Whether you’re manufacturing goods for sale to another business or directly to the public, you know how hard it can be to come back from one failed product in the field. To be sure that the batches of product you’re sending out are holding up and serving well, making sure that your quality control team is fully involved in any failed product is key.
Study the Basics: Raw Goods
If you’ve had a product up and running for a while and suddenly start hearing about failures, go back to the purchase of your raw goods. For example, if you produce a custom skincare product but start to see changes in color, or if ingredients that used to stay milled suddenly fall out of suspension, a supplier of your base product may have changed their formulation.
Review Material Safety Data Sheets for any changes in raw goods. If those haven’t changed, take a look at your mixing conditions, such as temperature and humidity. Big changes in batch output can be caused by simple changes in production conditions.
Study the Process: Tooling
If you start to have production fails in the facility, take a look at any changes in tooling. For example, the process of rotational molding is quite reliable once the tools are proofed and the raw product is confirmed. However, maneuvering hot plastic through a form can create challenges, and simple changes to tooling can alter how the plastic product moves through the tool.
Once a design is chosen, the tool is proofed and the best raw good is determined, there are now simple changes. One small tool adjustment can shut down a production run, so be prepared to proof the tool again.
Review the Testing Process: Audits of QC
No matter how good your QC people are, having an outsider come in and “check the checkers” is a wonderful decision to make for the future of your business. First of all, you may find that your QC team is going above and beyond, which could allow you to sell at a higher grade, sell to a more restrictive industry, or raise your prices.
You can also find out if your QC team is working with the most effective tools. A plastics inspector will need to be able to measure product thickness across a sizable span. Do you have the best tools for that, or do you need to make an investment that will allow your QC team to function with even more accuracy? Investing in quality control is an investment in your product reliability and your reputation.
Survey the Customer: Tracking Product in the World
For the custom beauty manufacturer, put together a survey process that will allow you to track happy customers, check back in with unhappy customers, and confirm that your product holds up over time. If you tend to have sales at certain points of the year, your customers may stock up for several months. Is the six-month-old product still effective? With an email survey, you may not hear back on the positive results, but you will likely hear back from the unhappy clients.
You may need to hire a freelance social media manager or put someone in your office to work tracking the email responses. A simple graph allowing you to see survey results, including
- date of purchase
- date of survey
- date of response
- result of response
- response of your company
- return of customer
will tell you a lot about how your product holds up over time.
Shoppers are looking for relationships with products and manufacturers they can trust. With excellent QC measures in place and a simple way to track client response, you can more easily follow how your clients feel about working with your company in the future.