Scrap and Defects and Rework – Oh, My!

March 22, 2021
9 min read

When we talk to our manufacturing clients about their biggest issues, nearly all of them mention one or more of the big three: scrap, defects, and rework (oh, my!). The crew of the Wizard of Oz (remember the “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” song from the movie?) were afraid because they didn’t know what to expect. InfinityQS quality management software is designed to help manufacturers know exactly what to expect…so there are no monsters.

It’s so true that scrap, defects, and rework are the bane of modern manufacturing. Because if you don’t control your processes, then these problems cost you money and headaches. Often, despite your best efforts, sub-par products eventually get into the hands of your customers. One caveat: I think that I would add recalls to that list, just because they are so destructive and so feared.

These “perennial thorns in the side” of manufacturers are, of course, the result of not making quality a priority at your company. With so many competitors in every market segment, one of the greatest differentiators is quality. In any organization, you’ve got to deploy quality in a standardized fashion and ensure that metrics are being met and goals are being achieved. Simply put, you’ve got to stay on top of quality and ensure maximum quality levels 24×7.

That’s why InfinityQS quality management software systems are vital to today’s manufacturers. The stakes are high, but the cost of the solution to scrap, defects, and rework (and recalls) doesn’t have to be.

Make Quality a Priority


Our COO, Doug Fair, says in his blog, “Is Quality “Mission Critical” at Your Organization?” that “Companies that make quality a priority in their manufacturing create an enormous advantage in the marketplace. Companies that make quality a priority have decreased operating costs, allowing them to either reduce prices to become more competitive, or keep pricing unchanged and reap the extra profit. When quality is mission critical, companies experience fewer failures, fewer warranty claims, increased customer loyalty…and increased sales.” And I would add to that: when companies make quality a priority, they can easily cut down on scrap, defects, rework, and (yes) recalls.

What I’m getting at, in essence, is the ability to make quality work for you. Using statistical process control, via a quality management software system (like the ones we provide at InfinityQS), you have the best chance of keeping manufacturing’s demons at bay.

Controlling Processes

A quality management solution can reduce waste by helping your operations team spot critical out-of-spec dimensions. The earlier you catch such issues, the fewer wasted materials or recalled products you’ll need to deal with. InfinityQS quality management solutions provide the tools you need to catch process problems—fast.

Let’s face it: you can’t stop waste if you can’t find it. Too many companies use guesswork to figure out why product isn’t up to snuff. But with Enact®, the InfinityQS cloud-based quality management system (what we call our quality intelligence platform), you can pinpoint how to reduce waste in manufacturing and significantly reduce costs throughout your operations.


Fighting waste is a never-ending battle. Enact gives you the power to roll up aggregated and historical data across processes, products, lines, and even sites—which in turn gives you the ability to track trends and variations that lead to waste, even for processes and products that are within spec. As a result, InfinityQS customers have saved many millions of dollars by curbing waste.

As my colleague, Steve Wise, InfinityQS VP of Statistical Methods, stated in his Manufacturing Challenges blog series: “Generally speaking, management doesn’t really care about waste; what they care about is profit. Well, to be fair, they do care; but they don’t want to deal with it if they don’t have to. As long as they’re making money, they just don’t have time to devote to worrying about waste. And so, these ‘hidden factories’ continue to exist.”

The Hidden Factory

The “hidden factory” consists of the miasma of “workarounds” an organization creates—little one-off fixes (usually extra steps, or additional pieces that don’t really belong in a product) that solve this problem or that problem without correcting the real issues that operators find with processes and manufacturing lines.


“But in today’s marketplace—highly competitive, dwindling profit margins, and the high price for failure—every organization needs to take a good, hard look at waste. They need to expose the hidden factory and take care of their processes. It’s the low-hanging fruit of manufacturing quality improvement.”

Beyond Inspections

When you test quality only at the finished product or final production stage, you can find yourself with staggering amounts of waste and scrap, in ruined product or rework time. Enact enables automatic notifications and staggered quality checks. That way, operators and quality personnel know immediately if a process, machine, or product falls out of spec—and can resolve the problem before it causes damage.


Enact enables a “big picture” view of whether processes are running smoothly or need attention. When you see trouble, it’s easy to drill down into the details of real-time alerts and operations status, for better problem-solving and a faster resolution.

The main goal for inspections and samples, or inspection plans based on samples, is capturing defects before they get out the door—essentially adding bars to the huge iron doors that keep such things locked away.

So, where InfinityQS (and our quality management solutions) comes into play in all this is enabling manufacturers to look “upstream” for the root causes of these problems and catching (and getting rid of) them before they rear their ugly heads.

Working Upstream

If you can’t look upstream and figure out where things are going wrong, chances are you end up waiting until even more “value-add” is put into the product. And then, only at the last minute before you ship it out to the customer, do you throw it away or pull it from your stock. That is expensive, to say the least.


On the other hand, when you do manage to catch something upstream, it’s just one component you have to throw away—rather than the whole unit. But you need to know what to do when you find that defective component upstream.

Using statistical methods, which are the core of our quality management software products, will help you point to where the problem is (the root cause) and help you determine what you can do about it. This is the strength of statistical process control. It’s what we do at InfinityQS.

Dirty Laundry

You don’t want any defects or recalls. Period. That’s your dirty laundry. If you have defects, then you’re fighting problems within your walls, and you don’t want those escaping—at all costs.

In another blog in Steve Wise’s series, he quotes a manufacturing “rule of thumb”:
“As painful as it might be to deal with the costs associated with the waste and defects we find, and all the problems and delays that those things cause, as long as there’s enough profit in what we find ‘good enough to ship out,’ the doors can stay open. And that’s the bottom line. Keep the doors open.”

Another bit of dirty laundry is recalls. Ouch. They tend to damage your brand and your bottom line. Steve says, “Although defects are not all small (in fact, sometimes they turn out to be huge), a defect—in general—is a small escape…when compared to a recall. A recall is the Godzilla of escapes, leaving a wake of destruction in its path. And they happen all the time.”

“The fear of being exposed to the market and losing market share (and goodwill, and money) is huge. Finding the root cause of a problem then becomes a very important undertaking, indeed. Organizations who fear recalls live in a constant state of balancing between the risk… and the cost of fixing the inherent problem(s).”

At some point, says Steve, there is a tipping point. “Chances are that a smaller company can’t endure a big recall; it will force them to close their doors. Generally speaking, larger companies have deeper pockets with which to deal with such calamities. They may lose the aforementioned goodwill, or some market share, or their stock price falls. But they’ll probably keep going.”

Engineers explaining plant floors with a tablet


If you can focus on discovering root causes and eliminate the variation at the source, you can eliminate many of the added costs that creep into your production processes. These costs are usually the result of people trying to fix something quick or make the best of a deteriorating situation.

But key to all this is that your organization cannot be blind to excessive scrap, defects, or rework. Above all, you can’t be tentative, walking down the yellow brick road arm in arm, like Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin man—Scrap! Defects! And Rework! Oh, my!

Rather, you need to recognize the issues and put a quality team on the case. There’s no reason to leave money on the table by ignoring or hiding problems. Don’t be fooled: none of this is “the cost of doing business.” It’s just not.

Companies need to recognize what their issues are, where they reside, pursue intelligent fixes, and then the bottom line will reflect their efforts. There’s nothing to fear. InfinityQS quality management software solutions are designed to get you to Oz.