Support function to Commercial

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The student was assigned to work for Eskom Distribution Northern Region at Menlyn Office Park. She was allocated to the Technology and Quality department in the Network Services division.

The Technology and Quality department acts as a support function to Commercial.

When a vendor applies to Eskom, Commercial assesses the application and categorizes it as a product supplier, consultant or contractor. If everything on the application form is in order the vendor information is sent to the Technology and Quality department for evaluation. The vendor is evaluated based on the SHEQ (Safety, Health, Environment and Quality) system. The Technology and Quality (T&Q) department is responsible for the Quality part of the SHEQ system which consists of two categories namely the QMS (Quality management system) assessment and the technical assessment.

The technical assessment of vendors helps to ensure they have the right capabilities and that they comply with Eskom standards. The QMS assessment ensures that the vendor complies with the general requirements of QMS which entails that the organization shall establish, document, implement and maintain a QMS and continually improve its effectiveness in accordance with the ISO 9001:2008 standard. Although not a requirement, factory quality assessments can be done for a more in-depth QMS assessment. This is done through as site visit to the potential suppliers’ factory.

Once the technical and QMS assessments are completed, the vendor is officially evaluated by a panel consisting of a Safety and Health representative, an Environmental representative, Technical representatives and Quality control representatives.

After taking the technical and quality assessments and the final SHEQ evaluation into account the final recommendations are then send back to Commercial. Commercial will then use these recommendations to reject or approve the vendors’ application. Should the vendor be approved, they will be added to the approved supplier/contractor/consultant list for the specific product/service they applied for. This will enable them to tender to Eskom in the future.

Although the evaluations are the main focus of the T&Q department, it is not their only focus. They take on many other responsibilities such as investigations and productivity projects.

This report will focus on Quality Management Systems, evaluation of vendors, factory quality assessment and the TSC (Technical Service Centre) productivity project. The goal is to get a broader knowledge on the procedures, processes and standards used.


Evaluations are done on both product suppliers and service providers, such as contractors. The evaluation process can take months to complete and is done in phases. Therefore during the course of the training different product suppliers and service providers were evaluated at different stages of their evaluation. It can therefore be assumed that the whole evaluation process was not covered for both product suppliers and service providers, but that most parts of the evaluation process was covered for the product suppliers and the rest of the evaluation process was covered for the service providers. The product suppliers were in the following stages of evaluation namely: evaluation of the SHEQ manual and the site visits. The service providers were in the technical evaluation by a panel of specialists stage.

Before the technical evaluation of suppliers can be analysed, it must be placed in context with the whole supplier management cycle.

The Supplier Management Cycle

The process is triggered when Supplier Management receives a completed Supplier Application Form from the potential supplier.

Pre-qualification stage

Supplier management receives a completed Supplier Application Form from the potential supplier and ensures that all requirements are met as per the service requirements.

Supplier management then checks for the criticality of the listed services.

Supplier Management now sends an electronic copy of the SHEQ manual to Technology and Quality, Risk and Environmental sections for evaluation.

T&Q evaluates the SHEQ manual and compiles a report to the supplier and Supplier Management.

T&Q arranges a Technical evaluation when a minimum of six supplier files have been received.

IF required, T&Q arranges a Site Visits to the supplier’s premises.

The SHEQ team coordinator compiles a recommendation report to SEC and retains the individual and consolidated evaluation reports on a file with the acknowledgement and attendance register.

SEC writes the supplier a letter on the outcome of the evaluation and allocates a Vendor number. Where after SEC specify the services that the supplier has been approved for.

The Supplier Management now list the supplier on the regional database or reject the supplier. The services to be rendered by the supplier are also listed on the database.

Tender Enquiry Stage

The buyer checks the services the supplier is approved for and includes it on the Tender evaluation report.

Depending o the category, the buyer checks the validity of the ORHVS, COID, Tax clearance, Wireman’s licence, ECB registration and NHBRC.

The buyer requests a SHEQ plan when a Scope of Work was included on the Tender evaluation report.

The buyer verifies the availability of Environmental Law course certificate.

Post-Evaluation Stage

SHEQ audits are done by FSO/Safety risk coordinator/T&Q analyst.

It is done per area per financial year per panel.

The final report is fed back to Project managers and Procurement to consider for future contracts agreements.

Procedure for the Technical evaluation of Suppliers

This procedure takes place during the Pre-qualification stage of the Supplier Management Cycle and covers steps 4, 5 and 6.

The T&Q Admin Support shall receive supplier files from Supplier Management, shall capture the date and name on a register and shall open a new file for T&Q information.

The appointed Technical Evaluation coordinator shall receive the new supplier files and distribute them to the Quality Management Analysts (QMA’s) for Quality Management System (QMS) evaluation.

Quality Management System

The QMA shall evaluate the supplier’s QMS and compile a report using the QMS Evaluation Report template TQ040. The evaluation completion time shall be recorded by the evaluator.

The QMS shall be assessed against the most recent version of the ISO 9001:2008 standard and Northern Region’s minimum requirements for evaluating suppliers.

If the supplier’s QMS meets minimum requirements, a signed hardcopy of the evaluation report shall be sent to the technical Evaluation coordinator who shall include the supplier on the Technical Evaluation list for the next monthly Technical Evaluation meeting.

If the supplier’s QMS does not meet minimum requirements, a hardcopy of the QMS evaluation report shall be filed in the supplier management file and in the T&Q file. The QMA shall return the supplier management file to the T&Q Admin Support to update the supplier register and shall send the file back to supplier management to provide feedback to the supplier.

Supplier management shall, through written communication, inform the supplier of the status of their application. The supplier shall always be advised to rectify their QMS or seek consultation or assistance from the QMA who assessed their QMS and compiled report. If the supplier does not respond to supplier management’s correspondence within 30 days from the date of correspondence from Supplier Management to the supplier, the supplier shall have to re-apply for provision of services and the cycle shall begin again.

Suppliers whose QMS systems have been successful shall be invited to a Technical Evaluation meeting and shall be included on the monthly Technical Evaluation list. Only 4 suppliers shall be accommodated per day and the duration of each evaluation shall be a maximum of 2 hours.

The Technical Evaluation

The Technical Evaluation (TE) coordinator shall invite suppliers to the evaluation session informing them of the date, venue, time and any additional requirements 14 days before the actual Technical Evaluation date. The supplier shall confirm attendance within 7 days before the TE date, failing to do so the supplier shall be replaced by the next supplier in line for evaluation.

The TE coordinator shall also invite representatives from Safety and Health, Environmental, Quality and Senior Project Engineers to assist with the Technical Evaluations, according to the expertise required, to evaluate a particular category of supplier.

The TE coordinator shall then file a copy of the invitation letter and confirmation on the T&Q file for record purposes.

During the Technical Evaluation all attendees shall sign the attendance register. Suppliers shall also sign the acknowledgment letter of attendance.

During the Technical Evaluation, the supplier shall present an overview of his organization and all necessary information relevant to his area of expertise related to the categories of supply applied for. Technical Evaluation Committee members shall ask questions based on the Supplier Evaluation questionnaire and any other related questions necessary to determine the competence of the supplier. Any additional questions shall be inserted on the questionnaire for record purposes.

During the evaluation, each evaluator from Health and Safety, Environmental, Quality and Technical shall complete form TQ033 and shall submit their individual reports to the Technical Evaluation Chairperson. A final decision on whether to approve or reject he supplier’s application shall be made with supporting statements jointly by the TE committee.

The class codes for which the supplier is approved shall clearly be defined in the consolidated report. Any outstanding items, with target date for submission, shall be listed on the consolidated report.

IF there is a need for a site evaluation, the TE coordinator shall arrange the site evaluation with the supplier and the appropriate team within 7 days from the date of the completed Technical Evaluation. The Safety Risk coordinator shall be involved in these site evaluations and the site evaluation shall also cover equipment and tools. The site evaluation report shall be compiled and filed in the T&Q file. The technical evaluation consolidated report shall be updated and sent to Supplier Management within 5 days after the site visit. Supplier Management shall communicate the report findings to the supplier within 5 days of receipt of the report.

If a site visit is not required, the consolidated report shall be sent to Supplier Management within 5 days of the Technical Evaluation date.

The consolidated reports shall be compiled using form TQ034 and shall be signed by all stakeholders before it is sent to Supplier Management. The T&Q register for supplier evaluations shall be updated on completion of each supplier file handled.

Supplier site evaluation

One of the steps in this technical evaluation procedure is site evaluations. During the course of the training one supplier, namely Tricom Structures, was visited and a site evaluation was done.


Tricom exports about 97% of its’ products to the rest of Africa. Tricoms’ main customers are in the telecommunications industry. A new prototype Tricom has recently implemented was wind turbines on top of cell phone towers for MTN. The main factory is responsible for manufacturing plates and angles. Fasteners such as bolts, nuts, washers etc. are outsourced. A separate laser cutting factory is located on the premises. Although it is part of Tricom it operates as a separate entity. The laser cutting is used for the cutting of tubes. Tricom has automated equipment, such as CNC machines and robot welders on site which increases the production rate and quality of the products. Although Tricom can design from scratch, they would prefer to use the designs of Eskom and modify where necessary.

Quality assessment

System certifications

Tricom is not yet ISO 9001:2008 certified, but is in the processes of obtaining certification. Tricom plans to be certified by June 2010.

Quality Systems

The procedures and instruction are documented thoroughly, such as document control, records, data control, safety, testing, operations and processes. Internal inspection audits are done regularly. The employees are trained by a credited organization and are all strongly commitment to training and education. All the forklift drivers and crane operators are required by Tricom to have a license to drive a forklift or to operate a crane.

Raw material procurement, storage and subcontractor practices

Suppliers to Tricom are reviewed and evaluated strictly and thoroughly by using the Quality Audit Guidelines. Received goods are inspected to ensure there is no damage and that everything is accounted for.

Staff health and safety

Tricom has implemented strong safety rules and standards. The employees have good safety awareness and application, they are equipped with safety helmets, working boots and where necessary earplugs. Throughout the factory, walkways that are safe and clear of machines are painted green; railings are installed where necessary to ensure that employees do not walk into dangerous areas accidentally. The robot welding area is separated from the rest of the factory with a dark curtain to protect the eyes of by passers. The manual welding area is not closed off though and one can easily see the welding when passing by. Some employees are also trained as safety personnel. There are personnel trained in the following: fire fighters, first aid, evacuation wardens, emergency controllers, supervisor of machinery, incident investigator, etc. Risk management is outsourced to a consultant.

Technical assessment

Manufacturing methods

Although job cards are not used, a different system is implemented to keep track of the material. Material is also marked to avoid confusion.

Overview of manufacturing process:

Receive raw material

Inspect material

Temporarily store material

Receive outsourced goods

Store outsourced goods

Design product with specific customer specifications using CAD

Start production

Inspection of machines

In process inspection of material

Store finished work outside

Send product to be galvanized at outsourced, ISO certified company

Receive galvanized products and store

Test galvanizing thickness

Identify and sort material

Using the packing list, pack into bundles and check if everything is there

Take photos of packages for record purposes

Hand over to logistics

Sampling of material and products during the manufacturing process are done on a regular basis to ensure good quality. For the galvanizing inspection the electronic galvanizing thickness test is performed. Ultrasonic inspection is performed on stubs. Stubs must be 100% defect free. Because of robot welding there are almost no defects, but if a defect is found the stub must be reworked.

Workshop practice

Scrap material is disposed of in specific bins for collection. The storage of material received is not ideal; the material is stacked on the floor next to each other. It will be difficult to get to the material in the middle.

Design practices and application

There is a design team dedicated to in-house designs. They are very skilled in the area and uses CAD software for the designs. The final design is directly transferred to the necessary CNC machine for production.

Testing facility and practices

Testing is done on the material when received, during production and after galvanizing. Testing procedures are documented and specialized testing equipment is used.

Site and other services

Investigations are done on incidents by the incident investigator.


Tricom seems to be very organized, safety aware, professional and reliable. They are dedicated to good quality rather than good appearance. Their products are of high standard because of the thorough testing and automated machining. This is critical since the products Tricom wish to supply to Eskom must have very high safety standards or peoples’ lives could be at risk.