Need Continuous improvement Suggestions - Small (30 of us) all-CNC machine shop

SpinDr99

Involved In Discussions
#1
Hi All,

Thanks in advance for any suggestions/advice you can offer. I'm in a small (30 of us) all-CNC machine shop. We do no design work as we produce to customer samples or sketches/drawings. Post-delivery activities are also non-applicable. Often we generate drawings from samples, and sketches/drawings often have missing/incorrect specifications. We have ISO-9001:2008 at the request of one customer and are transitioning to 2015.

First piece inspections are performed and any out of tolerance or near the edge of tolerance dimensions are corrected by adjusting the CNC program. This corrects the condition and only once have I seen a third piece submitted for inspection. In-process rejections rarely happen, and as many of our customers will accept out-of-tolerance since the parts will function for their need. Often this is done verbally and undocumented.

As for customer complaints and returns (a rare occurrence), I don't always get to see them and have explained that these need to be documented so we have a baseline and can show improvement. Still an uphill battle.

I'm at a loss on how to show continuous improvement considering the extremely low rejection rate and any in-process rejections are brought to the GM who often OK's the parts in question, as he knows the application of the parts from the customer. NCR's are few and far between. Corrective Actions usually come from the CB or one customer when they were on-site before my arrival.

I was brought in (as the QM by title) primarily to be the Management Representative and ISO SME. We did well on the surveillance audit and I'm finding it difficult to determine manufacturing KPI's and opportunities for CI. Some will need to come from top management.

I currently track First Piece first-time pass rate, Internal and External NCR's and customer complaints as KPI's and with very low numbers, it's not going to be easy showing improvement. Has anyone any suggestions for opportunities for CI which I can run with on my own, as support in effecting the QMS is more infrequent than an NCR?
 
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Golfman25

Trusted Information Resource
#2
Hi All,

Thanks in advance for any suggestions/advice you can offer. I'm in a small (30 of us) all-CNC machine shop. We do no design work as we produce to customer samples or sketches/drawings. Post-delivery activities are also non-applicable. Often we generate drawings from samples, and sketches/drawings often have missing/incorrect specifications. We have ISO-9001:2008 at the request of one customer and are transitioning to 2015.

First piece inspections are performed and any out of tolerance or near the edge of tolerance dimensions are corrected by adjusting the CNC program. This corrects the condition and only once have I seen a third piece submitted for inspection. In-process rejections rarely happen, and as many of our customers will accept out-of-tolerance since the parts will function for their need. Often this is done verbally and undocumented.

As for customer complaints and returns (a rare occurrence), I don't always get to see them and have explained that these need to be documented so we have a baseline and can show improvement. Still an uphill battle.

I'm at a loss on how to show continuous improvement considering the extremely low rejection rate and any in-process rejections are brought to the GM who often OK's the parts in question, as he knows the application of the parts from the customer. NCR's are few and far between. Corrective Actions usually come from the CB or one customer when they were on-site before my arrival.

I was brought in (as the QM by title) primarily to be the Management Representative and ISO SME. We did well on the surveillance audit and I'm finding it difficult to determine manufacturing KPI's and opportunities for CI. Some will need to come from top management.

I currently track First Piece first-time pass rate, Internal and External NCR's and customer complaints as KPI's and with very low numbers, it's not going to be easy showing improvement. Has anyone any suggestions for opportunities for CI which I can run with on my own, as support in effecting the QMS is more infrequent than an NCR?
Widen your focus. Look at your shop as a whole. Things like on time delivery, lead times and throughput. You have any bottle necks? Improve those. Get suggestions from the operators. Setup reduction is always a good one. Or robotic machine tending. Good luck.
 

normzone

Trusted Information Resource
#3
"Get suggestions from the operators"

The verbal approvals of nonconforming material by an SME are understandable, but may come back to bite you someday. Good luck with that one.

"Get suggestions from the operators"

Did I mention that the operators probably have some useful input?
 

Eredhel

Quality Manager
#4
You will likely have a unique QMS setup when it's all said and done and if you're a quality mindset person be prepared for some frustrations along the way :). But it's doable and you may be able to insert yourself into some things in the name of metrics, and that will help a lot. Look at what you and the others in your organization are doing and track it. Whatever "it" is. Maybe convince them to let you track out of tolerance acceptance on inspection forms for later use. Scrap and rework percentages are an easy way, if you can get into the process to start data for metrics later. Also don't be afraid to let the standard be the bad guy and drive some of what you need.

You're going to find you need to change 500+ things. But pick a handful and work at it. Keep that up and in a few years you'll be surprised how far they've come. I know this from experience :). I was employee #8, and now we're almost at 50.
 

SpinDr99

Involved In Discussions
#5
This is SUCH a unique operation. I tried tracking on-time delivery, but if a customer calls with a "must have" situation, it's common for setups to be broken down and a new job setup at almost any time. I've had operators complain that while working on one job, it's been interrupted 3 times for a "must have" call. Customers understand that, and it's a given that customer planning has much to be desired. One of our biggest strengths is that we're very responsive to their needs.
 
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SpinDr99

Involved In Discussions
#6
Operators just go with the flow. Keeps the customer and management happy. Besides, some operators are little more that "button pushers" and not true machinists.
 
Last edited:

SpinDr99

Involved In Discussions
#7
Eredhel:

I've been letting the CB Auditor be the bad guy explaining that in-process needs to be done (an Observation during their initial certification audit), and parts/criticality/quantities vary so much that we've scrapped sampling. It wasn't happening according to the plan, so as long as we're doing SOMETHING, it's not a nonconformity. I explain what I need to have to show the auditor or "What will you tell the auditor when they ask about the low rejection rate? Nobody's THAT good."

Things are so loose here, I can't get operators to do PM on the machines (not that they knew what "PM" was before I got here), so it's being delegated to Lead/Setup people. I try to use the logic that it will prevent or at least lessen breakdowns and downtime.

Tracking out of tolerance acceptance occurrences can't happen if I don't know about it. Good thought, and I tried that but soon realized they're still in pre-ISO mode. Check with the boss and do what he says.
 

normzone

Trusted Information Resource
#9
Yeah, small shops come with their own fun.

Operators cut a bunch of pieces and select the best one for the "first article" sample verifying it's okay to do the run.

On Time Delivery is important - track it publicize it, and track the top five or so reasons why it didn't happen. Report it honestly, don't try to hide any thing or shield anybody. No blame required - explain to your crew that these are common issues every shop has and that the numbers are what they are. If somebody decides to improve the process you'll have data to support that, or the same data can show your auditor that it's no big deal and not worthy of drama.

Re the requirement for in process inspection, I understand it as a QA guy but what it the external auditor's point of view regarding it being necessary? Did they quote chapter and verse from the standard, or do they just want it ?
 

Golfman25

Trusted Information Resource
#10
This is SUCH a unique operation. I tried tracking on-time delivery, but if a customer calls with a "must have" situation, it's common for setups to be broken down and a new job setup at almost any time. I've had operators complain that while working on one job, it's been interrupted 3 times for a "must have" call. Customers understand that, and it's a given that customer planning has much to be desired. One of our biggest strengths is that we're very responsive to their needs.
So what. How do all those "break ins" affect your on-time delivery? Lots of improvement opportunities right there.
 
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