Watch out for this Manufacturing Trap!

When there's a  customer detected quality event, all hell can break loose.  There's missed customer commitments, potential penalties, a loss of reputation and trust that can hurt your relationship with your client, etc.  This story is about a facility that had such an event, and was looking to make a change to ensure the problem never happened again.  Unfortunately they fell into an all too common trap.  In the absence of data, they made some assumptions.  They formed an opinion about what the problem actually was.  And that opinion had them spending money, time and resources while increasing their cost per part that didn't necessarily address the root cause.  

Containing a problem is completely different than solving it.  Containment tries to keep the problem from happening vs identifying the true root cause and controlling the variables that lead to the condition.  Often containment just delays or masks the event, but either way it drives up the cost of the manufacturing process while still leaving the system at risk.    When a process has been running well for several years and then runs into an issue, the process is capable, however something has changed that has caused the issue.  Identifying that change and then putting in the controls to ensure it doesn't re-occur has to be part of a World Class Manufacturing mind set.  To be competitive globally, we need to eliminate waste and wasteful activity from our manufacturing processes and continue to improve over time.  Containing problems vs fixing them, introduces waste and waste-ful activity and tend to stack on themselves over time.  


How to contain a problem is really just an opinion of what to do to address the issue, while true process optimization is understanding your KPI's measuring them at an appropriate frequency and then continuing to  adjust the process to reduce the total cost.  


Containment is quick and easy in that it doesn't require the rigor of data collection and interpretation, however its often very wrong, and that's why it's a trap we spring on ourselves when we don't ask all the right questions or take the time necessary to collect the relevant information.   


 “Without data, you're just another person with an opinion.”.  Dr. Deming 


What's you opinion or have you got some data to share?