Lot Integrity - Process Steps where Identification is Lost (eg.: Quench)

P
#1
I have been assigned to tackle a major lot integrity problem at my facility. This is probably an attempt to bury me, but I am giving it my best shot. Here is my situation:

We produce few parts that have unique metallurgical characteristics (grain size, orientation, purity, alloy, etc.). These differences are critical and difficult to detect with the human eye.

We have many paperwork problems.

We have process steps were any attempt for identification is lost (e.g. oven, quench). Even in situations where location may be of help, we get human error problems.

I am not really sure where to begin. I have looked at mistake proofing, but its oriented towards processing not documentation. My company has already spent a fortune on final inspection (of course, final inspection never works). I want to eliminate the problem at the source, like a good quality guy.

What can I do? Any solutions out there (e.g. software, quality tools, etc)?

-Phil

[This message has been edited by Phil (edited 11-18-98).]
 
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D
#2
Can't you designate a lot number right from the beginning with the material included, such as a number with the alloy after it?
 
P
#3
Yes there is an alloy designation in the part number. My problem is not the actual ID, just maintaining its integrity through the process.
 
L

Leslie Garon

#4
Phli,

Have you thought of identified containers that can withstand the process, or id tags that remain with the product durring the different stages? You might also try signs designating that piece of equipment for a specific item at a specific stage in the process. Color coding can also be helpful. combinations of all the above can be advantageous. Just remember consistancy is the key.

Sounds to me like your problem isn't only how to ID but how to control the human factor. Human factors can only be put to rights one way, make a routine and back it up with discipline. Make the system real tight, then loosen it as the system becomes reliable. Take the human out of it. Take the attitude, you come to work to work, thus you follow the rules when at work or you don't work here. People have to know that they are expected to take it seriously.

You sound very frustrated, try taking a different approach to the problem. Talk to the folks actually working the process, see what they would suggest after first laying out what the end product must be ("this is where we have to get to"). This eleviates your put upon feelings and gives you support. Remember these problems are never easy, so recruit allies, laugh alot. Humor is the key to keeping people from beating eachother up and having hurt feelings. It may take awhile to find the correct solution might as well make it fun.

I hope this helps
 
D

Don Winton

#5
Phil,

I can relate to your situation. A semiconductor manufacturer presented me a similar situation some time ago. Once the wafers were diced into individual chips, the original traceability to the wafer was lost. They implemented a system that tracked the chips by unique serial numbers, but the numbers were placed on the chip handling devices (normally trays divided into sections), not the chips themselves. This caused several human errors when various chips were removed from the handling devices, then replaced in the wrong location. At this point, all traceability was lost.

You are on the right track (eliminating the problem at the source). From the brief description provided, it sounds like you are heat treating the units after processing (casting, machining or whatever). If this were the case, an indelible marking system would seem to be in order. Without knowing the details of the device itself, have you considered laser engraving prior to treatment? If there were a location on the device that could be engraved without affecting functionality, this would seem to be an ideal solution. Engraving can be very small, thus reducing affects on functionality and units could be engraved upon receipt. It would also provide traceability for field returns, if any. Also, review Leslie's and Jennifer's (the other post) suggestions. They seem to make good sense.

Regards,
Don
 
P
#6
I told you guys this was a doosie.

We produce very clean (can't be touched), fabricated metals. Its not really an assembly although we do have a two piece design (both pieces very clean).

We have tried the following:
paint pens (oven, quench removes the paint),

engravings (rolling and machining removes the engraving),

tags wont work (The product is very clean and cannot be touched during several stages of processing, tags cant survive some steps).

We segregate product in process with carts or between dividers on a single cart (traveler laying on top).

We have very intelligent, skilled folks working for us. I believe that no matter what your intentions, what your discipline, when your doing mundane work, with such complexity, your going to have human error.

I plan to do a PDSA as my next step. I am going to flow chart this thing and see if we can get creative with Poke Yoke.

Leslie-- I am going to consider your idea about using signs to designate placement of parts. Thank you ;)

Any other ideas?
 
E

eastick

#7
I have to do a similar thing here in a machine shop. Castings come in with heat numbers embossed on them. The castings are then fully machined in a lathe, then milled in a mill.

The lathe removes the casting heat number. So before we machine it off, we assign a serial number and use a hand vibro-engraver to put the s/n on after machining. An process control record maps s/n to heat number.

The mill has to nicely engrave (ie. look pretty) the serial number and drill a bunch of holes. Also drilling out the ugly hand-engraving.

Your answer? Use an appropriate ID method for *each* process. Stamp the part before heat treat; paint stick for rolling; etc. Yes it's a pain in the butt, but if you need something that works......
 
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