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Coor­di­na­tion meet­ing and ini­tial sam­ple report (ISR):

Avoid­ing misunderstandings

17.08.2022   | Hen­ning Kracht

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When peo­ple com­mu­ni­cate, mis­un­der­stand­ings can occur, even in an indus­tri­al con­text. If sup­pli­er and cus­tomer talk past each oth­er, unnec­es­sary cor­rec­tion loops, delays and ris­ing costs are the result. Pre­vent­ing this is the task of the sales and project depart­ment with the sup­port of qual­i­ty man­age­ment. Impor­tant mea­sures for this pur­pose in the rub­ber and plas­tics sec­tor are the coor­di­na­tion meet­ing and the ini­tial sam­ple report (ISR).

The coor­di­na­tion meeting

Before coop­er­a­tion begins, the cus­tomer and sup­pli­er must ensure that they inter­pret the project require­ments in the same way. Oth­er­wise, the ven­dor may design a solu­tion that does not meet the customer’s qual­i­ty or func­tion­al require­ments. The coor­di­na­tion meet­ing is designed to avoid this hassle.

As a rule, the coor­di­na­tion meet­ing takes place short­ly after the order is received. An ear­li­er point in time is also pos­si­ble, e.g. short­ly after the cus­tomer has con­tact­ed the sup­pli­er for the first time. In this case, the coor­di­na­tion meet­ing is part of the sales consultation.

The focus of the dis­cus­sion depends on the task. If the cus­tomer already has detailed design draw­ings, the coor­di­na­tion meet­ing is more of an exam­i­na­tion of fea­si­bil­i­ty by the sup­pli­er, sup­ple­ment­ed by any sug­ges­tions for optimization.

If, on the oth­er hand, the cus­tomer approach­es a pro­duc­er with a set of require­ments, the coor­di­na­tion meet­ing takes on the char­ac­ter of a con­sul­ta­tion. The sup­pli­er assess­es the require­ments, asks ques­tions and pro­pos­es a suit­able solu­tion to the customer.

In both cas­es, the focus is on devel­op­ing a com­mon objec­tive. The cus­tomer and sup­pli­er agree on what the com­po­nent to be pro­duced should look like and what prop­er­ties it must have. The pur­pose of this is to avoid mis­un­der­stand­ings and unnec­es­sary cor­rec­tion loops. These can be caused by sim­ple com­mu­ni­ca­tion errors (cus­tomer thinks A, sup­pli­er under­stands B) or by incor­rect assump­tions that are not clar­i­fied (cus­tomer thinks A is self-evi­dent and does not need to be list­ed sep­a­rate­ly in the specifications).

The sec­ond vari­ant in par­tic­u­lar occurs rel­a­tive­ly fre­quent­ly in the rub­ber and plas­tics sec­tor. Many com­pa­nies trans­fer their expe­ri­ence with met­als to oth­er mate­ri­als, although this does not cor­re­spond to real­i­ty. For exam­ple, strict tol­er­ances are no prob­lem in the met­al sec­tor, but are hard­ly fea­si­ble with rubber.

Tip: 

The coor­di­na­tion meet­ing ful­fills an impor­tant task, as mis­un­der­stand­ings can be eas­i­ly cor­rect­ed at this ear­ly stage of the pro­duc­tion process. At a lat­er stage, adjust­ments involve con­sid­er­ably more effort and also costs, for exam­ple if the mold has to be adjust­ed after the ini­tial sample. 

The ini­tial sam­ple report (ISR)

Despite inten­sive coor­di­na­tion, mis­un­der­stand­ings are pos­si­ble in devel­op­ment projects, for exam­ple when both sides inter­pret what is said dif­fer­ent­ly. It is there­fore nec­es­sary to cre­ate ini­tial sam­ples, which the cus­tomer and sup­pli­er can use to com­pare their under­stand­ing of the spec­i­fi­ca­tions under pro­duc­tion con­di­tions. This is done in the con­text of ini­tial sam­pling as well as the ini­tial sam­ple report.

Definition: 

Ini­tial sam­ples are parts, prod­ucts and mate­ri­als that are man­u­fac­tured com­plete­ly with series-pro­duc­tion equip­ment under series-pro­duc­tion con­di­tions and test­ed includ­ing all required or agreed prop­er­ties and spec­i­fi­ca­tions. The basis includes approved draw­ings or CAD data sets as well as the required mate­r­i­al.

What the sam­pling process looks like in con­crete terms depends on the customer’s wish­es and require­ments. In any case, it includes a sam­ple of the ordered parts in all agreed vari­ants (depend­ing on the customer’s require­ments, also sev­er­al sam­ples) as well as the fol­low­ing documents:

Oth­er doc­u­ments are pos­si­ble upon agree­ment. The same applies to the option of using tem­plates from the cus­tomer instead of the supplier’s stan­dard doc­u­ments for the ini­tial sam­ple report. 

Con­trol of prod­uct sam­ples in the production

What is the pur­pose of the Ini­tial sam­ple report?

Apart from its pri­ma­ry task of ensur­ing the qual­i­ty of pur­chased parts, prod­ucts and mate­ri­als, the ISR serves three functions:

1. It pro­vides assur­ance for the sup­pli­er. In the ini­tial sam­ple report, the sup­pli­er pro­vides evi­dence that he has cor­rect­ly inter­pret­ed the customer’s spec­i­fi­ca­tions and is capa­ble of pro­duc­ing the part in the desired qual­i­ty. After the ini­tial sam­ple approval, he is no longer exposed to the risk of hav­ing to bear the costs of sub­se­quent prod­uct adaptation.

2. He pro­tects the cus­tomer. With the ini­tial sam­ple, the cus­tomer receives a qual­i­ty tem­plate whose repro­ducibil­i­ty he can always refer to after approval. If the ser­i­al prod­ucts devi­ate sig­nif­i­cant­ly from the ini­tial sam­ple, the cus­tomer has the option of request­ing rectification.

3. He avoids mis­un­der­stand­ings. The ini­tial sam­ple demon­strates the supplier’s under­stand­ing of the require­ments. It forms a basis for dis­cus­sion, on the basis of which mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tions can be iden­ti­fied and elim­i­nat­ed. Once the ini­tial sam­ple report has been approved, none of the par­ties involved can claim that the oth­er side has incor­rect­ly described or under­stood the requirements.

Con­clu­sion

In pro­duc­tion, qual­i­ty man­age­ment cov­ers not only the oper­a­tional lev­el, but also the com­mu­ni­ca­tion between cus­tomer and sup­pli­er. Both sides must ensure that no mis­un­der­stand­ings occur dur­ing the coor­di­na­tion process, which oth­er­wise result in delays and increas­ing costs.

The coor­di­na­tion meet­ing and the ini­tial sam­ple report are impor­tant build­ing blocks in this process. Both serve to bring all par­ties involved to the table and clar­i­fy open points, whether in the con­cep­tu­al con­text or under pro­duc­tion con­di­tions. This exchange of infor­ma­tion is essen­tial to ensure that the prod­uct is ready for series pro­duc­tion. There­fore, man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies should pay the nec­es­sary atten­tion to both the ini­tial con­sul­ta­tion and the sampling.

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Author: Hen­ning Kracht

Hen­ning Kracht is a trained mechan­i­cal engi­neer and head of qual­i­ty man­age­ment at Jäger Gum­mi und Kunststoff.

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