How to Establish a Superior Quality Management System

In part 2 of Sourceability's Quality Management System Series, we look at the most important steps you should take to implement a superior quality management system into your organization.

In our last article, “Quality Management Systems and The Importance in Electronic Component Distribution,” we detailed the crucial role a quality management system (QMS) plays. The most significant reason a great QMS is instrumental in any semiconductor supply chain is to prevent the infiltration of counterfeit or poor-performing components. Counterfeiters are growing more sophisticated each year. During crises like the 2020-2022 semiconductor shortage, there is a golden opportunity for fraudulent components to slip into the supply chain.  

No matter how secure the supply chain might be.  

For many OEMs, CMs, and EMS providers purchasing from an accredited distributor can remove much of the risk. Unverified distributors are far more likely to distribute counterfeits based on the lack of standardized requirements a quality management system adheres to. Though, just having certification in QMS standards, such as ISO 9001, doesn’t mean counterfeits can’t still slip through. Especially now that counterfeiters are consistently improving their products to try and outsmart even the most intelligent detection methods.

A superior quality management system must make room for improvement so it can continuously evolve. When implementing a QMS, it is vital to consider numerous factors that support upholding the utmost quality. For electronic component distributors, when establishing a new warehouse, building out the best QMS goes beyond buying the latest tools in counterfeit mitigation.  

How to Create and Implement Your QMS

Quality is critical to electronic component distributors. Key factors supporting this goal are cost-effectiveness, delivery efficiency, and employee safety. Creating a system that supports these pillars while upholding the primary purpose of superior quality, takes innovation and regular maintenance. Allowances must be made so a QMS can develop and grow.  

A QMS should satisfy customers' requirements and produce better products with lower costs. In the long term, every warehouse within a distributor’s network should be able to replicate and build a synonymous policy that upholds the primary goal. That goal is defined by an organization’s quality policy.

What is a quality policy? It is a brief statement that aligns an organization’s purpose, mission, and strategic direction. A quality policy usually provides a framework of objectives and a commitment to meet applicable requirements. Distributors that possess ISO 9001 certification often include customer, statutory, or regulatory requirements within that policy. Finally, a quality policy should define how a distributor plans on regularly improving its system over time.  

The importance of a quality policy is often understated. A QMS with a solid quality policy ensures every level of your organization, external and internal, knows your quality objectives and what it does to meet defined requirements. This policy also aids management by giving all levels with an organization a strategic direction that helps a company evolve.  

Basically, everyone knows what they must do to contribute to the further success of the company within their roles.  

Once a quality policy is defined, it is vital to ensure its objectives are communicated via measurable goals. These goals should be designed by utilizing the SMART method. SMART methodology in this area specifically aids in making short-term and long-term goals more achievable with room for growth. SMART is defined as:  

S: Specific - Your objective should be on a focused process and/or outcome.
M: Measurable - Objectives must add value in a way that can be collected and measured over time.
A: Attainable - The objective must be reachable for your company.  
R: Relevant - Objectives should be connected to each job within your company’s distribution process.
T: Timing - Each objective must have specified results defined when achieved.  

While defining objectives for your quality policy, a vital process to establish is how to accurately map and document your key production processes. Numerous certification standards often make this mandatory, including ISO 9001, ISO 13485, and IATF 16949. During this documentation phase it is pertinent to mark which process and sequences are critical to quality (CTQ). Furthermore, it is necessary to arrange for the documentation of each process specified by the rules in ISO 9001. This refers to the quality manual, SOPs, WIs, Checklists, Records, and other necessary data.  

Once objectives are defined, documentation processes are established, and procedures are implemented, a distributor should delegate a team to oversee and uphold the QMS. This team should be there from beginning to end, although the ending is truly a misnomer. A QMS doesn’t have a stereotypical “end,” as the team administering the system should take an active role in its continual improvement.  

This team mustn’t be solely comprised of members from quality management departments. A good QMS team should be composed of staff that serve various functions within an organization as it creates better visibility into how a QMS can impact workflow. A diverse team will aid the organization in defining and implementing the necessary training for internal groups to uphold quality policies. Members can point out weak spots or areas that need further development through QMS application.

This is crucial to any superior QMS as continuous improvement originates through an internal assessment of those working with the process. During the integration process, it’s key for staff to collect feedback, both positive and negative. This will help iron out areas that need further development, making future deployments of this system at warehouse expansions easier.

By collecting this data, organizations can prioritize improvements, choose opportunities that make significant differences, and reinforce their company’s commitment to quality through outstanding results.  

Once a quality management system is implemented, an organization’s staff can follow a standard rule for achieving and upholding its quality policy. These are usually updated and improved over time as these processes are continuously refined by introducing new methods and rising threats.  

Sourceability’s Global Warehouse Network

Quality is Sourceability’s utmost priority. As a leading electronic component distributor operating one of the largest global marketplaces for components, Sourcengine, ISO 9001 kicks off our QMS journey.  

Founded by industry veterans, Sourceability ensures its quality management system is built on the knowledge from these skilled experts. Our team leaders work to define straightforward training programs to educate our staff to continuously pursue the highest level of quality. We go the extra mile to further train our leaders in soft skill areas to improve their situational awareness, time management, and how to better support their team’s development.  

Our core goal is to protect our clients from counterfeits. Counterfeit products are becoming more sophisticated, and a good QMS with proper documentation prevents them from slipping through. The added benefit is Sourceability’s high-resolution microscopes and X-ray equipment to spot the fakes before they reach our clients. Proper documentation of these processes will make it easier to alert international bodies, such as the ERAI, of where possible counterfeits might have originated.  

Before any supplier can sell on Sourcengine, they are vetted. This additional step ensures we lower the risk of counterfeits arriving at our warehouse before they can be uncovered through our rigorous testing processes. We will continue to improve our quality management system and further define our quality policy going forward.

If you have a question about our quality management system and how we help others, you can chat with some of our experts today. If you are ready to buy or need help sourcing stock, send our staff at Sourcengine an RFQ.  

Join us next month for part three of Sourceability’s Quality Management System Deep Dive.

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