The measurable costs of correcting a defect rise as the defective product travels further along the process, and jump significantly if the defect reaches the customer.
Here are some of the costs a defect may cause:
- scrap – Not just the material that is thrown out, but also the labour expended on the product to that point is effectively scrapped. Sometimes assemblies cannot be disassembled, so the whole lot must be scrapped.
- rework – Extra labour and materials spent fixing the problem if the product is salvageable
- time spent deciding whether to scrap or rework – possibly involving more than one person
- time spent in purchasing to procure the extra materials
- downgrading of the product (e.g. discounted ‘seconds’)
- extra operations in the process to deal with the presence of defects
- the need for excess production capacity or excess inventory to support poor process yields and rejected lots
- investigation into the causes of defects
- preventable spills and accidents
- overtime to meet the production deadline
And we’re not even out of the factory yet!
If the defective product reaches the customer, there’s a whole other ‘can of worms’ opened:
- Processing of customer complaints – not just recording, but investigating the complaint and deciding what action will be taken, which may involve discussions with several people.
- Customer returns – refunds / repairs / shipping
- Warranty claims – replace / repair
- Product recalls, retrofit and patch costs
- Field service costs – travel, accommodation
- Preparation of support answer books
- Shipping of corrected product
- Added expense of supporting multiple versions of the product in the field
- PR work for ‘Damage control’
- Discounts to resellers to encourage them to keep selling the product
- Penalties e.g for late delivery or other Service Level Agreement penalties
- Government investigations
And on top of all that, there’s intangible costs
- Loss of reputation /good will
Of course, there are also costs associated with good quality, but these are generally far outweighed by the costs associated with poor quality.
An ISO 9001 compliant quality management system can help your company avoid or minimize these costs.