that permits any process participant anywhere in the world to exchange information with others, manage the process, make sound business decisions and contribute to the quality function.

A Cost-Effective, Global Solution

Maintaining a successful supplier quality initiative has evolved into a massive information management task. Inaccurate or incomplete supplier data is often identified as one of the top internal customer problems impacting supply chain relationships. The document-intensive nature of programs such as PPAP (production part approval process) in the automotive industry and PAT (process analytical technology) in the pharmaceutical industry, for example, presents countless recordkeeping and management challenges. Synergy 3000 SPC software has been designed to give customers total control over management of supplier data, significantly reducing the opportunity for supplier non-conformance and minimizing the need for waivers, exemptions, or deviation from process protocol. Zontec can simplify cumbersome paperwork activities and streamline communication channels between customers and suppliers by making production data available online and in real time. Authorized system users can literally help themselves to information whenever the need arises.

Synergy 3000 provides customers with an appropriate combination of Windows and Web users to address process verification and adherence to requirements. Central configuration and ongoing data management is carried out at the customer’s own data center, minimizing IT involvement at each supplier facility and freeing suppliers of inconsistencies in data collection, reporting, and security. Because the centralized data warehouse serves as host to individual SQL databases for each supplier or specific process, the customer assumes complete responsibility for maintaining and securing supplier data, implementing proper control plans and achieving lot traceability genealogy as defined by design records, contract terms, and conditions. Synergy 3000 delivers the consistent, global view of quality for real-time operational excellence and support for ISO 9001 and TS 16949 international quality standards.

Using the Synergy 3000 Web Operator application allows customers to convey requirements to their suppliers, implement uniform data collection procedures across multiple locations, and spot trends and quickly identify quality issues well before non-conforming products are ever manufactured. Notes documenting causes and corrective actions are incorporated into the data collection process to ensure full accountability during production.

Operators frequently need access to standard operating procedures, engineering drawings, instructional guides, flow diagrams and visual aids during production runs. The Zontec global quality management system facilitates ready reference to documents directly within the application, eliminating paper records and version conflicts since the documents are stored electronically within the customer’s supplier database and are centrally controlled.

The Web Operator application serves an important dual purpose, benefiting suppliers and customers alike. It provides suppliers with the tool for long-term continuous improvement while allowing customers to manage remote processes as efficiently as they would for their own on-site production.

A Worldwide Troubleshooting Resource

A second, complementary browser application, the Synergy 3000 Web Manager, has been designed for remote users, mobile employees and telecommuters who need to verify process status using only an Internet connection. The Web Manager delivers a “command central” dashboard view of every process condition anywhere in the world. If more detailed information is desired, Web Managers can access the actual data spreadsheets for individual suppliers to examine specific SPC observations, traceability tags or Operator adjustments made during production. A full array of SPC charts and executive reports can be generated in real time. Furthermore, the system can be configured to automatically trigger e-mail alerts and cell phone text messages to designated customer and supplier representatives when out-of-control conditions occur, enhancing the system as a worldwide troubleshooting resource.

By taking advantage of this proactive approach, Web Manager users can review supplier conformance to requirements before authorizing shipment, prevent the need to quarantine non-conforming products that were inadvertently shipped, or potentially stave off a future product recall due to reliability or safety issues. In many cases, incoming inspections can be reduced or eliminated at the customer site through the many built-in preventive measures in Synergy 3000.

Industry-Leading ROI

Unlike complex enterprise business systems that involve lengthy IT implementation timetables and extended time-to-benefit, a global Synergy 3000 SPC rollout can occur within a matter of days, and suppliers can begin measuring improvements and reducing costs on their very first project. Inefficient processes can drain 20% or more from a corporate bottom line, therefore calculating a Synergy 3000 return-on-investment can be an encouraging financial exercise.

Begin with the current annual personnel expenses for running your supplier quality program and statistical process control functions. Next, figure the total implementation cost for the new system. This expense category should include:
  • Computer hardware and related equipment costs, including the network.
  • Cost of both the Synergy 3000 and SQL database software
  • Training expenses
Finally, your cost justification will reflect the total initial savings for the project. The cost justification is where dramatic improvements can be demonstrated. It should factor in such benefits as:
  • Having a global SPC system in place with only one system to manage
  • Real-time information sharing and improved time-to-decision (a better system for measuring and managing the business)
  • Having total control over both internal processes and the supply chain
  • Improved regulatory compliance
  • Historical information readily available for future analysis and reporting
  • Instant feedback on every level of operation
  • Elimination of a paper-based records system
  • Being more proactive by predicting and preventing problems rather than inspecting and rejecting parts after production
  • Replacement of manual activities by automating data collection, calculations and SPC charts
  • Reduction in data entry errors by using automatic input devices
  • Efficiencies realized through instant traceability and audit trail generation
  • Reduction in travel to supplier facilities for knowledge transfer, procedural training and supervision
  • Reduction in incoming inspection
  • On-the spot conformance to requirements and quality prior to shipment
  • Improved customer and supplier relationships
  • Manufacturing cost savings
  • Rapid return on system investment
  • Scrap reduction and decrease in rework
  • Faster time-to-market as a competitive advantage
Conservatively speaking, the net savings for the global supplier quality system may result in a multi-million dollar figure. And based on Zontec’s experience, the low investment cost can actually achieve a return-on-investment of over 900% and a payback in as little as one month.

To flourish in this highly competitive marketplace, global businesses must focus their quality efforts on process collaboration and cooperation up and down the supply chain. Synergy 3000 represents a reasonably small to moderate technology investment that satisfies the urgent quality challenges of today with a long-term, continuous improvement tool designed for a competitive advantage.

For more information, visit www.zontec-spc.com.

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