Quality defects and nonconformances are a familiar challenge for manufacturers in just about every industry. When it comes down to it, no matter how many quality control measures a business puts in place, it’s nearly impossible to eliminate 100% of quality-related issues that arise as part of their production process.

These issues – whether material or process-oriented – lead to the production or accumulation of nonconforming parts. As a result, manufacturers will often find themselves wasting valuable time and space sorting through and storing the various nonconformances.

Whether the nonconformance comes as a result of the manufacturer or the original material supplier, these parts, components, and materials will likely amount to waste for the business if not dealt with appropriately. One of the best ways manufacturers deal with such situations is via a Material Review Board (MRB).

Scroll on to learn more about the Material Review Board and its role in dealing with defective and nonconforming materials.

What is a Material Review Board?

A Material Review Board is a group of various subject matter experts within a manufacturing business tasked with determining the fate of defective items and nonconforming materials in their facilities.

The board reviews the various defective nonconforming materials to determine the root cause of the deviation from quality expectations. Additionally, the board members deliberate and find solutions for the defective components through any number of different types of failure analyses.

The result is a functional system that incorporates quality in all production steps, ensuring the business provides high-quality products to its customers.

The board’s role typically falls within the quality and continuous improvement departments of the business. However, most manufacturers institute comprehensive Material Review Boards sourcing subject matter experts from various divisions and departments to capture multiple different perspectives.

Department representatives involved in the failure analysis efforts stem from:

Quality Assurance: The quality assurance and control department usually heads this undertaking, mainly due to its role of ensuring the quality of the materials coming into the facility and the products leaving the facility.

Engineering: Product engineers have more intimate and technical knowledge about the production processes in question. This allows them to identify defects during their failure analysis efforts.

For example, engineers look out for over-specifications, instances when part tolerances are narrower than the design calls for. Additionally, they are able to identify specific actions and processes that may result in negative quality consequences.

Procurement: Production plants often receive defective or non-standard raw materials. Procurement officers should be on hand to ensure that their purchases conform to the desired manufacturing expectations.

Production: Production representatives advise the MRB on the manufacturability of the design and materials required. This individual or group is responsible for ensuring that the designs can be produced at an expanded scale.

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The Material Review Board process

The cross-departmental Material Review Board frequently meets to carry out their failure analysis efforts. Depending on the size of the manufacturing operation and the number of defective parts, this board can meet daily, weekly, or monthly.

But before these representatives convene, the below process plays out:

  1. First, workers or supervisors discover a potential defect or nonconforming part, documenting and detailing the issue in a nonconformance report (NCR).

  2. The identified material is clearly marked and segregated for board inspection.

  3. The nonconformance report is forwarded to the Material Review Board chairman.

  4. The board convenes a meeting. The members examine the part or parts, discussing causes and potential solutions. The different department-specific points of view make for comprehensive failure analysis.

  5. The board determines the best course of action, a disposition that solves the issue. Then, all members sign off on the agreed decision, providing clarity and accountability to the process.

The different MRB disposition categories for dealing with nonconformities

The Material Review Board deals with nonconforming materials and defective parts in various ways.

These include:

Use-as-is: If the board finds that the nonconformity doesn’t affect the product’s form, fit, or function, it can recommend the part for production.

Rework and Repair: Analysis might show that the part doesn’t meet the requirements in the product design. However, sometimes the Board finds that the item can be reworked to fit the original dimensions.

The board issues this disposition if rework and repair costs don’t set the production process back.

Redesign the product: The board sometimes suggests a slight product redesign to fit the nonconforming item. This is especially the case when a minor defect won’t affect the final product function.

Return to vendor: If the parts have significant defects affecting the product form, fit, or function, the Material Review Board can recommend returning the parts to the vendor. The supplier representative communicates to the vendor, detailing the defects and seeking reassurance on part production process improvements.

Scrap: If the financial and time loss don’t justify rework or return to the vendor, the defective parts are scrapped. Detailed and critical quality analysis should inform future supplier decisions to eliminate defects in raw materials and the subsequent production process.

Depending on the findings of the MRB, quality teams may decide to develop and implement a comprehensive Quality Assurance Plan to outline specific quality standards that a part or product should adhere to, as well as optimize processes to address the root cause(s) of quality defects in the plant.

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Simplifying quality efforts with Tulip

When it comes to managing your quality management efforts, the biggest contributing factor is the data and information you have surrounding quality defects.

In order to capture this data more effectively, you need a system that operators can easily leverage to provide real-time, objective feedback as they navigate their day-to-day work.

By integrating in-line quality checks with digital work instructions, for example, operators are able to inspect, identify, and report quality defects in real-time, providing the MRB team with the information they need to understand which processes and operators are most responsible for the nonconformances and defects they’re analyzing.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Tulip can help streamline your quality management practices, reach out to a member of our team today!

Streamline your quality management efforts With Tulip

Learn how leading manufacturers are using Tulip to capture real-time data, track production, and improve quality across their operations.

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