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No way was that us... it must have been you!

Discussion in 'Manufacturing and Related Processes' started by Colin Pitman, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. Colin Pitman

    Colin Pitman Member

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    Ok, so one of our products is a standalone control keypad (roughly the size and shape of a landline telephone) which remotely controls a piece of hospital equipment. It is pristine white with chunky buttons in primary colours (it could pass for a kids toy). The assemblers putting these together self-inspect and take immense pride in their work. They are made in small batches (e.g. 10). They are given a look over by another inspector when complete and are signed off. They then get put into vacuum-sealed bags, then into boxes with custom moulded foam inserts and are then taped shut ready for shipping.

    We've been making them for years, and yes, we're not perfect: we've had the odd complaint about fingerprints, marks, or other cosmetic appearances... but never this:

    Today I get a customer complaint with a photo showing a keypad with a chunk missing out of its side where it's obviously been dropped onto concrete or something. There is no way this could have happened at our site! Even if the assembler had sabotaged it, and the inspector had their eyes closed - the packing guys (who are actually quite a switched on team) would have stopped and reported it immediately.

    According to the customer it was an out-of-box issue that their on-site installer found on the other side of the world (naturally :rolleyes:) and I have to do a CAPA report.

    I don't buy it. What would you do in this situation?
     
  2. Nikki

    Nikki Well-Known Member

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    We photograph international shipments prior to shipping to prove everything was solid and sound when it left the building.

    Not sure if that's possible for you - but just an idea.
     
    Bev D likes this.
  3. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    How significant is this customer? Since it's not that common and the old adage rings true (if not accurate) "the customer is always right", shrug, smile sweetly, replace it and wow them. If it happens again (Nikki's idea of photographing them, packed before being shipped to THAT specific customer is really good) then you can push back.
     
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  4. Colin Pitman

    Colin Pitman Member

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    Hi Nikki, yes, it's definitely something I've thought a lot about in recent days. The amount of returns we get back because of 'damage' is a crazy amount. It's certainly worth us considering in the future. Maybe if we push back a bit with photographic evidence, customers will be more wary about sending stuff back in the first place.

    Doesn't help me right now though... What would you put down?
     
  5. Colin Pitman

    Colin Pitman Member

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    It's a significant customer. Replacement is what will happen anyway - almost without my intervention. I just have to do the CAPA. I think I'll just put something to the effect that our handling processes are deemed adequate and that the damage happened at an unknown time/location. PA may be to get a camera and start snapping :D
     
    Andy Nichols likes this.
  6. hogheavenfarm

    hogheavenfarm Well-Known Member

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    I have used photos for years, I found them extremely effective at eliminating these kinds of claims. Standard procedure for us now, and doesnt take long either.
     
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  7. Colin Pitman

    Colin Pitman Member

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    Sounds like we need to invest in some kind of permanent set up. I'll have to think carefully about how to implement this, we pack and ship hundreds of assemblies a day, and even a quick process per unit will slow things up noticeably. I'd also somehow have to record serial numbers for each photo.

    Lots to think about...!
     
  8. hogheavenfarm

    hogheavenfarm Well-Known Member

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    We also do this on incoming material and products, this saves hassle between the shipping companies and the supplier. I have many pics of a totalled destroyed box that contents were fine, and some with perfect packaging and the merchandise was obviously damaged before shipping to us. Its funny how fast things get quiet when you send a photo.
     
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  9. yodon

    yodon Active Member

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    Two questions:
    1) Why a CAPA? Sounds like a single instance, not a systemic issue.
    2) How sure are you that this couldn't have happened during shipping?
     
  10. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    This is why there has been the suggestion to take a picture prior to shipping - evidence that it was not shipped in that damaged state.
     
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  11. Colin Pitman

    Colin Pitman Member

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  12. Bev D

    Bev D Moderator Staff Member

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    Shipping damage? Can you do a box test to determine if the box were dropped - or thrown - that the damage could occur?
     
  13. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    You could implement something just for this particular Client as part of a pilot program that may:

    1. Help provide confidence to the Client that you're not shipping damaged products.
    2. Determine the impact to the process speed/outputs.
     
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  14. Jennifer Kirley

    Jennifer Kirley Moderator Staff Member

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    A complaint should be accompanied with photos that support the claim of damage and your site's responsibility. A keypad with a chunk missing out of its side sounds like there must be very significant damage to the carton. You deserve to have such evidence of handling damage, as shippers do sometimes do shocking things. When they do, we should be made aware. Note that the video was provided after FedEx denied it was responsible for the damage.

    I routinely audit clients whose customer complaint process includes a step for determining validity of the complaint. Not everything deserves a formal CAPA Report. For those in which carriers are, in fact found to be the source of the problem, it is worth "firing" the carrier and trying another service. I had a client that once recognized, based on repeated bad performance and poor customer support, (this was some time ago) not to use a particular carrier in a specific midwest zone. For that zone they used a competitor carrier. So be it. That is analysis of data and supports a sound CAPA in the very difficult subject of supplier control.
     
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  15. normzone

    normzone Well-Known Member

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    Good points made above, let me throw in some miscellaneous -

    I have seen multiple examples of a customer damaging product at the time of receipt, and choosing to send it back and claim it was that way when they opened the box. Difficult to determine fault when this happens, and the company usually eats the cost and provides a new one.

    I handled a piece of ruggedized computer equipment that a major aerospace outfit provided to the military. Their customer claimed the foam lined Pelican case, standing on it's end in the lab, got knocked over and the unit inside received a shock that bent internal sheet metal and shattered circuit boards. That one had to have get dropped out of an airplane on the tarmac at least, but nobody was going to fess up to it.

    I used to work with a Material Manager who in our Material Review Board meeting would periodically advocate returning product to the supplier and asking for rework or replacement on their dime, when we had all just discussed how we broke it. I had issues with that fellow, but he was my bosses golf buddy, and my complaints went unanswered.

    I have received product that would clearly not have passed inspection, but somehow did and made it into a shipment with other parts. Somebody was obviously in a big hurry, and it did not get noticed. Pressure to ship on schedule exacerbates this problem in all industries.

    I have witnessed product packaged in perfect condition, then had to fly to the other end of the state and rework it on the customers site, because it arrived malfunctioning. In that case, the design for a sliding door required adjusting it by bending the sheet metal assembly to an deliberate tightness of fit. Our operating theory became that if the packaging traveled in a truck six hundred miles with the box on end, the repeated bouncing could stress the door in the opposite direction, THROUGH THE HARD PACKAGING INTENDED TO PROTECT IT, and the product would arrive with a door that you could flip open with your pinky. Both door and packaging redesign required.

    We designed some packaging specifically to protect a ruggedized computer display during shipment, to meet a specific MIL STD, with the help of some packaging pros. We gave them a unit to test the new packaging with. The next day they came back and sheepishly asked for a new unit for testing. In the first test of the professionally designed packaging, the ruggedized display was destroyed.

    UPS and FedEx are great test methods - forget the MIL spec shock and vibe - send a sample from one coast to the other and back by common carrier and then evaluate it.

    Photos of shipping damage at receipt are invaluable. But I've seen severely damaged product in boxes that showed no more than expected handling marks.

    Also, sometimes small valuable items buried in protective packaging get thrown out by the person unpacking, without realizing what was in that bundle of bubblewrap. Hence the brightly colored special packaging for some items with cautionary labeling.

    So to sum up, weird things happen in transit and at receipt, and we have to deal with it.
     
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