How Fetim Builds a Single-Source Language to Drive Better Quality

Challenge:
Strengthening and streamlining QC processes and increasing shared understanding of quality.
Solution:
Standardised reporting and QC formats and real-time communication about quality throughout the supply chain and value chain.
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Company overview

Fetim Group was founded in 1919 and is an international trading company focused on construction and home improvement products. The company’s mission is “to help people love where they live, work, and play.” Quality control and assurance are central pillars of Fetim Group, its business approach, and how it achieves its mission.

Headquartered in Amsterdam (The Netherlands), and with over a century of experience, Fetim delivers thousands of safe and sustainable products to its customers in more than forty countries across the globe every day.

Fetim has on-the-ground representatives across the world and collaborates with manufacturers and distributors, many of which are located in Europe and Asia.

Fetim deco on wall

Rethinking quality assurance conversations

Modern markets and production cycles are defined by increasing speed in ‘time to market’. Furthermore, current conditions require flexibility and innovation to solve challenging logistical and supply chain issues and meet deadlines. Keeping up can be a challenge.

Fetim Group has long been at the forefront of quality, sustainability, and quality assurance. About five years ago, the company initiated a digitisation strategy to develop its quality assurance (QA)and quality control (QC) setup.

The goals included a more robust master data approach and developing an application layer for the entire organisation. Simultaneously, Fetim wanted to streamline the QC inspection and reporting process, moving from Excel spreadsheets and digital cameras to a fully integrated solution.

At the time, quality inspectors would have to leave a production site to upload photos and quality checks from a laptop into a database, including numbers on defects and defaults.

“Optimising the time inspectors can spend measuring quality and helping producers improve, while also minimising delays in the conversations around quality, were core goals. Qarma enables us to reach these goals – and more,

- Vincent Meskers Manager Asia Support & Supplier Quality Assurance

Vncent Heskens - Fetim

Structuring the future

Fetim Group quickly identified Qarma as the partner of choice to evolve its quality setup. One of the reasons was Qarma's ability to enable optimal quality improvements in alignment with the company's preferences, goals, and mission. In addition, it helped solve the ever-increasing certification requirements for products it imports into the EU that require amore sustainable approach and offering assurances to its retail customers.

Mood imagery Fetim house decrations

Simultaneously, Qarma's assistance on support issues and collaborative approach to feature development pointed toward a strong partnership. This is indicative of Qarma's process. Customer interactions and relationships are about collaboration. Both parties exchange input and know-how, driving the evolution of quality.

For example, Qarma and Fetim collaborated on implementing a feature that splits or combines quality control on specific orders. The feature is particularly useful for orders shipped in several separate batches or gathered from different producers. For example, 500 units can be split for QC on 250 now and 250 later. As a result, flexibility and overview in dispersed production environments are increased.

“We are continually collaborating on quality control and assurance to this day. This is a testament to the success of Fetim and Qarma’s approach to quality. And we are looking forward to integrating more Qarma features in our setup,”

- Vincent Meskers Manager Asia Support & Supplier Quality Assurance

Building a shared quality language

Dispersed supply chain networks can challenge shared understandings of quality and quality assurance.

Aside from data structure and storage for flexible development and improvements to the QC setup, Fetim Group wanted to optimise QC’s role as a conversation tool.

Quality and the surrounding parameters change over time. As a result, quality manuals quickly become outdated. Using QC tools and checklists instead enables a structured, dispersed, and dynamic way of aligning on quality.

Inspector usng Qarma's QC app on site

Qarma has become the de facto tool for quality conversations in Fetim, including for ongoing quality checks where information is spread in real-time.

When finding and reporting a defect on the factory floor, at least four parties are alerted in real-time – including suppliers, buyers, and core decision-makers. They can then identify next steps, including evaluating the severity of the error and how it can be fixed.

“Conversations on quality happen globally - without delay. This makes it easier to align on quality through a shared language, shared solutions, and incorporate best practices throughout the organisation.”

- Vincent Meskers Manager Asia Support & Supplier Quality Assurance

Results

Through integrating and expanding the use of Qarma, Fetim Group has gained a range of advantages.

One is that defects are detected much earlier in the supply chain, giving more time to react and improve the situation before products are shipped. Furthermore, the shared language on quality and easier distribution of improvements has lowered the number of defects.

This advantage is tied to Qarma’s automated, on-site report creation, which gives inspectors more time to focus on inspections and assist producers with enhancements. As a result, Fetim has saved both time and money.

The next steps for the company include increasing self-inspection among suppliers and further spreading the shared mindset of quality and quality assurance. Other areas include using Qarma’s soon-to-be-released features for compliance and audits.

Fetim Group HQ Amsterdam