The Pull System and how Quality Control fits in

A

AVCM Bill

#1
I have a question about the Pull System and how Quality Control fits in. We have a new VP and he is really breathing some new life into the company. One of they many ideas he has introduced us to, is the pull system. I am very excited and ready to help incorporate it in to our daily routine.
That being said when it comes to Quality I think that production and Quality should remain independent of each other. The performance of our job should not be influenced by the production schedule.
So here is where my problem lies. If a part has to ship by 1400 and its not to shipping by 1300, the shipping guy calls to see if Quality has it. If we don't, then the baton is passed and we go to the production guy to see if he has it and so on and so on. With my belief system on how Quality operates, I am struggling with my inspectors running around looking for parts. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
 
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Michael_M

Trusted Information Resource
#2
The performance of our job should not be influenced by the production schedule.
Not sure if this is what you are asking, but scheduling does set your job. If you have 3 parts in front of you all needing inspection, you try to do the one(s) that are needed sooner. If you have a part in final inspection that does not ship for 3 weeks, it should be done last (assuming it will not take 3 weeks to inspect).

Quality and manufacturing work together for the overall benefit of the company (that does sound a little like a slogan doesn't it) but in general this is true.

To me, quality fits in where quality is needed within the organization. If that means in-process inspection and final inspection, then that is where they fit in. If quality sets the inspection criteria for others to follow, then that works too. In this case, I would get with the new VP and see what his vision is and where quality fits into it.
 
N

ncwalker

#3
Let's step back and talk about hamburgers, because we all have ordered them.

If the hamburger joint were a PUSH system, once they defrosted 50 lbs of beef, they would make 50 lbs worth of hamburgers. Regardless if the customers were ordering chicken nuggets or not. They would "push" the hamburgers because it is really efficient for them to not have to change things around in the kitchen. And you may be told "sorry, no nuggets, cheeseburger only."

In a PULL system, they are keeping an eye on what is exiting the trays on the heat lamps and defrosting stuff in accordance with what is being drawn. And that dovetails nicely with just in time. (But DOES require production changeovers increasing, which is why lean has SO much focus on quick changeovers.)

What you need to do is figure out how to get your quality process as PART of that "pull chain," part of that "natural flow." Because a pull system/JIT system gone awry always results in a group or groups running around like maniacs propping it up.

If you are talking about "final inspection" or "dock audit" before shipping and not in process checks (because I would tell you something different for them) then you need to get the shipping area really linear and organized in lanes. If you have to go vertical due to floor space, then columns. But you need the product where your inspectors can get at it and you aren't playing the "please pull this box down for me" game with the fork truck operators. Couple this with a simple "quality kanban card" where once the lane is loaded, the box you are going to sample has a red card put on it, which you then flip to green, your guys just walk the ends of the lanes looking for red cards. I have even seen this implemented with a dual colored wire tag where the head (near the wire) was green and the tail red with a perforated separation. The inspector simply tore the red end off leaving the green behind.

If you really are tight with floor space, then you need to get into the "pull" lane in "the system." On the router, etc. OR, the entire batch is labeled one way EXCEPT for the box(es) containing the parts to be sampled. Those are labeled different and when done, moved to the QC area, with the bulk going to the shipping area. Shipping is then trained to ONLY ship if the "special box" diverted to QC is at the head of the draw lane. And your groups moving it there signifys this.

It can also be solved in a computerized system with a "OK to ship" field. But those systems rarely work 100%. Think poka-yoke. What can be done to prevent an "unapproved lane" from being loaded? A metal plate covering the fork truck access points on the pallet with a lock?

Long story short, you need to get into the chain of the pull system. Go to the hamburger joint WITH your shipping folks for lunch and say "pretend these are our widgets, what can we learn here?" Hamburger joint chains have it dialed in. If you REALLY want to see a stunning system, go look at a Waffle House. :)
 

Golfman25

Trusted Information Resource
#4
I have a question about the Pull System and how Quality Control fits in. We have a new VP and he is really breathing some new life into the company. One of they many ideas he has introduced us to, is the pull system. I am very excited and ready to help incorporate it in to our daily routine.
That being said when it comes to Quality I think that production and Quality should remain independent of each other. The performance of our job should not be influenced by the production schedule.
So here is where my problem lies. If a part has to ship by 1400 and its not to shipping by 1300, the shipping guy calls to see if Quality has it. If we don't, then the baton is passed and we go to the production guy to see if he has it and so on and so on. With my belief system on how Quality operates, I am struggling with my inspectors running around looking for parts. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
Your obligation is to do what is best for the company. Production and quality must work hand in hand. The worst thing you can do is create artificial barriers between departments (i.e.; finger pointing). That means if you have to "run around" looking for parts to get a shipment out, then that's what you do. Ideally, your system will be designed to minimize that running around, but it does happen. Good luck.
 
A

AVCM Bill

#5
Golfman25,

I could not agree more, and I do put the company first, just struggling with breaking 30 years of ideals when it comes to QA. Thanks again for your response and perspective.
 
A

AVCM Bill

#6
Michael M, and NCWalker,

Thanks for your insight full reply's. Like I told Golman25, I am doing my very best to make this work. Our new VP deserves that. Just struggling breaking 30 years of old ideals. Old habits are some times hard to break, specially when they have worked so well for so long. AVCM Bill
 

Miner

Forum Moderator
Staff member
Admin
#7
Consider moving your quality system further upstream and more preventive in nature to reduce/eliminate the need for final inspection.

Apply Lean to your inspections. In one situation, I was faced with ~ 30% of my inspectors retiring over a year. Rather than replacing them, we reviewed the inspection plans versus actual quality issues and eliminated over 50% of the characteristics inspected. Most were characteristics driven by the design rather than the manufacturing process, and all had gone more than 5 years with zero rejects.
 

Eredhel

Quality Manager
#8
I have recently changed my entire approach to inspections. In the past I was used to doing a bulk sample inspection after the job was complete. Now we are doing the sample inspection at the machines along with random inspections at the machine.

I find final dimensions and where they are at each operation and tackle it there. This is still very much in the infant stage here so I can't swear it will be the final solution. But I would say it is worth stepping back and rethinking how you do your inspections.
 

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
#9
I have a question about the Pull System and how Quality Control fits in. We have a new VP and he is really breathing some new life into the company. One of they many ideas he has introduced us to, is the pull system. I am very excited and ready to help incorporate it in to our daily routine.
That being said when it comes to Quality I think that production and Quality should remain independent of each other. The performance of our job should not be influenced by the production schedule.
So here is where my problem lies. If a part has to ship by 1400 and its not to shipping by 1300, the shipping guy calls to see if Quality has it. If we don't, then the baton is passed and we go to the production guy to see if he has it and so on and so on. With my belief system on how Quality operates, I am struggling with my inspectors running around looking for parts. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
I'm going to supply a little different spin, based upon my stats background. In order for Pull (AKA Just in Time) systems to work, the processes involved (and this includes the Supplier) need to be VERY stable AND predictable. That way you can predict when you should re-order while minimizing the chance of stock out in supply. Also, the same works for YOUR customer - you want to exactly meet the demand schedule of the customer.

QA is just as part of the process as anything else. If inspection is indeed needed, then that time needs to be built into the planning and scheduling process. If parts are predictably rejected, that needs to be built into the planning and scheduling, at least until the issue can be FIXED. Part of lean is getting rid of non-value added steps, and generally inspection falls under non-value added except for very high risk items, and definitely re-work and/or loss of rejected items is Waste. But first, you need to be able to PREDICT.
 
N

ncwalker

#10
I have recently changed my entire approach to inspections. In the past I was used to doing a bulk sample inspection after the job was complete. Now we are doing the sample inspection at the machines along with random inspections at the machine.

I find final dimensions and where they are at each operation and tackle it there. This is still very much in the infant stage here so I can't swear it will be the final solution. But I would say it is worth stepping back and rethinking how you do your inspections.
I have implemented this scheme above you describe at countless suppliers. It will be your final solution. It works VERY well. *IF* the habits can be broken.

The "at the machine" system as opposed to the "on the dock" system is superior. Here's my prediction on your implementation ....

You are going to, initially, go crazy with small containment exercises as your "at the machine" system gels into place. Why? It will find these spills at the machine and you will have to run down WIP until you find the head of the snake. You're going to get a lot of practice at this. And everyone is going to think it is an interruption and a giant pain. For operations where leadership does not have the fortitude, this is where they fail and they go back to old ways.

But if you stay diligent, you are going to:
1) Really look at your opcard system - how WIP is labeled and kept organized on the floor - and if you have an open mind and think outside the box (yes, I said it, an over used buzzword, don't hate me) you will improve that. And your containment's will get easier.
2) You will realize that NOT having statistically stable process is very painful. And if you play THAT card right, you can teach operations what all these control charts and pre-control methods are for. Instead of them thinking it is something they have to do to make the customer happy.

My last piece of advice - when one of my suppliers does this right and reaps the big changes, in almost all cases, they do it by really involving the FLOOR. Operators, supervisors, quality techs, schedulers, inspectors - you lay out to them what the end goal is which is:

"Move inspection from the dock audit to inprocess checks that are effective. Saving us wasted time making scrap we catch too late and keeping us from working you guys every damn Saturday to catch up the missed production."

Then take their suggestions on how to do it simply. Guide them a bit, you do NOT want chart after chart popping up in process until it takes a guy a shift to keep them all updated. You want simple metrics. Draw it from them and get THEIR buy in. That's how you foster ownership on the floor. Without this, whatever you push on them will not get support. Buy them lunch for the meetings. A free lunch goes a LOOOOOONG way.

But very much yes - moving from "check when we're done" to "check as we go" is the right direction. All my suppliers that get this? They're making some bank and their ppms are low.
 
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