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How the Right Data Can Cut Product Defects in Half

Apparel production is often prone to defects—particularly in the finishing process—whether it be stains, holes, untrimmed threads or stitching defects. Unfortunately, brands often don’t leverage systems that can gather insight that could determine the root of the problem and help train a factory on corrective actions.

Even if a merchant is collecting high-quality data, it is often done manually and accessed by users across different departments and countries, according to Michael Bland, senior partnership director at supply chain compliance solutions provider QIMA.

This means brands must fully digitize their data collecting and reporting capabilities if they want to mitigate product defects and reduce quality control issues, Bland said in a recent fireside chat with Sourcing Journal.

An internal study from QIMA indicated that new users of the QIMAone quality management platform reduced major product defects by 48 percent since adopting the software, and saved 50 percent of time taken to manage their quality and compliance.

Through QIMAone, brands can schedule local inspectors or have factories conduct self-inspections in an effort to align stakeholders on a common quality framework. That way, organizations can better track and predict potential defects and issues before they become critical challenges.

“If you are collecting data from every production and you see all these defects where they are happening the most, then you can send someone in to train on this specific topic at this specific factory, and it will have the biggest impact in improving product quality,” said Bland.

While it’s easy for everyone to point fingers at outdated technology whenever something in the supply chain goes awry, organizations cannot ignore who is in charge of the strategies, and their impact on them.

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As many as 83 percent of businesses reported that they don’t have the right people in place to properly digitize the supply chain, Bland said, citing a Quality 4.0 survey from Boston Consulting Group and the American Society for Quality (ASQ).

Management teams often refuse to make larger short-term investments in advanced supplier quality control platforms, even if they can realize potential long-term revenue gains and cost reductions. Additionally, on-the-ground employees in factories and distribution centers may be turned off by using a new software solution.

“Even if you have all this data, you can be data rich and information poor,” Bland said. “If you implement a new system, it has to be super intuitive so that the inspectors and the back-office staff like what’s happening.”

Collecting and understanding this data becomes vital for brands as supply chain diversification becomes more of a priority. Bland recommends brands that are starting in new countries to conduct an inspection of every production line for three to six months.

“If you’re collecting that data through an advanced system, then you have three to six months of data and you can view your supplier base and identify which ones are the good ones, which ones are medium and which ones you aren’t sure you want to use anymore,” said Bland.

With this level of sophistication, brands could even incentivize factories with fewer inspections from third parties, or more self-inspections, which are typically less costly for suppliers.

Click the image above to watch the video and learn more about how to better digitize your quality control and supply chain compliance processes.