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Distributor's Link Magazine Spring Issue 2014

30 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S

30 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK Dennis R. Cowhey Dennis, R. Cowhey, started Computer Insights, Inc. in 1981 and is currently CEO. He served for many years on the Illinois CPA Society Computer Information Systems Committee. He is a frequent author of articles for Industry Trade Magazines. Before starting Computer Insights, he served as Central District Manager for a division of Litton Industries (now part of Northup Grumman). That company offered Inventory Control Systems to Retailers. Prior to that, he was a Credit and Financial Analyst for National Credit Office division of Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. He received his education at Chicago City College and DePaul University. QUALITY IS NOT AN OPTION Quality assurance systems, once the exclusive province of manufacturers, are now finding their way into many fastener distributors. Some customers are insisting on them while others are choosing companies with quality systems as preferred vendors. Require Significant Investment A well run quality system is useful, but it can often be complicated and expensive to implement. Once implemented, the maintenance of the system can be a constant headache. Quality systems describe in detail what you are going to do, provide instructions on how to do it, and then document that you did it. A consultant is normally hired to assist in the preparation of the Quality Assurance system. It is quite useful to have a consultant involved since he or she has been through many audits and will be able to tell you the key issues that must be satisfied. The manual is different for every company because each company’s procedures are somewhat different. Many procedures need to be modified, enhanced or created in order to comply with the standards described in the manual. Detailed training of all of the people affected is needed so that the quality system can be implemented in a uniform manner. Subtle Differences - Big Difference Subtle differences in the definitions in the manual can make a big difference in the amount and type of reporting that the system requires. For example if the quality manual says any vendor shipment that is one day late must be reported as a problem, it will require that many purchase order receipts be reported. If the quality manual says to consider only late vendor receipts that impact deliveries as problems there will be far fewer to report and track. The latter definition is not only more forgiving, it is also more practical. When a person is looking at the vendor report card, it provides more useful information. Typical Standards Typical quality specifications in the fastener industry include ISO 9001:2008 and AS9100C amongst others. All of the Quality Assurance systems have certain things that are required. These include an inspection system, a problem reporting system, instrument calibration, document management, a machine maintenance system and the vendor and customer report cards. Non-Integrated In many companies the quality assurance system is a separate non-integrated system that is maintained in a separate database from the in-house ERP system. Maintaining the two separate systems becomes problematic. The quality system is often out of sync with the ERP information because of timing issues. When this happens preparing for an audit becomes a little bit of a crisis. Everyone is running around trying to get their records straight before the auditor arrives. This not only impacts productivity while preparing for the audit, it also means that since it isn’t up to date and accurate, the information in the quality system is not as valuable to management for process improvement programs. please turn to page 124

THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK 31

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