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The Value and Effectiveness of In Process Inspection

R

robind

#1
This is my first post... let's see how this goes:bigwave:

I've worked in a ballscrew manufacturing plant for going on four years now. When I took over as Quality Manager, I didn't make many changes to the system that was in place. Partially due to management resistance, and partially due to the fact that the system was working pretty well. We had low or no customer returns every month.

Now, we have been purchased by a large corporation and they have decided to make the operators more accountable for their work. I'm all for this- Accountability is great. Here is the issue - They have decided that Quality will no longer be performing any in process inspections or first piece inspections. The operator will fill out the section of the certificate of conformance for what they have machined or assembled, and my job now is to make sure people sign off on what they have done, and that their paperwork is in order before it ships.

So far we haven't had a huge amount of customer returns and the scrap rate hasn't changed drastically yet, but I am concerned about not having a second set of eyes at least periodically in the process.

Has anybody else used this type of a system and can it work? Any tips?
 

Bev D

Heretical Statistician
Staff member
Super Moderator
#2
having the operators responisble for in-process inspection (first and last piece, SPC, etc.) isn't all that uncommon. Typically it works well unless you have aproduction mangement team that only cares about meeting build plan. I have seen and worked in the situation you describe where there is no 'final QA Acceptance' and where there is. The final set of eyes is usally dictated by the Customer (e.g. Aerospace) or by chronic poor quality gettng shipped.

The ideal situation is where there is no second set of eyes.
 
R

robind

#3
Thanks Bev- That makes me feel a little better I guess. Everyone in the shop is pretty skeptical of how successful the change will be. I read some other threads that were on a similar topic and they also had some good points.

Thanks again!
 

Ninja

Looking for Reality
Trusted
#4
Hi Robin, welcome to the Cove!

I'll second BevD.

At the risk of changing your topic...(I hope I don't)...the basic concept is the same for the question "Is Inspection Value Added or NVA?" There are a number of threads here about that which show that the split of opinion is 'round about 50/50.

Coming from the point of view that inspection is NOT value added, minimizing it to "where needed" would be the next logical step.

If you remove a layer of whatever you want to call it (inspection, second pair of eyes, double check, verify, validate, certify, confirm, etc.) and the performance metrics like customer satisfaction don't change...then I guess it wasn't "needed where" it was.

My company makes a number of types of product. Some are fully tested twice (In-process and QC verify), some are tested in process with certain tests witnessed by QC, some are in process testing only.
Starting with everything tested twice, we've systematically determined which things actually benefited from the double check, and which things didn't need it.
Removing the ones that were not "where needed" we've saved quite a bit of money and had no change in customer satisfaction.
Sounds like you are following that same route.
 

somashekar

Staff member
Super Moderator
#5
This is my first post... let's see how this goes:bigwave:

I've worked in a ballscrew manufacturing plant for going on four years now. When I took over as Quality Manager, I didn't make many changes to the system that was in place. Partially due to management resistance, and partially due to the fact that the system was working pretty well. We had low or no customer returns every month.

Now, we have been purchased by a large corporation and they have decided to make the operators more accountable for their work. I'm all for this- Accountability is great. Here is the issue - They have decided that Quality will no longer be performing any in process inspections or first piece inspections. The operator will fill out the section of the certificate of conformance for what they have machined or assembled, and my job now is to make sure people sign off on what they have done, and that their paperwork is in order before it ships.

So far we haven't had a huge amount of customer returns and the scrap rate hasn't changed drastically yet, but I am concerned about not having a second set of eyes at least periodically in the process.

Has anybody else used this type of a system and can it work? Any tips?
Robind ... Welcome to the COVE.
A very interesting post from you.
First up .... Must compliment your new large corporation.
Well, basically no one comes in to do a mistake and all want to do a good job.
Having said that defects still do come up, with or without the second eye or third eye.
All these are still people.
A good belief is to believe that the person who does the job is the best person to inspect that. This prompts one to rise the levels of the people. This makes one responsible when he knows that he is accountable and he is trusted. It is a culture to be built in. It need the guts and the conviction that people come in to do a good job and not to do a wrong stuff.
Your large corporation seems to have it in them. This is a platform for you to cash upon and rise the people's levels.
After all people are people. It is up to you how you want to tag them.
One Responsible operator
OR
One Operator and One Inspector
.
..
...
Good luck, and you are lucky to have such a platform offered to you.
 

John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
#6
robind,

Welcome to the Cove and to the common practice of engaging operators in more of their work including the in-process inspections. Have you updated the management system to help the operators to do this well?

How are you planning to redeploy the talents of the quality staff who used to do these inspections: training, problem solving, mistake proofing, auditing or something else?

This is a good move but requires everyone to do their bit to make it work well. BTW, I admire your wisdom in keeping the system stable instead of making changes to boost your ego.

John
 

Mike S.

An Early 'Cover'
Trusted
#7
Robind -- yes it can work, IF the culture is right, if the operators are properly trained and if they know that Management really and truly considers quality to be important.

When it does not work it is almost always Management's fault -- when Management's words and deeds do not mesh, and while they say "quality is of utmost importance" or something similar, but their actions tell an entirely different story. And in this case, the "second set of eyes" system often does not help a lot, either.
 
P

PaulJSmith

#8
I'll throw my proverbial hat in with the others here. I've worked at a couple of places (one automotive and one aerospace) where Quality was not allowed to touch the product with measurement tools without the agreement of the union (?!?!?!). It was what it was. However, it worked, because the operators had to take ownership of the product and any issues it may have. As it has been well noted above, though, it takes the right management mindset to make this work well. And, they must give the operators the tools and support they need to succeed.
 
#9
Welcome, robind!

Like the others, (Bev D, Ninja, et al.), having the operator be responsible for verifying the quality of their work isn't uncommon, and can even be beneficial. If there are concerns about the transition, it may make sense to have the QA department audit FAI/in-process inspections. Audit can mean repeating the actual measurements, and frequency of audits can decrease or increase based on what you find.

I think the "who" is less important than the "what".

Something else to consider; process monitoring is a broad thing. It ranges from proactively monitoring only process inputs (this adds the most value after DOE tying process inputs to process outputs), SPC of a critical process output or two (more than two becomes cumbersome), FAI, end of run acceptance sampling or any combination there-of.

John B's question about redeploying the QA resources is something to consider. Once you're free of the daily part verification, you may be able to re-focus and effect broad significant change.


When the paradigm shifts, everyone resets to zero. New ownership means the iron is hot. Time to strike.

Good Luck! Please keep us posted on your progress.
 
R

robind

#10
Thanks Everyone for the advice!

Since I am the entire Quality Department, this change has allowed me to focus on specific problems that have plagued the process and give the issues the due diligence they deserve instead of the time constrained quick fixes they have received in the past.

At the moment we are trying to redo and update our Quality Manual as well as get the processes that we use documented.

One of the things I have been considering though to make up for the loss of previous inspections is random part sampling inspections, but I am also unsure if this is effective either. It seems more like needle in a haystack sampling and that the time spent on them may be again better utilized elsewhere.
 
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