You Get What You Pay For

Today I spent most of my shift inspecting defective sheet metal instrument covers instead of shipping units to customers. Tomorrow I most likely will have to do the same thing again, ultimately wasting two days of production time. I had to drive to our parts warehouse armed with a mechanical drawing, a micrometer and a digital caliper set that one of our mechanical engineers loaned to me. Since this past summer when we switched our sheet metal fabrication from U.S. companies to Malaysia suppliers we’ve received an increasing amount of junk non-usable parts. Outer instrument covers are a huge problem. They do not fit properly over instrument chassis anymore because the inside dimensions are too small. I scrap out most of the brand new covers we paid for.

Aluminum instrument covers from Malaysia are eighteen dollars cheaper per unit than U.S. made covers.

Scrapping dozens of parts at a time doesn’t accomplish much. Sure we get a dollar amount credit from the vendor for more covers but at the end of each month I am still left short of a critical part. Credit for the bad parts guarantees us another delivery of unacceptable covers in a few weeks. The cycle continues unchecked and out of control. It’s jeopardizing monthly shipments. Something this stupid is entirely avoidable.

Because we are trying to save a few dollars by cutting corners and off-shoring, a chain reaction of negative consequences has been triggered. When all of our Quality Assurance employees were let go their department effectively ceased to exist. That means instrument lines have to perform their own QA inspections which they generally don’t have time for. There is no way to know if incoming supplies meet our requirements until it’s too late. Parts arrive on the shop floor just before they are needed to complete new units. If they are discovered to be out of specification or defective we’re totally fucked. Main Stores doesn’t keep much extra stock on-hand for a safety cushion so there aren’t quantities of replacement parts to be obtained quickly. A production line will be shut down until more parts arrive from halfway around the world.

Results from my part inspection were dismal. Out of 120 brand new covers, 80 of them did not meet minimum specified measurements. Many were also cosmetically damaged or seriously dented. That is just for one of our product lines. A smaller instrument that we manufacture uses an entirely different outer cover part. Since I was there already it made sense to inspect all thirty of those as well. Eight were heavily dented rendering them unusable, five failed the minimum spec measurement of 123.90mm by an average of .20mm. On the instrument line I already have another 40 covers from that purchase order and most of them don’t fit properly so they are headed for scrap bins.

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~ by factorypeasant on January 25, 2007.

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