We all know it from our private lives: Finally the order is here, for which we waited long and with anticipation. However, the annoyance is all the greater when you realize that the goods do not arrive in the promised quality. And it becomes even more annoying when you have to reckon with high costs and long processing times due to the handling of complaints in a business context. A methodology for the fast, efficient processing of deviations has become established on the market: the 8D report.
Two things are crucial when processing complaints: speed and sustainability. On the one hand, customers must react quickly to defects and initiate a complaint in order to avoid (as mentioned at the beginning) overtime and high costs caused by missing goods. On the other hand, suppliers should not just rectify a faulty delivery of goods for the moment, but rather eliminate the causes of the error as far as possible; after all, they want to ensure that the problem does not recur in the future. The solution: a standard with which both sides, i.e. customer and supplier, can work in a targeted manner to continuously reduce the volume of complaints and improve quality.
The 8D Report
The 8D method has its roots in the US Army, but it became better known as a development of the Ford Motor Company. The 8D report was then standardized primarily by the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA). The methodology demands documentation for the type of complaint, responsibilities and measures for troubleshooting. The 8D methodology is thus intended to ensure that a systematic procedure is followed in the event of complaints and that the causes of faults are thoroughly investigated and permanently eliminated. Here are the eight steps of the 8D-Report in quick succession:
- Establish a team that will solve the problem: put together a team that is familiar with the process and the product. The members analyze the problem, initiate corrective actions and monitor the effectiveness.
- Describe the problem: in this step, the problem is defined as precisely as possible and the origin of the problem is identified.
- Immediate actions: these actions are designed to quickly remedy the problem and limit the damage until a permanent solution is found.
- Find the cause of the problem: various tests and experiments are used to search for the causes of the error and the most likely causes are presented.
- Plan corrective actions: subsequently, it is determined by which means the causes of the problem can be eliminated. Tests are carried out to determine that these measures solve the problem efficiently and that no undesirable side effects occur.
- Implement the corrective actions: after the remedial actions have been successfully implemented, the immediate measures must be discontinued. Example automotive industry: here only process improving measures are considered as permissible shutdown measures.
- Prevent recurrence of errors: in order to ensure that an error of this type does not occur again, preventive measures are introduced which the team then monitors. In the automotive and aerospace industries, manufacturers are required to use the FMEA method to evaluate the risks identified during the cause study.
- Appreciation of the team’s performance: in a final step, the team’s achievements should be recognized and experiences exchanged.
The 8D method continuously supports companies in achieving long-term goals. The quality of the products is ensured, which also minimizes error costs and increases profits. Companies can achieve these business goals precisely with the help of the 8D report by reacting quickly to complaints (immediate action) and eliminating errors at the first occurrence. From the customer’s point of view, the 8D report is also a proven means of further developing their suppliers. Not only because the absence of repetitive errors improves the relationship between customer and supplier, but also because the joint, systematic work with the 8D report allows targeted communication.
Apart from economic benefits, ecological benefits also result from the efficient handling of complaints. Today, the sustainable use of resources is more closely linked to quality than ever before; and those who act in accordance with recognized quality rules and standards act sustainably. A classic win-win-win situation: environmentally conscious companies reduce waste, conserve resources and at the same time have more satisfied customers.