Operator's are not using Instructions!



I am looking for some tips to solve my problem. We are an assembly facility, and we assemble many different electronic products. A recurring problem we have is that the assemblers think they know how to build EVERYTHING, and don't look at their work instructions, drawings, or BOM. Needless to say, we have had several issues of product being assembled wrong.

I have spoken with the Supervisor, and he says "How can I tell these people to look at their drawings every day when I know they know how to build this stuff?". There is not much accountability here either. Each employee gets the same raise each year, regardless of the quality of their work. There are no employee reviews either, and even if there were, what difference does it make to them if they keep making mistakes? They aren't held responsible for what they do?

I have been developing the Quality System here for the last year, and we hope to be ISO 9001 compliant soon. What good are work instructions if people aren't going to use them? Will this cause a non-conformance if we were to be audited?

How can I get them to use their work instructions?!?!?

Thanks! Chickenlips (Becky):bonk: :smokin:
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Mike S.

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Dear Chick (pardon the bad pun -- no offense intended!),

Frustrating situation, huh? The short, simple answer is that you need to do an effective corrective action to address a recurring problem. That's the easy part, huh?

While on the surface it sounds like a clear case of hard-headed employees not following simple instructions, the Deming-supporting part of me says it is also possible that "the system" (management's responsibility) is at least partially at fault here. The no-accountability, no reviews/same raises to everyone, lack of supervisor concern statements you made makes warning bells go off in my head. I can envision this isuse having all sorts of ugly tentacles.

You know your company and people best, but here are some thoughts:

Is anyone (other than you) upset about this issue? Can you get any support from above if you dig into this problem and upset some folks in the process?

Maybe try to pull the workers and the supervisor together for a factual review of the problem and ask them their opinions on how they would propose to fix it -- they are much more likely to be receptive to solutions they are a part of. If this doesn't work, you might need to use a get tough approach, but before you do that I'd make sure you have the support from above if you need it. Good luck.

M Greenaway


Have you heard what Deming used to do with a bowl of red beads ?

Do you think a work instruction would have helped in that scenario ?

I suggest you quantify the rejects in terms of process capability, find root causes and then take actions to Poke Yoke the system.

I would imagine that the capability of the process is in the order of what you might expect where the only system control is a work instruction.

Assuring quality products is a complex system, not just a matter o fwriting an instruction, you have touched on a few things such as leadership, accountability, etc. All these things need addressing, there is no one simple answer.

Craig H.


You didn't mention what form the instructions are in. Are they easy to read? Accessable from the work station? In other words, how hard is it for them to use the instructions?

Another idea - I am told that the military requires soldiers to have "the book" present and open to the relevant procedure when they perform maintenence, particularly on aircraft. This removes some fear that peers will think looking at the book means one doesn't know what one is doing.


I like that one


That is a good point that you've brought up about people fearing looking like they don't know how to do their job if they use an instruction. It applies to just about anything that someone thinks will make them look silly or cowardly or less than perfect.

Good solution the military came up with.
Common problem...

The problem chickenlips describes is only too common.

Good comments all over, btw... I particularly like the military approach mentioned by Craig. I'd call that a typical military solution, but it may prove difficult to use it on civilians. They tend to react rather sourly to being ordered around like that.

Mikes approach is probably the way to success: Make people part of the solutions.



Quite Involved in Discussions
If the WI are not being followed, then you will get a CAR. Make sure that when you do the WIs that you get the operators to help write these.


Most of the Work Instructions for the assembly area are in the form of part drawings, showing detailed instructions of where each component is to go. For each order, the proper drawing is pulled out and placed on their cart with the components. Unfortunately, this is where it stays...on the cart. Each operator has input on the drawings, and the power to change them if needed through our ECR (Engineering Change Request) system. We have some product that is built daily, and some that is built only once per year. The products that are seldom built are the ones that really concern me.

I tried the approach that they MUST have the drawing out on their stand that is provided, and the Supervisor won't back me up. They have input with the content of their drawings and work instructions. I guess I'm going to have to try to get upper management support. I hate to go over the Supervisor's head, since that can cause some hard feelings.

Thank you for all of your suggestions so far!

Ken K

Chick?...c'mon guys, a little respect

I guess I'm going to have to try to get upper management support. I hate to go over the Supervisor's head, since that can cause some hard feelings.

Becky, if your going to management, do yourself a favor and go through the supervisor first. Sit him down and explain what your forced to do and why. That way he won't get blindsided and come looking for you.

Been there...not pretty!
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