Definition Sort vs. Rework - Differences and Definitions


Beth Workman

I am in a discussion with my internal auditor about the difference of a sort vs rework. Our NCR process defines rework as

"Any operation that results in the alteration or modification of a completed nonconforming part, or lot of nonconforming parts, necessary to deem the end product to be compliant with the customer?s specification."
And in many threads I have found a similar definition.

My auditor purports that a sort should be considered rework, however, I argue that it is not. Any nonconforming product is not altered or changed, it becomes scrap.

What are your thoughts?

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Re: Sort vs Rework

To me sort is the activity of separating good parts from questionable parts. It is possible that the sort will reveal only good parts. It would not be a good thing to call these rework.

Once the sort is complete, then disposition will have to be made of the questionable parts. One of those dispositions may be rework, as you defined it.

The act of sorting is not rework, in my opinion, because as I mentioned above, it is possible that all the parts will turn out to be conforming.


Re: Sort vs Rework

Rework is very specific to an operation, so I'm not sure if auditor's definition may work for you. And I think rework can occur and be handled from different operation/production stages e.g; pre-packaging, post-packaging. (shrug)

Jim Wynne

I think the distinction between reworking and sorting is worth preserving in most instances. There are places where any nonstandard operations are classified as "rework," which in those instances means "extra" work.

In your case, because you have a definition in place, and because it usually is important to distinguish between modification and sorting, the definition should speak for itself and the auditor is off base.


Quite Involved in Discussions
From a purely definition point of view they are different but I suppose I can see how some might view sort as a type of re-work.

IMHO you sort to separate one thing from another, you only re-work when a change to the item is made. These are different operations and to my mind are sufficiently distinct to prevent confusion. I guess any organization can define sorting as re-working if they so choose. A system needs definitions and within reason I think they can be defined to suit. Discuss it further with the auditor as it is your system's definition not his. If he can show something defined in the relevant standard to back his view then you can't argue your point but I reckon it is not there.

Bev D

Heretical Statistician
Super Moderator
in your case I would agree with you, but I'm curious: Why does this matter to the auditor? is it merely a semantical disagreement or are there consequences based on whether something is 'rework' or 'sort'.

A different perspective: in some industries, sorting involves opening finished goods packages or kits of materials. The bad stuff is removed and replaced and then the material has to be repackaged. in regulated industries requiring an agency to 'approve and release' material for sale, the reporting paperwork may have to adjusted or amended if already submitted. This is all 'rework' of work previously performed, even it isn't the technical 'manufacturing' work. And the common language used in these industries is that a 'sort' is a form of rework'. It doesn't sound like this is the case for your organization, but it is a valid alternative universe.


Semantics are always fun, but I agree with Bev that "sort is a form of rework".

If you truly pick apart your auditors definition IMHO when you decide to sort you are basing it on some criteria and that could be considered a lot or series of lots. The act of sorting is changing that lot (eliminating the bad) so their definition fits.

Does it really matter how you classify it? it really depends on the industry and the company culture. It is added work and hence expense and needs to be accounted for. How it's done is really up to the company.


Hi, Beth.

Perhaps you could try this approach:
Ask your Auditor if balancing their checkbook is the same as paying a bill.
Ask your Auditor if looking at their vehicle's fuel gauge is the same as refueling it.
Ask your Auditor if picking out fruit at the grocery store is the same as eating it.

Sorting out how much money you have does not pay the bills.
Sorting out how much gas you have does not fill the tank.
Sorting out which fruit looks best does not feed the hunger.
Any more than ...
Sorting out which product is nonconforming does not make it conform.

Each example is only an accounting (sort) of what you have, which still requires follow-up action (payment, refueling, eating, reworking) to resolve it.

Or ... you could just point to your definition and note the lack of any mention of sorting.

Beth Workman

Thanks to everyone, I'm sure that we will continue a good debate on this when we next meet.


Rubber, Too Glamorous?
Trusted Information Resource
There are industries in which sorting is a planned production operation performed because the state of the art of manufacturing does not produce 100% conforming product.

If the production sorting operation is duly completed and deemed to be necessary to repeat because the sampling plan rejected the lot, isn't that re-sorting a rework operation (repeating a production operation)? It seems to fit the ISO 9000 definition of rework in paragraph 3.6.7: "action on a nonconforming product to make it conform to requirements."

No disagreement with auditors or anything like that; I'm just preparing myself for the conversation should it arise. What do you think?
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