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16 FLEX007 MAGAZINE I APRIL 2018 the total, and is used on products that have a long history of zero defects. The product may have started out with a 100% inspection and proved over time that the manufacturing process was solid enough that it didn't output any rejects. Another example of when the sampling practice may be used is on very high volumes where 100% inspection would prove too costly. In either case, there are times when a part could be shipped with a defect. In the case of sampling, it's obvi - ous that a defect could be shipped because not all of the product is inspected at the final stage. With the 100% inspection process one would think that nothing shipped would have a defect. However, it's understandable that an inspector could mistakenly place a rejected circuit in the approved container for shipment to the customer, or simply miss a defect. No matter the cause, any materials that reach the customer without meeting all specifications should be addressed and recti - fied expediently. What is to be done? A typical process for addressing a customer request is to issue a returned material authori- zation (RMA) and ask them to send the prod- uct back for re-inspection and confirmation. It is best to trust your customer and treat them with utmost respect. At this time more than any other they count on you to help resolve a problem. Communications should be swift and thorough to assure your customer that you are their partner when things go wrong No matter the cause, any materials that reach the customer without meeting all specifications should be addressed and rectified expediently. as well as when they are going smoothly. Once the returned material has arrived, it should be confirmed and, if necessary, the entire shipment should be inspected to seg - regate all products that are suspect. It is easy at this point to cut corners because of the dis- ruption it causes. You can fault the custom- er's employees for handling improperly. You can state defiantly that all products meet the requirements that we have on file and blame poor documentation. Or you can take a deep breath and handle the issue for the customer the same way you would handle the issue if it were yours. After all, they trust you enough to build their precious products. Assistance when things are not quite right should be the least they can expect. Root Cause Analysis With the material in hand and the non-com- pliance recognized and accepted, it's time to find out what happened. Or in the case of a recurring product, what has changed. The qual- ity team is the first to see the returned prod- ucts. But after the reject is identified they will need to recruit assistance and expertise from the manufacturing team. An inspector may be very good at identifying the non-compliance, but it will ultimately take collaboration with the team that builds the product to identify the root cause. This is a very important step and may take a lot of time and patience. There are many times when the first cause identified is not the culprit. Each theory should be identi- fied and tested to verify the cause. It is impera- tive to find the root cause of the defect and test solutions until the best one is agreed upon. As you may guess from the disruption men- tioned earlier, this is not always an easy pro- cess. The manufacturing team must interrupt their ongoing schedule to help the quality team, who has also interrupted their schedule to find definitively both the root cause and the corrective action taken to resolve it. Document and Verify Now that all the hard work has been done to identify the cause and solution, it is time to document our findings. This is done formally

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