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    Step Four to lean manufacturing success requires each person in every department to be held responsible for his or her own quality. In a lean manufacturing envi­ronment, a company's quality is improved and con­trolled at the source. Quality objectives, status, and trends are communicated to all personnel, and internal and customer quality data are posted in the factory and office. Improvement teams have the authority to deter­mine the root cause of problems, put in place corrective actions that permanently solve the problem, and make changes in the system that prevent the problem from recurring. To control quality at the source, we must shift into elements included in the column labeled Standards, and address standardized processes and mistake-proofing. Controlling quality at the source requires strict ad­herence to standardized processes that yield maximum quality and output at least cost.


A tier-one automotive supplier has a change control process in place that requires a thorough analysis of the impact on quality, output, cost, delivery, and inventory levels before changes to a process or method are made. A change control committee meets weekly to review and approve or reject any change to product or process de­signs. The need for customer approval is identified and gained, if required, before the committee authorizes any change. The automotive OEMs see change as risk and want to ensure that any change in product or process does not impact their ability to deliver a high-quality and reliable product on time to their customers.


    Mistake-proofing is an approach to achieving zero defects in the production process, finding ways to keep errors from turning into defects, and ensuring customers receive error-free products. Simultaneous engineering, poka-yoke (mistake-proofing) devices, and successive verification are mistake-proofing tools that aid in controlling quality at the source. Simultaneous engineering is a team approach to designing product and processes. The team seeks to answer the question, beginning at the first phase of the design process, "What in the design of the product and/or process prevents employees from performing error-free work?" Representatives from marketing, design engineer­ing, and manufacturing partner with suppliers and the customer to design new products with a shared objective of highest quality at least cost! The voice of the customer is fully integrated in new product designs, and the cus­tomer requirements allow optimization of the company and supplier's manufacturing capabilities.

A computer OEM supplier uses tools such as quality function deployment, design of experiments, failure mode effects analysis (FMEA), and design for manufacturability and assembly (DFM&A) to identify the design that meets product performance and manufacturing producibility requirements. The DFM&A manual and product and process FMEAs are "living documents" that reflect lessons learned related to achieving perfect quality at least cost. The FMEA analysis is used to determine a risk pri­ority number (RPN) based on the estimated level of se­verity, frequency of occurrence, and potential for detection of a problem. The team determines actions to reduce the highest RPN, and to ensure that defect-free product is delivered to their customers.

Poka-Yoke Devices

   The three types of poka-yoke devices used for verifi­cation are contact, fixed value, and motion step meth­ods. Contact methods use sensing devices to detect abnormalities in product shape or dimension by whether or not contact is made between the product and the sensing device. An example is a simple me­chanical device on a molding machine that triggers an alarm when the roll of plastic reaches a predeter­mined level and the next roll must be spliced to pre­vent an equipment shutdown. Another example is a beam sensor that verifies the level of liquid in a bottle. A contract electronics manufacturer supplies a printed circuit board with eight standoffs to allow mounting to a customer's control panel. The customer contin­ued to complain about missing standoffs. The CEM's team added eight sensors to the press base to verify presence, and there have been no customer complaints since this mistake-proofing installation. The vision system on an SMT (surface mount technology) chip shooter is a sensing device that verifies component presence and position on the printed circuit board.

Fixed value methods detect abnormalities by check­ing for the specified number of motions where opera­tions are repeated a predetermined number of times. An example is a simple counter that reminds an operator when a welding tip must be replaced after the prescribed number of welds. Another fixed value method is a label placement machine that signals it is time to splice the next roll of labels when a predetermined number of la­bels have been placed. Motion step methods detect ab­normalities by checking for errors in standard motions where operations must be completed with predeter­mined motions. One company installed doors and lights on part bins. The assembler now pushes a model number on a control box, and the doors open for the required parts and lights above the bins make sure the assembler sees all required part bins.

To Be Continued

For balance of this article, click on the below link:

Lean Manufacturing Articles and click on Series 14

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