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Correcting Bad Process Habits

H

Houcka

#1
Currently, procedures at my company require operators to document first articles during the set-up of a poduction run and get approval in the form of a signature prior to running the job. I have noticed two bad habits with this process.

First, operators tend to just copy the product specification as opposed to documenting the actual set-up of the job. Where the first article asks for the material used, operators look to the product spec for the material code instead of the material physically in front of them. This method of documenting is used for all other fields on the first article and is causing added difficulty during the investigation of nonconformities if and when they occur.

Second, operators are running the job prior to receiving approval for their set-up. Our procedure states that a first article can be approved by any employee with a working knowledge of the process, so it should not be difficult to find someone to approve the set-up. But still, operators just seem to ignore this requirement. How can the company correct this behavior, and what should quality personnel do when un-signed first articles are found at final inspection? We don't want to just 'let it go' when it conflicts with written procedure, but we don't want to hold up an order for this either.

In my opinion, both of these habits need correcting, but I want the corrections to be genuinely effective. Management just wants to throw a band-aid on the issue with either 'train the operator' or 'reprimand the operator'. I don't think either would be effective, but I'm at a loss for other ideas.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.
 
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John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
#2
Currently, procedures at my company require operators to document first articles during the set-up of a poduction run and get approval in the form of a signature prior to running the job. I have noticed two bad habits with this process.

First, operators tend to just copy the product specification as opposed to documenting the actual set-up of the job. Where the first article asks for the material used, operators look to the product spec for the material code instead of the material physically in front of them. This method of documenting is used for all other fields on the first article and is causing added difficulty during the investigation of nonconformities if and when they occur.

Second, operators are running the job prior to receiving approval for their set-up. Our procedure states that a first article can be approved by any employee with a working knowledge of the process, so it should not be difficult to find someone to approve the set-up. But still, operators just seem to ignore this requirement. How can the company correct this behavior, and what should quality personnel do when un-signed first articles are found at final inspection? We don't want to just 'let it go' when it conflicts with written procedure, but we don't want to hold up an order for this either.

In my opinion, both of these habits need correcting, but I want the corrections to be genuinely effective. Management just wants to throw a band-aid on the issue with either 'train the operator' or 'reprimand the operator'. I don't think either would be effective, but I'm at a loss for other ideas.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.
Houckam

Whatever happened to supervisors coaching operators, explaining why the requirements are important, monitoring and follow-up to show their commitment to the requirements?

Those relationships may also result in suggestions to steamline the controls.

Failing this you may have to ensure Production incurs the price of nonconformity so they want to invest in prevention.

They will not do this while you cover for them. Make sure the problem belongs to Production instead of Quality.

John
 
2

20110525R

#3
Currently, procedures at my company require operators to document first articles during the set-up of a poduction run and get approval in the form of a signature prior to running the job. I have noticed two bad habits with this process.

First, operators tend to just copy the product specification as opposed to documenting the actual set-up of the job. Where the first article asks for the material used, operators look to the product spec for the material code instead of the material physically in front of them. This method of documenting is used for all other fields on the first article and is causing added difficulty during the investigation of nonconformities if and when they occur.

Second, operators are running the job prior to receiving approval for their set-up. Our procedure states that a first article can be approved by any employee with a working knowledge of the process, so it should not be difficult to find someone to approve the set-up. But still, operators just seem to ignore this requirement. How can the company correct this behavior, and what should quality personnel do when un-signed first articles are found at final inspection? We don't want to just 'let it go' when it conflicts with written procedure, but we don't want to hold up an order for this either.

In my opinion, both of these habits need correcting, but I want the corrections to be genuinely effective. Management just wants to throw a band-aid on the issue with either 'train the operator' or 'reprimand the operator'. I don't think either would be effective, but I'm at a loss for other ideas.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.
I pretty much solved this very same problem a few years ago. I got tired of the same thing, machinists just didn't want to fill out paperwork or document anything and the shop supervisor could care less. I finally talked upper management into letting me get barcode readers and putting them through out the shop. I then setup bar coded tags on all the materials, shop orders and work stations. Everytime someone had a job, they scanned the Work Order/Shop Order or MOT Bar code, then, when they got their material, I had already put a bar code label on the material at recieiving inspection and again when the material was cut for the job. It worked out pretty good, because I also was able to track Job Costing by the data generated when the bar codes were scanned for each job. Management liked it so well, that after a year, they upgraded the bar code readers and the new data management system paid for itself in cycle times and setup as well as enough data to cut costs and utilize other machines that weren't being utilized as well as they should have. It was a rough go setting it all up, but after it was working, we eventually improved on it, and even the shop supervisor loved the data he got (showed him who was producing and who wasn't). Also, when it came to giving approval to start the job, either myself or the Shop supervisor would verify the data and set-up then scan our bar code to approve the set-up. It wasn't totally perfect, but it did do a lot of good for us. The hardest part was the database, but we had a real sharp IT guy who wrote our software and modified programs for us to produce the reports which all of management and myself used.
You would be surprised at what you can do with barcodes and a scanner on the shop floor.
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#4
My place could seriously use barcoders.

But suppose there won't be any. If it's important to do first articles, it's important enough to talk with the operators, not just to them, and explain why it's important. People are tired of being talked at. And if the supervisor ever does setups, don't dare start without the first article then! :eek:

Then comes the follow through, so important like in golf or tennis. Show how important it is by plenty of visibility: make it so they don't have to wait for the first article. Use teams and reward those that have the best record of always getting the first article done, and correctly.

Behavior takes time to change, then more time to normalize, so expect that. Expect some to be more willing than others. Some people need more work to win over.
 

somashekar

Staff member
Super Moderator
#5
There is always a need for leadership by example and ownership of process. There is always a need for freedom with responsibility and awareness about system and requirement to be built in by the process owner by example. This comes from top. When I say top, it is not top management, but the top of every process and how he or she will show by example what to do and let the skilled people do the 'how to do' aspect.
That is the reason why we say ...
'The person who knows how to do will get the job, but the person who knows why to do will be his boss'
The 'why to do a thing in a way' has to be set as example and must be visible down the process chain.
 
2

20110525R

#6
My place could seriously use barcoders.

But suppose there won't be any. If it's important to do first articles, it's important enough to talk with the operators, not just to them, and explain why it's important. People are tired of being talked at. And if the supervisor ever does setups, don't dare start without the first article then! :eek:

Then comes the follow through, so important like in golf or tennis. Show how important it is by plenty of visibility: make it so they don't have to wait for the first article. Use teams and reward those that have the best record of always getting the first article done, and correctly.

Behavior takes time to change, then more time to normalize, so expect that. Expect some to be more willing than others. Some people need more work to win over.
"My place could seriously use barcoders. "
As as sidebar to Jennifers reply, our first Bar Code scanners were bought cheap. We got the base stations (wireless transcievers) and Scanners as factory reconditioned for around $70 a piece. They were simple wireless scanners and even came with a basic software program (which our IT guy modified). These were great as a starting point for our needs, so as far as your place "could use bar code readers", it's was easy for me to sell the management on them since we spent less than $700 for the whole system. Look online for bar code scanners and if you can find a use for them in your company, that is a good jumping off point and management always loves cheap fixes to big problems.
 
T

The Specialist

#7
Finding an engineering solution to this problem is always the best option, providing
Finances allow.

In order to resolve this issue you must first get the backing of your superiors. Carry out a risk-based exercise which highlights the potential issues with process failures due to poor documentation practices. Include;

End product quality issues
Client requirements
Re-work time
Reject waste costs
Ect…

If there is a tangible cost that can be applied, either in terms of money or business reputation and effect on growth, then you should secure the support of the purse-string holders.

Once the support has been obtained; suggest an engineering solution (e.g. scanners as suggested by previous poster). The cost should be minimal by comparison to current costs incurred due to poor working practices.
Alternatively, you need to make sure that your staff fully understand the CONSEQUENCES of their actions and WHY they are following a strict procedure.

Often, staff will behave like robots and continue as they are if they do not understand the importance of following the procedure precisely.

Then, I am afraid; it is time to make sure that staff are aware that non-compliance with the requirement constitutes misconduct and is punishable by way of dismissal.
 
S

silentrunning

#8
We had this problem several years ago. We finally decided that if operators wanted to run the order without 1st Article approval, they could. But, they would be responsible for material and labor costs if the parts failed final inspection. Almost instantly they became "documention fanatics".

Doug
 

John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
#9
Then, I am afraid; it is time to make sure that staff are aware that non-compliance with the requirement constitutes misconduct and is punishable by way of dismissal. [/SIZE][/FONT]

The Specialist,

Three questions, just to clarify:

  1. Should we be firing employees because they were badly led?
  2. Should we be firing employees because TM failed to provide a management system that helped them to meet requirements?
  3. Or are we threatening employees to correct their malicious noncompliance?
Many thanks,

John
 
T

The Specialist

#10
The Specialist,

Three questions, just to clarify:

  1. Should we be firing employees because they were badly led?
  2. Should we be firing employees because TM failed to provide a management system that helped them to meet requirements?
  3. Or are we threatening employees to correct their malicious noncompliance?
Many thanks,

John
Sorry John. I didn't mean that you need to be firing people left and right!

What I mean is that it is worth letting your staff understands the potential consequences of not following procedure and that part of their training is to understand that procedures MUST be followed AS WRITTEN at ALL times!

My suggestion was that, providing the above has been made clear, it is also worth pointing out that they are not fulfilling their job role and that could ultimately, eventually lead to their dismissal.

There comes a point where everything else has been done and you cannot just let it go on.

There was a recent dismissal in my organisation for something similar… where the ‘checker’ was repeatedly signing off documentation without having checked it! Ample training and opportunity to follow procedure was given, however the individual would not desist in doing things his own way. The problem is that his actions lead to a product recall, resulting in loss of time, money and not a little embarrassment.

It is important that staff really ‘get it’ that procedures are to be 100% followed. You can do this by actively encouraging staff to give feedback on processes or procedures, where they have ‘improvement’ ideas, thus engaging them in the improvement process.

I feel for you in this situation. No-one wants to fire good staff. Hopefully you will not have to.
 
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