Supply Chain Optimization With SAP Quality Management

Quality Management is an integral part of supply chain and SAP

QA Manager using SAP quality management software in a meeting
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Quality Management (QM) is an integral part of the supply chain and logistics functions and within the SAP system. The SAP system is a software built by German-based SAP-SE to streamline several key functions of business organizations.

It is fully integrated with complementary components including:

  • Materials Management (MM)
  • Plant Maintenance (PM)
  • Production Planning (PP) 

Quality management is important to the warehouse, inspecting incoming material as it arrives at the facility and for manufacturing operations, where the quality of in-process items are checked during the manufacturing process and finished goods are inspected before they reach the warehouse.

Quality Management Components

The QM module covers three distinct areas:

  1. Planning
  2. Notifications
  3. Inspections

The quality planning function allows your quality department to plan inspections for goods receipts from vendors and production, work in process, and stock transfers. A quality notification can be used to request action to be taken by the quality department.

This may be to review an internal problem, an issue with items from a vendor or a ​customer complaint. The quality inspection is the physical inspection using specifications defined in quality planning.

SAP Supply Chain Planning

In SAP the quality inspection plans define how an item is to be inspected. The plan also establishes how the inspection is to take place, the item characteristics to be inspected and all the required test equipment that is needed for the inspection.

The inspection plan is an important part of the QM planning process. The plan defines which characteristics of the item are to be inspected in each operation and what kind of test equipment is required for the inspection.

Supply Chain Notifications

The quality notification records a problem that is either identified by a customer against a product that is produced by your company or by your company against the product of a vendor.

A notification can also be raised internally to report a quality issue that has arisen on the production line or somewhere at the facility. You can assign a quality notification to an existing QM order to create a new order for the specific notification.

Quality Inspections

A quality inspection occurs when someone in the quality department inspects an item as determined by the inspection planning functionality.

An inspection is based on one or more inspection lots, where a lot is a request to inspect a specific item. Inspection lots can be created manually by a user or automatically by the SAP system. There are a number of events that can trigger an automatic inspection lot.

Most inspection lots are automatically triggered by a movement of materials, such as a goods receipt or a goods issue. But other events like the creation or release of a production order, the creation of deliveries, or a transfer of stock in the warehouse.

The inspection lot functionality allows inspection of a product in the warehouse. The product can be a finished product, a raw material, or a piece of equipment that is used in the facility. When an inspection is performed, the results of the inspection should be recorded for each of the inspection characteristics.

The inspection lot can be accepted as being within tolerance or can be rejected if the inspection finds that the results do not reach the prescribed specification for a certain characteristic.

When the inspection is complete for the inspection lot, a usage decision can be made as to whether the material can be accepted or rejected. After the quality department has made a usage decision the inspection is technically closed.

SAP Supply Chain Reporting

SAP provides a number of reports for the quality management team. The material defects report can show the number of times an item has been in a defect status. The vendor defect report shows the frequency of failed material by a vendor.

By examining inspection lots for goods receipts, a quality department can highlight vendors who are supplying goods that frequently fail inspection. The customer defect report shows the defects that were found on inspections for outbound deliveries.

This is important as it can help get defects resolved which will improve customer satisfaction and customer service.

Updated by Gary W. Marion