With all the emphasis on measurement in the ISO9001 standard it is sometimes easy to overlook the importance of some day-to-day processes that are just as important but not as glamorous. For example, what does handling, packaging, shipping, delivery mean in your business? It could mean delivery to a specific site, or conclusion of system installation, or when the product leaves your warehouse or site, or when a ship arrives to discharge cargo at a port thousands of miles from your site. It pays to consider carefully where the company’s responsibility ceases. It is too late when the signatures are dry on the contract.
Other questions come to mind: which carriers do you use? Are they available at all hours of the day and night, should you need that kind of service? Are they on the Approved Suppliers List? Are you responsible for delivery to a site other than that of your customer? Who has authority in your company for releasing the product or service to the customer? Which of your customers’ representatives has the authority to accept delivery of a product or service from you?
What does “preservation” imply for your business? For international quality standards it means protecting items from deterioration; for example, by shrink wrapping, other special packaging, or surface treatments.
Is your storage adequate? It’s too late to assess space when new equipment arrives and won’t fit the space you have allocated. Extra storage could be needed such as racks, shelves, cupboards, along with packaging materials for production equipment and tooling. I always include this in contract review and RFQs as it might mean extra costs. Bear in mind standards such AS9116 (Notice of Change) issued last October which requires design changes to be reported to the customer unless otherwise specified in the contract. This might seem a far cry from what happens in the storage area but could affect storage if larger parts are introduced into the production process.
Extra storage space might be easy to estimate, but what about other conditions such as temperature and humidity for critical parts, including parts for which the customer might have set the storage and preservation criteria? You might need something as simple as a protective blind to protect items from excessive sun. This problem came up in one of my contracts where fabric was glued and the hot sun through a window altered the consistency of the glue as it was being used. The fabric was to be used as part of a life raft. (Consider the implications of that kind of failure).
As far as the quality system is concerned the knee bone is definitely connected to the thigh bone; all elements are connected. When considering risk assessment and management It pays to”lend the eye a terrible aspect” (as Skakespeare said). Be conscientious and give all elements the same level of respect.