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The Metrics You Need To Keep Your Contract Manufacturer On Track

The following post is the seventh in a series of guest posts for GrabCAD.

For many entrepreneurs, manufacturing in high volume is a new journey. In turn, how do you know if you’re CM is performing up to snuff with no basis for comparison?

There are many things you could track but some key supplier metrics to watch over time could be:

  • Key subassembly test yield(s)
  • Final functional test yield
  • Final inspection data/trends
  • Ongoing life test results
  • On-time shipment record

Watch for trends, but also watch for stepwise changes. Other things to watch:

  • Customer returns
    • Defective vs. non-defective
    • Specific failure analysis – design issue or production issue?
  • PO lead time
  • Long lead parts – shortening lead times can help with inventory management/production forecast shifts
  • Keep an eye out for component substitutions, vendor changes, and worker changes. All could be approved, but may have unexpected results

In the course of development of any complex project, the number of bugs that will be found will be a large number. If you miss even one significant bug, then you can fail to meet your quality requirements, never mind the potential for causing a safety problem. For this, there is Bug Tracking.

Key points to cover:

  • Test thoroughly. Emphasize functionality and robustness.
  • Track *all” bugs. You can’t afford to let even one slip through.
  • Fix everything. In the vast majority of cases, any test you can afford to do (as constrained by cost and time) will generate a short enough list of bugs that you have to fix all of them in order to meet your targets.

Finally, no matter how well your product is designed and manufactured, no product is perfect and you will have failures before and after the product is in the field. For this reason, you should allocate allowed failure rates to different components and systems within economic and safety constraints (also known as Failure Budgeting). Not only will this help you fairly assess your CM, it also serves as a financial safety cushion otherwise known as peace of mind!

Questions or feedback? Let us know.

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