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"Detection, NOT Prevention!" - Relying on Final Inspection

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bettsaj

#1
The reason I’m posting this is to hopefully pick your brains regarding a work related issue. I’ve been in quality assurance for years (about 25 at last count) and have pretty much always worked in automotive related industry whether it be 3rd or 2nd tier supply work. I’ve recently relocated my family and therefore have had to move my job too. I’ve now found myself working for a company who supply sheet metal products. They supply to companies like JCB, Bosch, Mutlipulse, Bombardier (that’s a laugh!!). Anyway, the reason I’m contacting you is this.

I’ve hit upon a problem which I’m unsure how to address. The company has an old attitude of “check the stuff at the end of the manufacturing process before it gets dispatched”. Obviously this is totally wrong, and needs to be addressed. The issue is, they won’t budge with their thoughts and attitudes on this. I was on holiday the other week and whilst I was away they sent some parts into a customer that turned out to be wrong. The DXF had been programmed with the wrong hole size, we’re now on the verge of possibly losing that account which is worth about £250,000 purely because of that issue. At present I feel like I’m hitting my head against a brick wall. I know what needs to be done but talking sense into some of the management is like pulling teeth. A severe case of old dogs and new tricks I think.

Our products are mostly small volume, at most 100 off so running SPC isn’t really an option when our average production batch is only about 40 or 50 parts. The other issue is the quality department is just me…. There is no other quality staff apart from a guy that works for me part time when he’s not doing other things. All the setters are expected to conduct and qualify their own first offs, which I don’t agree with. I’ve tried to open discussion regarding me doing the first offs, but that wasn’t agreed. The reason being that “it’ll cost too much money in machine downtime waiting for them to be passed off”….. bad attitude, and a bit short sighted I think.

I’ve been expected to own the quality system here, but feel too much resistance from some management who possibly fear change. Their attitude is detection… not prevention, which as we all know is totally wrong. My question to you is how would you go about changing attitudes, have you ever come across this before (I suspect you have).

The general mind set of the people that work here are "them and us". The shop floor blames the engineering department, and vice versa, the engineering department haven't got a good thing to say about producion.

Our processes are pretty much the same for all the work we do:

  1. Punch/Laser
  2. Deburr
  3. Bend
  4. Paint or Plate
  5. Pack
  6. Despatch
The punch and laser ops are done via a DXF which *should* be correct and are screen checked before being given to production, but experience has told me otherwise. They have played with SPC in the past, my predessesor had a go, but wasn't very ofait with it. No control charts, no histograms, no nothing... Just a bunch of figures on a spread sheet with no visual representation of what was going on.

The company are in the dark ages where quality is concerned, the bending department just use a vernier and a height stand with a scribing attachment, the punching isn't inspected at all, as they put all faith in the DXF programming. I've started to target certain jobs and conduct adhock inspections on the shop floor but as i'm the only one in the department I can't be everywhere.

Please give me your wisdom, and suggestions :)
 

somashekar

Staff member
Super Moderator
#2
Re: "Detection, NOT Prevention!!!!"

Please give me your wisdom, and suggestions
You have over 25 years of experience.
Would it be possible for you to become a part of the company management as a partner and begin to have your say and clearly spell out what part of the company will be your direct responsibility.
Perhaps you can invest a part of your 25+ years earnings as an investment to become a partner.
 
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bettsaj

#3
Re: "Detection, NOT Prevention!!!!"

25 years experience counts for nothing when you're faced with dinosaurs that won't adapt a different way of working. As for my last 25 years earnings......... I work in engineering, therefore you should know I'm not rich :lmao:

By the way i am the Quality & Environmental Manager... So i am already management, however the dinosaurs are management too.
 

somashekar

Staff member
Super Moderator
#4
Re: "Detection, NOT Prevention!!!!"

25 years experience counts for nothing when you're faced with dinosaurs that won't adapt a different way of working. As for my last 25 years earnings......... I work in engineering, therefore you should know I'm not rich :lmao:

By the way i am the Quality & Environmental Manager... So i am already management, however the dinosaurs are management too.
Hmmm..that was only a suggestion as an alternate which I felt to share.
Persist or Perish....so goes the saying.
There will always be a silver lining over the dark clouds. There is a need for single minded devotion to your strong points and when the others see it work and give results, then resistance to change melts down.
 

rob73

looking for answers
#5
Re: "Detection, NOT Prevention!!!!"

Bettsaj
One thing all companies need is money, a good option would be to show just how much money is wasted by checking stuff after it has been made incorrectly, your example of loosing a £250K contract is just one, I bet you could show a lot more.
I do know how you feel, luckily for me most of our dinosaurs are now extinct:D. Hang in there things will get better.
Rob
 
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bettsaj

#6
Re: "Detection, NOT Prevention!!!!"

I had a discussion with the engineering manager yesterday, and when I proposed that I should check first offs from the punching operation he totally dissed it saying it would cost too much money in machine downtime.

His other argument was that, and I quote "The customer has a finished product so that is what we should be checking, not something that's half made or partially made"... eehh hmmmm :jawdrop:

This is the mentality i've got to contend with. They'd rather check it at the end, after all the ops have been done.. find it wrong and then make it again.... rather than catch it before it's propogated through the whole batch.
 

Colin

Quite Involved in Discussions
#7
Re: "Detection, NOT Prevention!!!!"

Sadly Andy, you are not alone with this problem, especially in the UK. We like to think we have moved on past this mindset but it still exists in certain areas. I must say though that it is more unusual in the automotive sector than in traditional 'metal bashing' industries.

How do you get round it? slowly I suspect - education, education, education.

Rob makes a good point about the financial route. If you could collate some figures (you may already have them) that show the cost of poor quality, you may get some attention.

Typical areas being nonconformances, rework, returns, rejects, concessions, credit notes raised, contracts lost, etc. I apologise if I am telling you something you already know.

You could also try using some of the information in ISO 9004, there is tons of stuff in there to point towards improvement - but I realise that it doesn't change attitudes - there has to be a willingness to change.

At which level do you see the worst of this behaviour, is it middle management or senior management? If it is at middle management level then you may be able to reach around them to the senior level. If it is senior management, you may be able to work with the middle level to change things locally. Good luck.
 
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Migre

#8
Re: "Detection, NOT Prevention!!!!"

Are you assessed against ISO 90001 (or similar) by an external certification body? If so, and if your relationship with the auditor/s is reasonable, would it be possible for them to *somehow* highlight / reinforce your concerns? Perhaps not an ideal solution but it sounds like you should consider any option available to you right now.
 
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bettsaj

#9
Re: "Detection, NOT Prevention!!!!"

I have a very good relationship with our BSI assessor... He usd to be my Quality Manager when I was a lowley Quality Engineer about 10 years ago. regarding the management positions here... All the dinosaurs are middle managament like myself. We have one general manager who's hardly ever here, and doesn't tend to get wholly involved with the day to day running of the company. He spends probably about 2 days a week in the office, the rest of the time he's out *visiting people* :rolleyes:

The engineering manager has suggested that If i want to ensure that the DXF programs are correct I should screen check them myself... i'm not keen on that as I will be doing his job or the job of one of his engineers. My task is to ensure that what comes out the machine is correct... Not to screen check DXF programmes instead of one of his engineers.... Or do you think i'm being difficult by taking that stance?
 

howste

Thaumaturge
Super Moderator
#10
Re: "Detection, NOT Prevention!!!!"

...a good option would be to show just how much money is wasted by checking stuff after it has been made incorrectly, your example of loosing a £250K contract is just one, I bit you could show a lot more.
This was my first thought. They probably don't realize how much their current practices are hurting the bottom line. How is the corrective action process working? Do they actually do corrective actions, or corrections? If you can quantify how much each specific instance costs the company, then propose measures (that you're already trying to implement) that will prevent each from happening again, you may have a chance.

I had a discussion with the engineering manager yesterday, and when I proposed that I should check first offs from the punching operation he totally dissed it saying it would cost too much money in machine downtime.
Maybe you can take it a step at a time. Ask them to bring the first-off piece for you. You can check it while the production is running. Don't allow them to release the product to the next operation before it's been verified. Even if you check it after a short run is completed, you could find a problem before it goes to the next operation. It may at least contain any problems before they move on. After you catch enough problems that wouldn't have been found before, you may be able to get them to take the next step.

How do you get round it? slowly I suspect - education, education, education.
Yes!
 
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