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I was assigned as Kaizen Leader for our MRB Area - Your advice appreciated

Q

QualityGRL

#1
Hello!
Today I was assigned as a leader for a Kaizen project. Unfortunatelly, our MRB process is pretty confusing (which is why they need the project). All the departments see MRB as a black hole where they can send non-conforming material for any reason (scrap,supplier, etc etc) and act like the problem is over.
I am also thinking that management Kaizen project is me (by saving engineers). They assigned me a team of people that will be able to help me physically to move stuff but not to think and put this project in order.
Anyway, I will make the best out of this :cfingers: I need help to guide my team and to find a way to make our MRB process productive and more structured. The problem is I don't know where to start. please any advice will be very welcome!!!

:thanx:
 
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Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
#2
Hello!
Today I was assigned as a leader for a Kaizen project. Unfortunatelly, our MRB process is pretty confusing (which is why they need the project). All the departments see MRB as a black hole where they can send non-conforming material for any reason (scrap,supplier, etc etc) and act like the problem is over.
I am also thinking that management Kaizen project is me (by saving engineers). They assigned me a team of people that will be able to help me physically to move stuff but not to think and put this project in order.
Anyway, I will make the best out of this :cfingers: I need help to guide my team and to find a way to make our MRB process productive and more structured. The problem is I don't know where to start. please any advice will be very welcome!!!

:thanx:
Well, if your organization has an idea to try to implement Kaizen activity, that's a step in the right direction. However, throwing neophytes into battle without some basic training is just making them cannon fodder.

I don't normally approve of the Kaizen concept, since in most cases the implementation seems (to experienced quality practitioners) like a bunch of decapitated chickens running around precisely because some guy somewhere read an article about Japanese quality being great and reasoned [incorrectly] that ANYTHING with a Japanese name must be great.

My colleague, Akio Miura, an ASQ member in Tokyo who holds ALL the ASQ certifications, has often ridiculed the way kaizen is implemented at even the famous companies in Japan (Toyota, etc.)

If I can summarize his main criticism - kaizen is often aimed at little improvements, but big improvements which could result in quantum leaps forward in quality and efficiency, are left unexplored because the "people on the ground" [the actual workers] don't have a sufficient overview of the big picture in an organization to look at how all operations in an organization interact.

When Akio and I first talked about this ten or fifteen years ago, both he and I were striving to spread Deming's theory about a System of Profound Knowledge (SoPK) wherein each member of an organization is put in and kept in "the loop" about the big picture of how organizations interact with customers, suppliers, regulators, competitors, and the communities in which they operate as well as how the individual departments in an organization interact with each other.

Organizations still organized in silos are resistant to disseminating such information for fear the silos may be dismantled and petty bosses lose their clout. Other organizations operate in an atmosphere of secrecy and/or fear, neither of which is conducive to employees making suggestions when they feel alienated from the bosses and/or owners of the organization.

So, go forward and read about Kaizen events and initiatives, but keep in mind the quick fixes often touted in the promotional material for Kaizen can sometimes actually be counter productive if they are not considered in relation to the "big picture."
 
E

eburns

#3
The first thing I would do is list the biggest problems you're having with MRB, most likely being material moving in and out physically but not electronically, causing inventory control issues. Also, items probably move in and stay there too long.

Someone will need to be assigned ownership of the area to police the movement of material...nothing moves in or out without proper approval.

Use a controlled document to define the problem with the material and to get sign-offs for the material disposition (scrap, use-as-is, sort, rework, return to vendor etc...)

Perform a physical inventory and display the results in the form of $$$ to raise awareness of the amount of material tied up in MRB.

Compare the physical inventory to the electronic inventory of the MRB area and chart the discrepancies.

Revise the non-conforming/MRB procedure to require a 30 day limit to material status in that location.

These are just a few places to start. Good luck, MRB can be a headache.
 

qusys

Trusted Information Resource
#4
Hello!
Today I was assigned as a leader for a Kaizen project. Unfortunatelly, our MRB process is pretty confusing (which is why they need the project). All the departments see MRB as a black hole where they can send non-conforming material for any reason (scrap,supplier, etc etc) and act like the problem is over.
I am also thinking that management Kaizen project is me (by saving engineers). They assigned me a team of people that will be able to help me physically to move stuff but not to think and put this project in order.
Anyway, I will make the best out of this :cfingers: I need help to guide my team and to find a way to make our MRB process productive and more structured. The problem is I don't know where to start. please any advice will be very welcome!!!

:thanx:
Agree with Wes, good point:agree:
I think the control of non conforming material ( or MRB as you call) is first a question of responsibility and authorothies ( as per par 8.3 of ISO 9001) , that shall be clear and well set in an organization.
You could start from them and from the documented procedure that your organization has set.
You shall have data and not feeling in your hand to do a good and useful analysi to improve this activity. You may want to think about an internal audit on the activity of control of non conforming process according to process approach, looking at effectiveness ( and efficiency) of that activity.
If you start from brainistorming activity, the thing could carry to no results.
it is key the support and the involvement of the process owners and mgmt.:bigwave:
 

Bev D

Heretical Statistician
Staff member
Super Moderator
#5
The Lean approach would be to map the process and add #'operators", cycle times, queue times and WIP levels to each operation. Identify the constraints (where the NC material is waiting the longest) and fix the constraint. (why does material wait? what waste is involved in the process?)
Additionally identify steps as 'value-add'* and non-value-add or waste. How can you reduce or eliminate the 'non-value/waste' steps? Usually these are there for some real or perceived reason ("jsut in case soemthign bad happens we should...) so you may have to remove the reason before removing the waste...(an example of this is many signatures to approve a disposition. typically signature lists grow for several well intentioned reasons: a person or group actually wants to be informed and and someone thought that a required 'approval' signature would guaratnee that they were informed; a long time ago someone caught an error and now they are always on the lookout for a similar error, individuals/groups believe that they bring a specific subject matter expertise that others will not have...)

*in this case of course every step is non-value-add by the lean operational definition of non-value-add. but since many non-value-add steps are valuable, we can bend the definition a bit for this case: think of value add activity as that which directly moves the material from the initial NC state to it's final complete disposition...

This is what my organization has done to improve the MRB process and it has been fairly successful at reducign overall cycle time from months and weeks to days and hours.
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
#6
The Lean approach would be to map the process and add #'operators", cycle times, queue times and WIP levels to each operation. Identify the constraints (where the NC material is waiting the longest) and fix the constraint. (why does material wait? what waste is involved in the process?)
Additionally identify steps as 'value-add'* and non-value-add or waste. How can you reduce or eliminate the 'non-value/waste' steps? Usually these are there for some real or perceived reason ("jsut in case soemthign bad happens we should...) so you may have to remove the reason before removing the waste...(an example of this is many signatures to approve a disposition. typically signature lists grow for several well intentioned reasons: a person or group actually wants to be informed and and someone thought that a required 'approval' signature would guaratnee that they were informed; a long time ago someone caught an error and now they are always on the lookout for a similar error, individuals/groups believe that they bring a specific subject matter expertise that others will not have...)

*in this case of course every step is non-value-add by the lean operational definition of non-value-add. but since many non-value-add steps are valuable, we can bend the definition a bit for this case: think of value add activity as that which directly moves the material from the initial NC state to it's final complete disposition...

This is what my organization has done to improve the MRB process and it has been fairly successful at reducign overall cycle time from months and weeks to days and hours.
I'm a big champion of "Lean" dating from even before I was a charter member of the "Advanced Manufacturing Interest Group" which was the precursor to the Lean Division of ASQ.

In this case, however, I get the impression the bells and whistles Beverly suggests are getting a little ahead of what QualityGRL's organization needs FIRST.

MRBs need a strong basic framework and, most importantly, a combination of authority and knowledge to make decisions on handling suspected materials. Without that basic framework, imposing Lean techniques is not value added if the members of the MRB do not have the requisite knowledge to make a decision and the authority to implement it. Too often, I have seen interminable delays in organizations because of the disconnect between an MRB deciding a product [material] was either conforming or nonconforming, but not having the power and authority to move it out of limbo without resorting to a higher authority to review the decision.

I've written about MRBs on a number of occasions here in the Cove and over in the ASQ discussion forums.

About 7 years ago, I wrote these two comments
I think the MRB function is necessary.
I see it as two subjective choices, the decision left up to each top management:

  1. Have a formal subset of individuals within your organization who comprise such a board and handle EVERY suspected material discrepancy,
    or
  2. It is just a function overseen by one individual who has the power and authority to include others as he sees fit on an ad hoc basis to consider material questions of varying complexity, but the one individual can handle most issues himself in a routine manner.
The crux of the matter is how consistently and uniformly the organization deals with suppliers and customers when issues of suspected nonconforming material arise.
and this, about my own operation
Quote:
Operation:
Operators were all on MRB (material review board) in addition to Quality Manager, Finance/Purchasing, Marketing. MRB meetings were held in their [the operators'] conference rooms. If customers or suppliers were invited to MRB, they met there, too.

All training (in-house, machine tool suppliers, outside experts, cutting tool suppliers, heat treaters, platers, etc.) could be conducted on-site. Customers were encouraged to come and meet with operators running their jobs.

We had no quality inspectors (we did have quality trainers and guys who acted as "court of last resort" when a question would arise.) Operators did own first article inspections, based on control plan/inspection plan agreed with customer as part of contract review. Another operator would perform a redundant first article inspection with different inspection instruments. Marked sample with BOTH inspection reports was sent to customer for confirmation before production began.

In-process inspection, SPC, etc. was performed by operator in real time. If nonconformance was discovered, production would halt - all operators would collaborate on finding and curing cause, only calling in outside help if solution eluded them. Inspection records, charts, etc. went right to computer where they were available in real time to in-house folk and customers.

Operators had autonomy to bring in experts from our suppliers of material, capital equipment, and expendable tooling to stay up to date on industry innovation. Sometimes, we shut the whole shop down and chartered a bus to take us to the International Machine Tool Show to spend the day.

If an operator wanted to see a customer's operation and how his product was used, we made it happen. Similarly for a supplier's operation.

In my own practice, "suspects" were referred to a Material Review Board. The MRB had power and authority to make unilateral decision on suspects detected in-house. If a suspect arose at a customer, MRB worked jointly with customer to determine true status and devise a remedy acceptable to all parties. Often, a customer would be called in to affirm a "use as is" determination, regardless of where the suspicion arose.

From 1980 on, my MRB (Material Review Board) was always cross-functional, so it had the experience, knowledge, and power to make decisions on the spot (high efficiency - no delays in making decisions about N/C on incoming or outgoing material.)

I did essentially the same thing with the groups which made decisions about Contract Review and plans for new capital expenditures.

It just seemed like good sense to me. I'd be willing to bet lots of other executives independently came to the same conclusion as I.
The point we need to keep in mind is:
For a number of reasons - operator variation, measuring instrument variation, personal interpretation or estimate of an instrument reading, etc. - folks inspecting the same part may come to different conclusions regarding conformance to specifications. It is good company practice to have a process in place to routinely resolve the issue when such instances arise. In my contract machining business, such instances arose frequently enough that we codified the resolution under our Material Review Board, regardless of whether the issue arose in-house or not. This is definitely NOT a matter for discipline or punishment, but for simple, methodical resolution, with NO FINGER POINTING!
 
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