Engineering organizations have multiple challenges to deliver quality products on time, with quality concerns before, during, and even after production being high. OEMs which cannot achieve targeted shipments, have to face piling work-in-progress inventory, upset customers, and stressed employees.

When a product or process fails to meet the desired specifications, quality management standards call for a nonconformance to be logged, investigated and resolved in a systematic and documented manner. Most Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) attribute shipment delays to production nonconformances. Engineering investigations, specialist approvals, rework, scrap, change documentation and communication – all these come with a cost and quite high at that. Nonconformances also drain the best resources, dent productivity, and consume significant management bandwidth. Therefore, a timely resolution of every instance of nonconformances is critical to product integrity and reputation and accelerates shipment.

Managing nonconformances has always been tough, and is a regular source of negativity and frustration for manufacturers. With the only available solutions urging them to either insource, outsource, or try a combination of both, business leaders have long been seeking tangible answers to such age-old conundrums. From our experience in nonconformance management, we have tried our best to answer a few such questions in this blog.

Can we outsource the process? If yes, how much?

Of course you can. However, the extent of outsourcing is typically based on your organizational need to reserve its own engineers’ bandwidth for core R&D.

Today, we help a world renowned aircraft manufacturer, with the most modern and comprehensive aircraft family manage 100% of the nonconformances (they call it concessions) identified during their wing assembly process. Historically, they have used expensive resources locally to do the same job. Absolutely 100% nonconformances were transitioned into QuEST over 3 years across 3 aircraft programs.

How painful it is to transition the work to a service provider?

Any transition requires significant investment of time and e_orts. Our solution to fully transition the nonconformance workstream is built on a strong foundation of capability, continuous process improvement, metrics driven performance, and joint governance. We at QuEST, are well equipped with dedicated centres to o_er nonconformance as a fully managed service, minimizing your drag to a great extent,and realsing your in house resources to focus on the core work.

Here’s how we went about transitioning work for our aircraft manufacturing client.

First, we established a local o_ce right next to the customer’s manufacturing facility. To ensure minimum drag on customer’s engineers, we engaged experienced technical leadership to approve solutions. Next, we empowered the IT infrastructure to gain secured access to the engineering data, design standards, and tools. This connectivity turned out to be a key component of our e_cient delivery system that enabled us to access the client’s system with minimum latency.

With the ‘As Is’ process mapping and subsequent value stream studies we were also able to eliminate waste and further optimize prevalent processes. Due to the repetitive nature of tasks, knowledge management practices were also established to aid retention and promote re-use. We even developed smart applications that helped this engagement achieve massive productivity gains and resulted in consistent quality output. Our next addition was a state-of-the-art metric management system with electronic displays and other visual management aids for tracking task progress and reporting live status. Most interestingly, our customer exactly knew what we are working on and when we will deliver the solution.

What is the business case impact?

Our customer has:

  • Shipped 10% more products at reduced quality cost
  • Realized 40% cost savings every year

What’ are the key strategies empowering such an impact?

We deliver the nonconformance process with a local-global team. About 80% of the engineering tasks are executed at a low cost location that is thousands of miles away from the manufacturing facility. Additionally, with a capable team of skilled engineers based near site ensure product integrity, our customers have come to cherish this high capability – optimum cost solution that the local-global model delivers. Our local-global model leverages full capability at the low cost location. With a capability audit that finds our gaps, we develop a comprehensive road map to bridge such gaps. A joint action plan with customer ensures we progressively build the capability for today and the future. Most importantly, product familiarity is developed through customer facilitated trainings by experienced structural engineers.

How good and timely are the solutions from such service providers?

We deliver 100% of the tasks on time and our quality returns are less than 4%. Moreover, with the technical autonomy granted to 25 of our most capable engineers, we are also known for delivering low-drag solutions. For our aircraft manufacturing client, the results we delivered had:

  • Reduced time to closure by 60%
  • Contributed to customer process improvement

What will be the burden on our staff?

QuEST’s well designed training program produces ready to deploy engineers in 16 weeks. An intensive development plan has even realized 25 approved signatories. This capability is critical to provide a fully managed service that – picks the nonconformance, reviews the information adequacy, and does a complete engineering assessment along with design & specialist, design solution and solution approval. We have also developed advanced capabilities in niche domains like composite design and assessment of Fatigue & Damage Tolerance (F&DT).

What does your customer think of you?

After successfully transitioning our customer’s process, their Head of Engineering had said “QuEST is doing a very essential work by managing concessions, a heavy responsibility. Not only are you delivering on time, but at the level of quality which we are expecting. I am really happy with the outcome and its momentum.” We were also recognized as the ‘Most Innovative Supplier’ by the same customer.


Today, along with the flexibility to absorb changing priorities, we could proudly say that we have the capability to manage large volumes of nonconformances, and can quickly respond to fluctuating load. Our 24 x 7 support is unique and helps us manage the challenges of nonconformance work stream. Our customer’s engineers who now focus only on product development and product improvement – are smiling. And, when they smile everyone wins.

Written by QuEST Global

on 18 Jun 2019