GSQA® makes life easier for suppliers by offering many paths for submitting their COA data. Broad conformance to a mandatory “COA with each shipment” policy depends on providing methods for data entry that match suppliers’ capabilities. From “mom & pop” operations to mega-suppliers their willingness to participate does depend on the range of input methods. The bottom line is that inbound materials must have quality documentation that fits some standard for internal analysis.
We cannot speak for all smaller companies, but some want the very least change and want to continue sending their COAs in paper form with the driver, via fax, or as e-mail attachments. Others of the same size want a web-presence and desire a “preferred supplier” status so an electronic connection to their customers is highly favorable On that basis alone, which would you rather have as a supply chain partner?
If you are a large organization with a multitude of suppliers around the globe all using different record keeping systems, they all don’t have to learn one data input approach. Even if you have a core of smaller suppliers, GSQA still offers a data entry capability that simplifies transmitting information rather than complicating it.
Why Easy Is Important
Making many data entry options possible simplifies entry for your suppliers and eliminates the need for them to learn a new input method before you can begin to see the results.
The GSQA transmission and format options include the following:
- EDI — Suppliers using EDI can send their COA data directly into GSQA using their current EDI protocols and software packages (AS2).
- EDI Internet — For suppliers that want to eliminate the EDI VAN charges, the e-COA® service receives COA messages over the Internet in a variety of protocols.
- XML — The e-COA service gathers COA messages transmitted using XML messaging, allowing technologically advanced suppliers to use connectivity options with both current (AS2 and sFTP) and future protocols.
- On-line Services — Elemica and RubberNetwork offer their own transport/formats for their industry clients and GSQA can retrieve that information directly.
- Web Browser — The e-COA Service’s web browser interface offers an intuitive and user-friendly replacement for spreadsheets, word processor documents and other paper-based methods of transmitting critical COA information.
- Direct Keying — data can be keyed directly into an e-COA with the GSQA screens and field labels in the language of the user.
- Copy and Paste — Spreadsheet contents can be copied and pasted directly into the e-COA, which speeds the direct entry of data.
- Test Data Upload — Even faster, a spreadsheet of COA test data can be directly uploaded.
- CSV Format — COA and advanced ship notice data (ASN) can be output from a computer in a CSV format and uploaded via the GSQA portal.
- E-mail & Fax — EMNS offers a transcription service for suppliers in transition to an electronic means of transmitting COA information.
- Automatic Document Processing — (Fax image, e-mail image file, e-mail PDF). Although document scanning with optical character recognition (OCR) seems to be the easiest solution, it has inherent issues in quality and data extraction. While the technology for scanning/OCR has improved measurably, a document’s appearance quality still determines the accuracy of data capture. The EMNS auto-document capture service automatically polls fax numbers and e-mail addresses for candidate documents utilizes a “learned format” analysis with scan-success probabilities, provides an easy-to-use edit functionality, and data flow structure directly into GSQA for high-quality data capture.Manual text correction is often needed to increase OCR accuracy. While offered by EMNS, document-based data capture is only viable or cost effective on a large scale if the document preparation is performed and adhered to, including format, delivery, content and appearance.
- Custom — Specialized input methods will be considered. Begin by contacting us to discuss the best procedure.
What Is “Traceability” And How Can You Get It?
When there is a leak in the roof of your plant, you need to know where the water is coming in so that you can stop it. That, in a nutshell, explains the purpose and value of traceability. If your product is found to contain a defect or contaminant leading to a voluntary or mandated recall – or even to a potentially costly lawsuit – you need to know the source of the faulty condition in order to defend the integrity of your brand, minimize your risk/costs and prevent similarly negative market impact from occurring in the future.
As with the roof leak, the solution involves tracing a problem back to its source. Traceability relies on the completeness of the information you have about every step in your supply chain. That information is the only tool that can speed your ability to chronologically investigate unique processes and entities on the way to root-cause determination.
Traceability is critical in many industries, from the automotive industry, where it makes recalls possible, to the food industry where it contributes to food safety. It is increasingly important to retailers, many of which are now choosing to make information regarding their supply chain freely available to customers, illustrating the fact that the products they sell are manufactured in factories with safe working conditions, by workers that earn a fair wage, using methods that do not damage the environment.
In August 2011, a large meat processor had to recall 36 million pounds of ground turkey — one of the largest food recalls on record — when part of it tested positive for salmonella. When a former FDA official said the initial source of the turkeys could be the problem, a spokesman for the meat processor stated that the company hadn’t yet traced the source of the contamination. One month later, the processor had to recall another 185,000 pounds of the same product.
Readily accessible data for each turkey product, back to the production facility, back to the incoming lot, back to a supplying farm back to the feed formulations and pharmaceutical regimen would have helped enable the company to identify that source and to protect against future contamination.
The key to the success of any tracking and tracing operation is the ready availability of tracking data. This need is what led originally to the development of Certificates of Analysis (COAs) that detailed the history and source of raw materials and constituent parts that were received by companies. As recalls became more expensive, both in dollars lost and loss of brand image integrity, the need for prompt action led to the next evolutionary development: the e-COA or electronic COA.
The GSQA e-COA provides a single source for processing and storing suppliers’ material information. Companies see more timely information from their suppliers and attain complete supplier traceability since our e-COA uses an electronic path to submit COAs versus paper-based systems. GSQA provides a single source for you to track your shipments through your supply chain, even in multi-tier supply chains, providing insight for both your direct suppliers and indirect suppliers.
Whether it is from farm to fork, fishery to factory, mine to manufacturing or anything in between, GSQA provides supplier traceability. Had the turkey processor had this capability, it could have quickly identified the offending source of the batch contaminated with salmonella and had the ability to prevent the later recall and the untold damage to its brand reputation.
The GSQA e-COA collects lot level information directly from the supplier, presents the data in a consistent, usable fashion, and automatically calculates whether a process is statistically in control. GSQA supports many different paths to submit COAs, including EDI, EDI Internet, XML, web browser, spreadsheet upload and fax. The e-COA capability uses a SaaS (Software as a Service) model that eliminates the need for you to invest in dedicated hardware and software.
Say Goodbye to the Pain of Non-Conformances
The ultimate pain of receiving nonconforming materials from a supplier, i.e., materials that don’t match your specifications, is the shutdown of your production. But in practice, the real pain results from the time, money and productivity you lose while dealing with the non-conformances and the production delays they cause.
A large automotive materials manufacturer, for example, was having a problem with suppliers sending it components that did not meet its specifications. To protect itself against a potential loss of production, it had to:
- Increase its safety stock buffer — It had to maintain a larger inventory of reliably qualified materials onsite to ensure that unreliable receipts did not shut down production. This tied up money in excess inventory.
- Increase qualification time — All incoming material had to be thoroughly tested to qualify it. This required the manufacturer to maintain sufficient staff and allow sufficient time for reliable testing and measurement.
- Increase logistics costs — All non-conforming material had to be returned to the supplier and the replacement material then shipped back, to be tested again. While much of the shipping cost could be charged to the supplier, the manufacturer also had unplanned additional preparation and administrative costs, in addition to the cost of lost time, both in the shipping department and on the production floor.
- Reduce productivity — As the onsite inventory of qualified components declined as a result of the time-consuming qualification, rejection and shipping delays, the percentage of plant activity had to be reduced. This in turn risked a loss of confidence from downstream customers for whom delays put their own productivity at risk.In the traditional manufacturing environment, a single component gear that does not meet specification can shut down an entire production line. The same is true for any manufacturing operation, from food and pharmaceutical processing to an electronic assembly operation. These operations are designed to run smoothly, and any interference means losses.
But what if it was possible to qualify supplied components before they left the supplier’s facility?
That is exactly what the GSQA interface does make possible.
Suppliers want to do a good job, and on-conformances are most often due to out-of-date information, not shoddy work. Using the web, the GSQA system transmits to the supplier the latest specifications for the component material it is to supply. This eliminates any uncertainty on the supplier’s part and ensures that there are no non-conformances caused by a gap between old and up-to-date specifications.
The reliability of these specifications means that the burden (and cost) of much of the testing and qualifying of materials can be transferred to the supplier. Using the GSQA system, the supplier prepares a detailed electronic Certificate of Analysis (e-COA) for each shipment and sends it to the manufacturer before shipping the material. This lets the manufacturer reduce its own testing to random confirmation testing, and over time lets it certify the most reliable suppliers as Qualified Suppliers, further reducing the need to test material received from them.
Reduced Logistics Costs
Because materials are now being qualified in advance; there is no longer a need to return shipments, reducing logistics costs for both the supplier and the manufacturer. This directly affects overhead, giving both the supplier and the manufacturer more confidence in establishing and stabilizing pricing.
Reduced Work in Process
As materials now arrive on a reliable schedule, manufacturing managers need to make fewer adjustments to assembly and finishing schedules, and production becomes more reliable. No longer do products have to wait as Work in Process while waiting for out-of-spec parts to be re-made and re-shipped.
Reduced Buffer and Finished Goods Inventories
The buffer inventory, created specifically to deal with the problem of delayed incoming components, can now be reduced. As the flow of production improves and delivery of finished goods to customers becomes more reliable, orders typically increase. Inventory of finished goods is then reduced as goods are promptly shipped.
Business experts have recently identified the excessive size of these critical inventories as the main cause of many company failures, as they locked up more and more money while at the same representing a slowdown of productivity.
For its part, the automotive materials manufacturer saw all of these benefits after it applied the GSQA interface with its suppliers. It has seen the pain of non-conformances reduced drastically, and continuous improvement in its productivity. In addition, the GSQA application has proved itself to be an invaluable system of plant-level savings, reducing costs in areas from preparing specifications to plant record keeping and cost recovery.
The pain of non-conformances has been successfully treated.