Zero Shades of Gray—Reaching Zero Defects by Externalization of the Quality Philosophy into the Upstream Supply Chain

  • Johanna Ewald
  • Florian SchuppEmail author
Part of the Management for Professionals book series (MANAGPROF)


In the industrial context, the zero-defect philosophy is the basis of all supplier quality improvement actions. To reach this imperative target, a measurement of parts per million is not expedient, instead measuring incidents shall make the supplier evaluation more effective. Supplier development of course is performed before the serial production processes start. Nevertheless, the yearly recalls, for example, in the automobile industry are increasing (Steinkamp and Reed, in Automotive warranty and recall report 2015, Stout Risius, Ross Global Financial Advisory Service 2016), and supplier development should merge with complaint management, whereas each incident is the start for improvement and optimization. The underlying dataset in this chapter has revealed that most complaints originate from wrongly performed production, logistics and packaging processes, human mistakes or defective machines. Developing a supplier by reducing the number of complaints should therefore be done in five steps: Identify critical suppliers, apply expertise in specific production processes, meet with supplier’s top management, improve the supplier’s processes on a technical level and finally create target agreements. To achieve the ultimate target of zero defects, complaint process handling inside the customer should be investigated and optimized together with a cross-functional team. As a result, the efficiency and effectiveness of the complaint processing can be improved by generating a positive effect on supplier quality improvement. Creating full transparency, addressing each and every failure and supported by the technically and cooperative externalization of a firm’s quality philosophy into the upstream supply chain, will be a success to achieve zero defect.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hochschule FurtwangenVillingen-SchwenningenGermany
  2. 2.Jacobs University BremenBremenGermany

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