Supplier Quality Management

A systematic way to ease and validate supplier quality.


A Robust, Comprehensive Approach to Supplier Quality Management on an Enterprise Scale

Supply chains for complex manufacturers are extensive and difficult to manage. To optimize performance, manufacturers must carefully track how each supplier is contributing to their enterprise. Are suppliers causing problems or enabling success? Solumina Supplier Quality Management software can determine the answer by monitoring and responding to changes in supplier performance on an enterprise scale.

Gains Driven by Solumina SQM

  • Improved communication with suppliers
  • Continuous improvement in supplier performance
  • Ability to measure and compare supplier performance
  • Continuous improvement in design and production
  • Healthy competition among suppliers through accountability

Solumina SQM by iBase-t

Get visibility and control of supplier products before they reach your shop floor.

Introduction to SQM

What Is Supplier Quality Management?

Supplier quality management is the measure of a supplier’s ability to deliver their goods or services. It is used to audit supply chain quality and identify the root cause of any issues.

For complex discrete manufacturers, suppliers are so involved in production that they are essentially part of the manufacturing enterprise. SQM software provides the level of visibility and communication needed for suppliers to contribute their specific knowledge in the design process, creating a proactive, collaborative approach to the most consistent delivery of high-quality finished goods.

Supplier management is an ongoing process that requires continuous optimization to maintain top performance. The benefits are fully realized once companies have built a relationship of shared expertise and resources. Beyond just components, suppliers can also provide specialized design and development services.

SQM Is More Than Just Quality Inspections

SQM software provides centralized communication with suppliers. It creates a framework for collaborative supplier quality and eliminates the problems caused by email and paper-based communication. A well-designed SQM solution delivers more than on-spec parts. It can reduce the frequency of inspections, which saves time and money while yielding higher productivity. As suppliers show sustained performance and reliability, SQM relaxes the inspection requirements.


What Are the Key Features of Solumina SQM?

Solumina SQM by iBase-t is a best-in-class supplier inspection planning and execution system.

Solumina SQM provides a robust, comprehensive approach to Supplier Quality Management on an enterprise scale. It enables visibility and control of your purchased products before they even hit your shop floor – so you can decrease cycle times while increasing productivity, traceability, and quality.

Additional key features of Solumina SQM include:


Solumina SQM employs dynamic state switching for inspections. Based on real-time supplier KPIs, it scales testing frequency according to supplier performance. As a supplier’s quality performance improves, lot sizes lower and quality procedures become less stringent. If performance declines, SQM tightens inspection procedures and increase lot sizes. This ensures adequate testing to maintain quality without extraneous QA. It also introduces competition into the market for an improved value chain.


Solumina SQM can improve visibility into compliance by providing the capability to query real-time supplier status, constraints, and history records for all related processes and activities. This includes processes such as online verifications and characteristic data collection for inspection orders. SQM is a key tool for dealing with modern compliance regulations.

Non-Conforming Material Report (NCMR)

NCMRs are used to document material issues so that the party responsible for the material disposition is notified of the problem. Users can then rework, repair, or scrap the materials as needed. With Solumina SQM, manufacturers can access any supplier’s history of NCMRs and use that information to assess overall supplier quality.

Corrective and Preventive Actions (CAPA)

Once a material issue has been identified, the next step is Corrective and Preventive Actions (CAPA). The Solumina closed-loop CAPA process helps reduce issues by more accurately isolating the root cause and providing the integration needed for a cross-functional team to resolve them. For manufacturers required by the FDA to document all CAPA processes, Solumina SQM creates historical records for every CAPA process that occurs during production.

Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP)

APQP helps manufacturers keep up with today’s stringent quality standards by providing a framework for focusing on product quality early in the design process. For any manufacturer with an Industry 4.0 initiative, APQP is a key source of data. It identifies potential areas of failure and uses that information to plan quality to support any weaknesses. APQP empowers the manufacturer to implement successful new product introductions and take a proactive approach to quality.

Production Part Approval Process (PPAP)

PPAP ensures part compliance and associated changes throughout the value chain. It first focuses on the verification of the design and production processes used to produce the part. It then begins a trial run where the production control plan is released and monitored. Final quality process control plans are then implemented, and production can commence. Together, APQP and PPAP create a proactive approach to product quality by bringing it into the initial design process.

Measurement System Analysis (MSA)

MSA is a key tool to analyze variations in inspections, measurement, and test equipment. Solumina SQM software ensures that the variation in inspections is minimal. During the measuring phase, it collects data accurately, using the same measurements to provide contextualized data. Accurate measurement data is a top priority because it will influence decisions regarding the business or production process. Solumina SQM ensures that all measurement systems are accurate and consistent.

Statistical Process Control (SPC)

SPC can be used to monitor internal processes and eliminate any issues. It provides important statistical information to be used during process improvements. Solumina SQM employs contextualized data collection to control and optimize any business process using statistical analysis.

Extending Quality Throughout Your Value Chain

Because of its far-reaching impacts, SQM should be a key component of any Quality, Six Sigma, or Industry 4.0 initiative and should be a central consideration as enterprises look to digitally transform their operations. Solumina SQM extends quality control throughout the value chain, improving not only quality, but all aspects of operations from production efficiency to system integration, customer satisfaction, and overall profitability.

Featured Resource

“SQM provides a complete paperless system for defining, managing, communicating and verifying product specifications and requirements with suppliers.”

Solumina SQM Brochure

Solumina Supplier Quality Management (SQM) by iBase-t is an integrated, dynamic system that helps you efficiently define, communicate, manage, and verify product requirements with your suppliers.


Benefits of Solumina SQM

By closing the loop on supplier quality management, manufacturers can expect to see many positive results in areas such as:

  • Reduced manual management tasks
  • Improved component parts quality
  • Minimized inventory in receiving inspection
  • Lower sourcing and warranty administrative costs
  • Supplier ownership of process strengths and weaknesses
  • Minimized need for third-party contract inspection
  • Reduced inspection and audit oversight cost
  • Quicker issue disposition and corrective action

Leverage Closed-loop Quality Management

Closed-loop quality management means providing a centralized process for corrective and preventive action (CAPA) for non-conformances, which avoids communication issues that can arise from siloed departments. Without centralized communication between departments, time can end up being wasted on unnecessary quality inspection processes.

Require Closed-loop Supplier Management

Closed-loop supplier quality management ensures that suppliers have robust quality assurance processes in place and that the performance is visible. In turn, this drives higher supplier quality performance than can be achieved by testing alone. Fewer issues will arise during manufacturing, and you can scale down the number of inspections needed to maintain a high rate of quality.

Choosing a Supplier

How to Choose a Supplier in Complex Manufacturing

Supply chains are the lifeblood of any complex, highly engineered production process.

The more agile and flexible the supply chain, the greater the resilience and strength of the manufacturer. Solumina SQM offers a competitive advantage for manufacturers tasked with producing highly engineered products where they must assure the quality of their entire supply chain.

The quality standards in today’s increasingly networked and global marketplace demand strict compliance and lowered costs. Manufacturers must have complete faith in their suppliers. No two suppliers are the same, and every manufacturer has unique needs for their product and circumstances. The following are some general steps to a successful supplier relationship:

Lay Out Your Supplier Strategy

When choosing a supplier, there is more to consider than just cost. Factors like compliance, on-time delivery, and customer service contribute to the overall value. The supplier that is cheaper upfront might be more expensive in the long run, if the overall value is low. Manufacturers should determine factors like a supplier’s reliability and quality consistency, in addition to any specific factors for their unique situation.

Compare The Suppliers

Once you have laid out your supplier strategy, you can compare quotations and samples from suppliers. It is just as important to compare quality samples as it is to compare price quotes. Lower prices might denote lower-quality products, which will cost more money in the long run than it saves in the short term.

Look For Strong Partners

Suppliers are an extension of your enterprise and value chain. Besides strong quality and on-time delivery, suppliers need to be communicative and accessible. Take the time to find supply chain partners that you can build a lasting business relationship with.

Make Backup Plans

It’s important to find the perfect supplier, but it’s also important to have alternatives ready. Especially during periods like the coronavirus pandemic, volatility can cause suppliers to suddenly shut down or run out of materials.

Understand Supplier Quality Certifications

In addition to the above general tips, there are some specific quality certifications that manufacturers should seek from their suppliers. The ASQ provides a series of certifications that range from specialized, highly experienced quality professionals to part-time beginner quality analysts.
Measuring Supplier Quality

How To Measure Supplier Quality In Complex Discrete Manufacturing

One of the main benefits of Solumina SQM is the ability to measure the quality of your suppliers accurately and quickly.

Most manufacturers use their own unique KPIs, but there are some overarching aspects of supplier quality that are always important to measure. The traditional approach to supplier quality is to inspect incoming items to ensure they meet purchase specifications. The traditional approach to supplier quality is to inspect incoming items to ensure they meet purchase specifications.

Solumina SQM takes a proactive role in ensuring that supplier materials and services meet the manufacturer’s quality expectations. It incorporates all the processes associated with supplier delivery, including manufacturing processes, on-time delivery, and proper packaging. 

Here are some of the ways Solumina SQM measures quality in complex discrete manufacturing:

Align Business Goals With Your Suppliers

Having a clear performance goal for your own business makes it easier to apply the same logic to business partners. One of the best ways to achieve success with continuous improvement is to choose suppliers that are aligned in using methodologies such as Six Sigma or lean manufacturing. Solumina SQM provides a systematic approach to ensuring supplier alignment.

Enact A Real-Time Data Collection System

Solumina SQM allows paperless tracking of supplier performance. Instead of waiting for paper questionnaires or site visits, manufacturers can access real-time information on defective parts, late deliveries, or any other issue impacting supplier performance. They can also track positive results, like on-time deliveries and consistent quality performance. With all this data easily accessible, manufacturers can optimize the group of suppliers they work with.

Design A Performance Assessment System Specific To Your Business

In complex manufacturing, no two business processes are the same. That means it is important to layout measurement strategies using an in-depth knowledge of the specific situation. Correctly measuring performance in complex manufacturing is not one-size-fits-all.

Strengthen The Communication And Information Flow

Supplier performance improvement is a two-way operation. Manufacturers need to be clear and specific about their expectations, and suppliers need to give the information needed to measure their performance. With Solumina SQM, the real-time feedback flow and streamlined communications speed up the process of sharing information between manufacturer and supplier.
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Additional Resources on SQM for Complex Manufacturing

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