Monthly Archives: April 2012

Deming – Point no. 3 – Cease Dependence on Mass Inspection

Deming Point No. 3 – Cease Dependence on Mass Inspection

Continuing on with Deming’s point no. 3 (one of my favorites) is “Cease Dependence on Mass Inspection”. Unfortunately many organizations have this problem. 

There are many problems with this approach:

* Adds cost to your process

* Is only a method of detecting the problem and does nothing to keep it from happening again.

* In addition to potential costs of scrap, you may incur costs for rework, repair, and sorting.

* If the defect that was not detected it could also get out to your customer which has even worse repercussions.

* These costs are coming right from your company bottom line, which also hurts the potential for employee bonus, raises, profit sharing, stock dividend payouts as well as makes the company staying open less attractive to the shareholders and less competitive to customers.

Basically, a detect vs. prevent mentality is a losing situation for all stockholders. Many companies perform inspection in all phases of product handling (Receiving of materials, setup, in-process by production, in-process by QC, final inspection of all containers after production, final batch inspection) and  dock audits to make sure packaging and labeling was also done correctly. Some of these are necessary depending on the maturity of your quality system, manufacturing process and even your employee skill levels but in the end they are “band-aids” to being totally effective. Many times the inspection becomes so ingrained in the process that it continues on throughout the life of the product because the customer is not complaining and because leadership is lacking to drive process improvement (also know as complacency). 

So what should we be doing? There are a number of effective and proactive strategies that many companies use.

a) Production Process Planning (sometimes referred to APQP, or product realization planning). This is in my opinion the greatest tool in our arsenal as it forces and allows us to thoroughly review and put in place the necessary actions to operate a defect free process. Production Process Planning (if done properly) allows us to look at the design of the product so that it is feasible for manufacture and sometimes more  feasible for the end user who at times does not know your product as well as you. Production Process Planning is many times done to checklisats, planning sheets, and allows us to review the entire process from design to shipment (and sometimes post delivery).

b) Error-proofing, mistake-proofing, poka-yoke, etc… is the use of different methods to prevent defects or prevent the quantity of defects with the use of fixture design, product design, sensors, etc… Error proofing can be done to where an error cannot be made (remember error leads to a defect) through product and process design. No error can mean – no defect. This is also an ongoing process throughout the product lifecycle as processes will always find new creative ways to producing an error.

One of my favorite Production Process Planning tools is the Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA). There are a number of different types of FMEA (Design, Process, System, Machine, etc..). A great text on some of these FMEA types is the AIAG FMEA manual in my experience.

Needless to say that not focusing on proactive/ preventive activities will always lead to additional costs and in most cases the detection activities are not value-added. The definition of value-added that I like to look at is – “Is your customer willing to pay for the activity?”. If no,t it is not truly a value added activity. Having said that however I try to be realistic and admit that there can be activities that are non-value added but necessary.

Here’s to good planning.

Mark .