Strategies for Reducing Defective Products

Rasel T.


Every manufacturing company follows strict procedures in developing its own products. They manufacture products using raw materials, outsourced components, and equipment. There may be different levels of quality for different products. Due to some unavoidable reasons, there may remain a few defective products within a batch of perfectly functioning products. Sometimes when the level of defective products shipped to customers is too high, there can be a severe negative impact on brand image and reputation which can reduce future sales. It is therefore in the best interest of manufacturers to pay close attention to the percentage of defective products that they produce.

There are several ways to reduce defects. You can group these strategies into early stage strategies and late stage strategies. Early stage strategies focus on removing defects before the manufacturing process begins. Late stage strategies generally involve using scientific methods to reduce manufacturing defects during the production process.  

Early Stage Strategies for Reducing Defects:

1. Sometimes product defects are a result of poor product design. Manufacturing engineers can forecast potential areas of concern in the preliminary stages of development if they are involved in the process.  The everyday manufacturing experience that these manufacturing/production engineers have can be invaluable to the development team and save the company a lot of time and money.  Involving an interdisciplinary team of engineers during the product development process is one way to reduce future manufacturing defects.  

2. Building flexibility into the production process can be another way to reduce product defects.  Just like innovation is encouraged during the design of new products, an innovative approach to production can also be helpful.  For example, identifying what parts of production should be outsourced vs. done internally. Sometimes a new manufacturing process is what it takes to uphold product quality and decrease defects.

3. Some major manufacturing companies are using computer modeling or simulations to detect product defects and handle them in the early stages of the production process. Using such technology can offer a real life test of real world production runs and identify problems early.

Late Stage Strategies for Reducing Defects:

1. Manufacturers can take preventative actions such as replacing obsolete equipment and machines that require excessive repairing.  Also making sure that all operating machinery is serviced regularly.

2. Firms should inspect the entire manufacturing process to identify the main cause of defects. They can use ultrasonic technology, particle testing, vibration and resistance testing in order to reduce defects in the production process.

3. Sometimes innovation in product design becomes fruitless when the production line is not checked on regularly. Quality control ensures that products are produced following strict rules and procedures at every stage of production. A quality control team can use Six Sigma methodology to reduce product defects and ensure better quality.

4.  Regular communication between production employees and other product design staff and engineers is always a good idea and helpful in identifying and solving problems quickly.  This teamwork can help bring about greater efficiency and less defects.

The bottom line for reducing defects on the production line is making sure you have a cross disciplinary development team and a well monitored production line.  Quickly identify the root cause of defective products, organize a team around them and develop strategies to fix the issues and improve performance. Six Sigma, ISO 9000, Total Quality Management and the 5 ‘S’ Methodology are some effective tools that manufacturers can use to reduce defects in their production process.