By the time your product makes it into the hands of your customer, there could be mechanisms and sub-mechanisms that make up the functionality. It is likely that not all of these mechanisms originate from your plant. What are these characteristics called and how can you be sure that they are in working order as part of the product you deliver to your clients?

What are pass through characteristics?

Pass through characteristics (PTC) are the characteristics of a product that do not originate with your company. Since they do not originate with you, these are characteristics that could potentially have fit, function, or form problems that would go undetected by your company.

3 drawbacks of pass through characteristics

Pass through characteristics can have several drawbacks:

1. They are part of your product

Even though pass through characteristics do not originate with your company, your company is standing behind the final product that contains these characteristics. The customer will be looking to you for quality control since the final product needs these characteristics to function and your company’s name is on the finished good.

2. They are not inspected

With pass through characteristics as part of your product, it can be difficult to guarantee that the final product is defect-free. This is because, with pass through characteristics, they are not inspected, made, or touched by your team.

3. Cost-prohibitive

Even if your team would be willing to inspect the pass through characteristics of a product, the time and money to do so could be greatly cost-prohibitive.

Why are pass through characteristics important to understand?

Understanding pass through characteristics is important to understand for the following reasons:

They can cause major issues

Not having a good understanding of pass through characteristics and where they are in your product, can put you at a severe disadvantage when it comes to the quality control of your business.

Customer trust

Your customers expect their products to work, so without an understanding of what parts were developed outside of your company, trust from your customers could erode.

Addressing them can be costly

Stopping production to address a pass through characteristic that is regularly faulty in your product can be very expensive and time-consuming. Knowing what they are and having them vetted ahead of production is key.

An industry example of a pass through characteristic

A gaming company has a new handheld gaming device that is being marketed as a holiday present. There are many working parts that are not created at the company’s plant but instead come from a supplier. One of these is the volume control apparatus. This comes from a supplier and is simply attached to the inner shell of the device at the manufacturing plant. It is not inspected in and of itself by the manufacturer, but it is expected to work by the customer. This is an example of a pass through characteristic.

3 best practices when thinking about pass through characteristics

Here are some practices to consider when using pass through characteristics in your output:

1. Identify the characteristics

The pass through characteristics of your product should be identified throughout the entire manufacturing process with quality documentation.

2. Inform your customers

Your customers should always be made aware of what parts of your product are pass through characteristics.

3. Communicate with your supplier

Your supplier should be fully aware of the potential issues with the parts leaving their facility. Controls need to be put in place to ensure quality.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about pass through characteristics?

What do you do about monitoring pass through characteristics if you are already in production?

You will want to carefully review all customer concerns and see which issues are not detectable by your company. These issues should be taken to the supplier to check what safeguards are in place to control them.

What if the pass through characteristic is not being properly inspected by the supplier?

It will then come down to how much risk you are able to absorb. You may also want to inspect how often the defect comes up in a sampling plan. If the lot in a sampling plan meets a satisfactory LTPD, you may want to simply continue in the short term. If not, you may need to find a new supplier.

Should there be an agreement with the supplier?

You should absolutely have an agreement with the supplier about any pass through characteristics.

Pass through characteristics that are part of your product

At the end of the day, your company needs to be confident that your products are going to work for your customers. Even if the mechanisms that are faulty do not originate with your organization, if your company’s name is on the final good, the customer will hold your business responsible. It is vital, then, that any potential faults that do not originate with your business are known and safeguarded against.

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