3 Tips to Automate Inbound Material Verification

Posted on 
August 25, 2020
Laura Foti
CMO, Specright

Your product development and purchasing teams spent thousands of hours finding exactly the right material from just the right supplier. Now comes the hard part: ensuring that the quality of the raw materials meets the agreed upon specifications and applicable SOW.

Believe it or not, one of the leading causes of product failure is out-of-spec materials. With the increase in SKU proliferation and global supply chains, quality teams have to manage more than ever when it comes to quality control.

Inbound Quality Inspection Today

I’ve spoken with companies that receive thousands of COAs every day from various suppliers that still rely on manual checks for inbound processing and incoming quality control. The reality is, manual checks and inspections are never done in a timely manner and don’t scale.

But don’t worry - technology can lend a hand when it comes to automating inbound material verifications. Even if you’re not managing thousands of inbound material verifications or have years of experience, you’ll learn how automation can flag issues and accelerate time-to-resolution.

How Do You Control Quality Using Automation?

Product or materials show up at your receiving dock. You collect all the documents, bill of lading, goods receipt, and lot numbers.

Now what?

The delivery of goods kicks off inbound processes and data entry that for most companies is still manual. Maybe you scan them or put them in a filing cabinet for safe keeping.

Every manual step in the supply chain creates risk. Especially when it comes to manual data entry. And the risk of not catching bad product can mean everything from a product failure to a recall and damage to a company’s reputation. But just like spell check enabled us to confidently write emails, technology can also lend a hand when it comes to incoming inspections matching quality standards.

The three tips to automate inbound material inspection are: evaluate the data you capture from your suppliers, auto-score inbound materials against criteria, and set up alerts and workflows based on score.

3 Tips to Automate Inbound Material Verification

1. Extract necessary data from supplier documents

In a perfect world, you’d give all of your suppliers one standard document that they would use in their inbound delivery to you.

But we don’t live in a perfect world.

If you don’t have the leverage to dictate what suppliers provide to you, the next step is to consolidate and study all the documents and map them to your “ideal” inputs. By using technology to map fields, your suppliers don’t have to change what they provide you - you just have to set up the “mapping” between the two.

So if supplier A calls a field “moisture” and supplier B calls it “moisture recorded” both of these fields would still map to the same field in your system. This enables you to standardize supplier inputs across your supply chain network. More importantly, it allows you to automate the ingestion of this data to make it real time and alleviate manual checks on the quality department.

2. Auto-grade inbound materials against criteria

So you’ve digitized and automated supplier data inputs when it comes to quality. Now what?

The next step is to auto-score the materials you receive against your specifications. This enables you to quickly catch product defects and quality issues as soon as possible.

It’s hard to overstate the benefits of automating inbound material checks.

First, it allows you to prevent issues from entering your supply chain. Second, it prevents bad products from causing issues in the manufacturing process and shop floor, which can result in line shutdowns, slow speed-to-market, and even delay orders. Third, it allows you to more quickly trigger corrective action and identify the root cause or source of an issue.

Let’s dive deeper into quality alerts and workflows.

3. Set up quality management alerts and workflows

But what does auto-grading look like and how does it help you improve product quality? In Specright, it’s as easy as checking a status of “pass” or “fail.”When something is marked as “fail,” it’s critical to trigger the right business process to resolve the quality issue and prevent it from happening again.

To start, everyone associated with that failed record - suppliers, operations teams, procurement teams and so forth can receive a notification that something is wrong. Furthermore, it’s a best practice to set up workflows such as Supplier Corrective Actions to immediately kick off an investigation into what went wrong.


In closing, quality professionals must continue to digitize and take a more proactive approach to managing quality across the supply chain. Technology like Specright can help automate supplier and other key quality data to help you take control of quality inside and outside of your four walls. By automating and scoring critical data, issues can be identified and resolved before they impact production orders.

For best practices on how to use data to drive intelligent quality management, download our datasheet.


Laura Foti

Laura leads marketing and investor relations at Specright. Prior to Specright, she led advertising and analytics at GE Digital, GE’s Industrial Internet software business. Before that, she was a consultant at Deloitte Digital working in enterprise digital transformation, where she helped clients design and deploy eCommerce experiences, develop revenue-driving mobile apps, and reimagine their global digital marketing strategy. Laura was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for marketing and advertising and Brand Innovators 40 Under 40 and 100 Women to Watch lists. She graduated from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She resides in Newport Beach, CA.

Explore More Topics

Get Started

With Specright’s Solution Suite, you can digitize, centralize, and link your specification data to drive efficiencies, intelligence, traceability, and collaboration within your organization and across your supply chain network.
Get Started