Lean Manufacturing - Eliminating Inspection - Can Quality Survive?

psyched1

Involved In Discussions
#1
We are a company who for the last year has gone down the lean path. In our attempt our lean guru's cry has been to eliminate inspection. As the lean people say "inspection is muda (waste)" and the customer does not pay extra for that. (Funny the customer pays nothing for the nonconforming created by not inspecting).

My biggest gripes is moving to zero inspection in recieving. The vendors are not capable currently of meeting most of our requirements to push no inspection at this time is suicide.

Reducing inspection internally would be woth while if our operator took responsibility for their actions but when you hire temps and don't train them on quality you get what you deserve.

I like the first pass yeild info if its not fabricated. Our quality guru won't let anyone even look at the numbers or discuss how he got there. It easy to have high first pass yeild when you have various sorts before the parts enter the cell.

Lean for us is an attempt by the manufacturing people to bypass quality.
 
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gpainter

Quite Involved in Discussions
#2
I think that most would agree that inspection is a cost factor. The less you do the better off you are. Will inspection be completely eliminated? No, in my view. I guess that my question would be "Why have suppliers that are not capable of meeting your requirements, What are you doing to help them, if you are stuck using them? All of our quality numbers are posted, nothing is hidden. Sounds like that there are real problems with quality. Keep in mind that for many companies "lean" means different things(that may not be a part of lean) and have become Americanized, getting by with the least amount of people, doing away with things.
 
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W

wmarhel

#3
psyched1 said:
We are a company who for the last year has gone down the lean path. In our attempt our lean guru's cry has been to eliminate inspection. As the lean people say "inspection is muda (waste)" and the customer does not pay extra for that. (Funny the customer pays nothing for the nonconforming created by not inspecting).
Defects of any sort are one of the cardinal sins of Lean. The ultimate goal should be to eliminate inspection and attack the root problem. Eliminating inspection and not doing anything about the cause solves nothing.

psyched1 said:
My biggest gripes is moving to zero inspection in recieving. The vendors are not capable currently of meeting most of our requirements to push no inspection at this time is suicide.
Is there a plan in place to work with the vendors on improving their quality? At the very least is there a line of communication to the vendor so that they are aware (not just a phone call saying something is bad) of the problem? Have the vendor come in with a group of their people (quality, engineering, production folks, etc) and go out in your process and see how the problems are affecting things. Then, take a group of your people and go through their process and see what jumps out.

psyched1 said:
Reducing inspection internally would be woth while if our operator took responsibility for their actions but when you hire temps and don't train them on quality you get what you deserve.
I was in contract manufacturing (wire harnesses/cable assemblies and whatever else we could get our hands on during the economic downturn). We used temps and didn't have a large problem with them. Of course, we sat down with the agency and gave them very clear requirements of the people of the people we wanted.

We also had pretty clear standardized work instructions, and an organized shop. Keep in mind that this was done in one of the poorest counties in North Carolina where tobacco was king, and High School diploma in some cases was uncommon.

psyched1 said:
I like the first pass yeild info if its not fabricated. Our quality guru won't let anyone even look at the numbers or discuss how he got there. It easy to have high first pass yeild when you have various sorts before the parts enter the cell.
That's a problem. I'm typically suspicous of people that don't describe the method they used or that won't share the data.

psyched1 said:
Lean for us is an attempt by the manufacturing people to bypass quality.
Sad to hear that, but your not the only person I've heard who has had that problem. There are also people who expect "Lean" to be some sort of magic pill to solve their problems and don't understand that it is a long term journey.

Wayne
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#4
psyched1 said:
Funny the customer pays nothing for the nonconforming created by not inspecting.
If your company believes that defects are created through lack of inspection, you'd better keep the inspectors. I'm sure they'll have plenty of work to do.
psyched1 said:
My biggest gripes is moving to zero inspection in recieving. The vendors are not capable currently of meeting most of our requirements to push no inspection at this time is suicide.
So, in addition to inspectors who, by their absence, create defects, you also have suppliers you know are not capable of meeting your requirements. Another good reason for inspectors. Has your Lean "guru" thought about examining the cost of inspection versus the cost of having capable suppliers?
psyched1 said:
when you hire temps and don't train them on quality you get what you deserve.
Absolutely. Sounds like an acute case of penny-wise/pound-foolish.
psyched1 said:
Lean for us is an attempt by the manufacturing people to bypass quality.
Doing foolish things and fudging then numbers and calling it "lean" is, as you well know, meaningless. My prediction is that somewhere down the road the Lean guy will be sent packing, and the bosses will talk about what a crock Lean is. I feel your pain.
 
Q

qualityboi

#5
Cry on my shoulder

I have been through this. One of the companies I worked for hired a guy from Dell, as director of operations. The first thing he did was eliminate final inspection. When defects went through the roof he blamed the quality manager (my boss at the time). We were making customized computers for groups like Jet Propulsion Labratories, Cal Poly and MIT among many other university scientific research centers with 1543 different configurations. I don't know how many times I have heard inspection adds no value, probably doesn't if one makes the same widgets year after year. Anywho the biggest issue was that he implemented nothing to take the place of that inspection. They tried to integrate that inspection into assembly operators procedure and created a bottle neck. For some reason management couldn't figure out that having 203 difficult steps then adding 24 more inspection steps to one person's procedure was no different than have a final inspection. The results were disasterous. The only thing you can do is push improvements upstream and hopefully you find a few product and process engineers that actually practice robust design. :bigwave:
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#6
I want to say up front I have a bias in favor of "correctly applied Lean." I am one of the original members of the ASQ Advanced Manufacturing Interest Group which has recently been granted "Forum" status by ASQ with a new name "Lean Enterprise Forum."

Sadly, just as in TQM, Zero Defects, Six Sigma and many other so-called Quality Initiatives, there is a propensity for "wanna-bes" to jump on the band wagon of the latest "buzz term" armed with only partial knowledge of the Body of Knowledge behind the buzz term.

It sounds to me like your organization has been saddled with one of these wanna-be characters who does NOT deserve the appellation "guru."

One of the important characteristics of Lean is to make sure product or service quality does NOT suffer. Eliminating inspections only comes AFTER preventive practices are in place which eliminate the NEED for inspections. In place of final inspections of "detection," Lean employs in-process inspections, SPC, and other techniques to ensure control of processes to produce conforming material.

This is a sad situation. Like some others here in the Cove, I fear this "semi-guru" will taint the well for a real guru to come in and salvage the situation.

Your instincts are correct, in my opinion, psyched1. What this character is doing is not real Lean. It is absolutely not Lean style to act like this:
"Our quality guru won't let anyone even look at the numbers or discuss how he got there."

Having said this, I need a lot more time to consider a plan of action for you and your coworkers to deal with top bosses to remedy the situation before your organization becomes too dysfunctional. This is definitely not a situation where I can pull a solution out of a hat.

I wish I could do more right now than merely offer confirmation of your view and sympathy for your situation.
 

psyched1

Involved In Discussions
#7
I agree with all the comments that inspection does not prevent defects but it does prevent the customer from receiving them.

We still 100% test all product leaving (gov. req.) When I started here the company rejected 20% of final goods, had no concept or tracking for what the problems were. We had a supplier base that was based on price (and who had the best sports tickets). We have improved to 4% at final and it was my hope that lean would push us further.

I have seen succesful lean companies in action but always they brought their quality people to the table with them. We have a lame duck QM who does not have the brass tacks to tell our owners what is really happening.

I do like the focus on one piece flow, balancing lines and the order that this method creates in assembly.

I'm not sold on reductions of inventory. When one machine goes down you end up shutting down your production base. So now you have to have a big inventory of replaceable machine parts rather than goods that could be sold.
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#8
As I wrote before - your instincts on Lean are good. Many wannabes try to squeeze delivery windows for components and materials so they carry zero inventory. The problem is the burden is merely pushed on to someone else, somewhere else. Worse, you have no control or visibility over the potential pitfalls at the "someone else."

You point out the penny-wise, pound foolish situation of idling a plant when a production machine accidentally breaks and skews the supply.

This doesn't mean that an organization can NOT work out an optimum mix of JIT delivery and inventory to keep the organization's production running. It's like any FMEA problem, you figure out what could go wrong and try to install processes to counter potential failures according to the degree of severity and frequency of occurrence. An important factor is continual monitoring and evaluation of processes in the Lean system to avoid surprises.

Referring to your earlier post: a big part of the monitoring is free and open communication among all the facets of the Lean organization - NO SECRETS!
 
P

Pataha

#9
I'm a bit confused.

O.K., I had to go to the public library to retrieve a book.
Plus, I ran the first post by one of my people. He thought - Is there more then what has been presented?

Now, for a few catch phrases -

Stealth quality versus no quality
Jennifer Kirley

Every associate is a quality manager!
Qualitygoddess

I do not believe that inspections are "muda", since Taiichi Ohno seem to spend alot of time designing inspection processses.

How does one reach zero defects without inspections?

From the founders of the Lean concepts, inspections are important.

So at this point, I refer you to Wes' earlier posting and one should determine what is this person attempting to accomplish?

I do not believe as indicated that it is a culture of lean.
 
E

Ernst Kong

#10
Reduction in inventory can bring great benefits to a company. Some articles about TPM or Toyota may help u understand better.

About your earlier quotes, I suspect no gap analysis is done before the decision to go lean is reached? It can takes ages to argue to go or not to go lean, but we need to understand where we are, what are needed to be done before the target is reached.

Going lean is fundamentally a number game, too often the top understand the benefits without realizing the perception change / cultural change is a tricky thing that may back fire!
 
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