Removing the Raw
Material Quality Barrier
Next to process equipment and technology, there is no other aspect of
manufacturing that has a bigger impact on the quality of ﬁnished product
than raw materials. Again, this concept would seem to be patently obvious
to most of us, and yet many raw material purchases are still based on price
instead of quality. But, the fact is you have to have both to survive. It does
no good to have the ﬁnest raw materials on the planet if the costs are so
high that your product cannot be sold at a proﬁt. There has to be a balance
based on partnership between you and your supplier.
Dr. Deming says that a supplier worthy of being your business partner is
capable of supplying materials that consistently meet speciﬁcations. And, the
supplier can prove it by providing the statistical process control data (just
like yours) for each batch. In addition, your supplier will give you the very
best price possible to ensure that you are competitive and will be able to
stay in business. The supplier does not do this to be altruistic but because it
is how the supplier plans to stay in business. In return, the supplier will not
have to worry about you continuing to look for a cheaper supplier. The sup-
plier will not have to wine you and dine you and hope that it will have your
business next year or next month. You trust each other because you are
partners who are in it for the long haul. If this all sounds like a fairy tale, I
can assure you it is not. This is how the Japanese (who were trained by Dr.
Deming) operate and is one of the reasons they have been able to maintain
their high quality levels year after year. I have seen it work ﬁrsthand.