Supply Chain Visibility – The Key to Overcoming Quality Issues

Supply Chain Visibility – The Key to Overcoming Quality Issues

August 7, 2017

Quality issues are inevitable. But reacting to the issue(s) once goods arrive is not the solution – visibility into your supply chain is!  At NGC, we’ve been stressing the importance of supply chain visibility for years. With zero or limited visibility throughout the production processes, it’s difficult to address problems and/or institute a solid quality control program.

As retailers and brands come to realize what poor product quality means - not just to their brand reputation, but to their bottom line – they realize the need to implement better quality programs.  In our last post, Poor Product Quality – What It Means to Your Bottom Line, we identified the costs associated with poor quality.  Now let’s look at how to avoid quality issues – through supply chain visibility.

The Challenge - Lack of Visibility

Most brands and retailers work with overseas factories and vendors, which requires a great deal of trust, in large part because you won’t see the product until it is complete and shipped to your distribution centers (DCs) or stores. While language barriers and time differences often make communication difficult, varying interpretations of specs and quality standards can also adversely affect the quality of your products.

Without proper supply chain visibility, quality is an area where your business can fail due to factors that are out of your control. Issues can arise at any point in the supply chain, from an issue with the raw materials to the mishandling of materials. These complications can also be caused by poor management of the equipment or errors caused by poorly trained or overworked staff.

The Solution – Real-Time Visibility with Technology

Overcoming visibility issues is twofold.  First, you need to conduct audits earlier in the process, at the material level and/or in-line, prior to shipping the goods.  Performing in-line inspections will not only provide more visibility but also allow you to react to quality issues more quickly, and at a lower cost.  In addition, identifying issues along the way will help with diagnosing the root cause of a problem to avoid more issues in the future.

Second, you need to equip your vendors with the tools to perform the audits more accurately and efficiently, with an easy way to share and manage the audit results to ensure products pass your quality review prior to shipping.  This means getting away from spreadsheets and emails, and implementing a solution that provides real-time visibility into audit schedules, and the results.

Implementing a technology solution that provides a centralized location to:  issue audits, store and analyze the results, generate Corrective Action Plans (CAPs), when necessary, and communicate with your vendors in real-time, is the key to an effective quality control program.  Advanced solutions offer a Tablet App to perform on-site audits, with the ability to attach photos to support findings, and upload results directly into the solution.  Using an App vs. a spreadsheet ensures the efficiency and accuracy of the results uploaded.

Having visibility throughout the production processes allows you to react to quality issues sooner.  Further, if an issue is identified, a CAP can be automatically generated to resolve the problem, as well as an exception alert if a problem or delay is imminent.  And with all of the data in a common view, you have the information at your fingertips to produce reports, dashboards and analytics.

Benefits of Supply Chain Visibility

Some benefits gained through visibility into your supply chain processes include:

  • Increased speed to market
  • Reduction of vendor risks and the associated costs
  • Ability to identify QC problems earlier
  • Access to real-time analytics
  • Improved vendor relationships

How NGC Can Help

Implementing the right software, like our Andromeda Quality Control solution, will provide the supply chain visibility to identify problems sooner to reduce the risk of cancellations, chargebacks and returns.  At NGC, we’ve made it easier than ever for apparel brands and retailers to further integrate supply chain visibility and quality control. As part of the Andromeda cloud platform, you can effortlessly pull the necessary product and PO details needed to conduct the various audits from our Andromeda Supply Chain solution, or integrate Andromeda Quality Control with your current supply chain solution.

Find out more about how NGC can help you gain visibility and manage quality control, or request a demo, here.