Standardized Defects

Too often when corrective action is taken, the communication loop is not closed, turning containment into a frustrating, permanent practice. This Led Zeppelin clip captures the emotional side of those communication snafus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qone6HKhlRY.

Here are a few examples:

  • A production employee demonstrated for me how he searched for burrs on a ceramic bushing.  “The part drawing had a note that we should remove burrs here,” he said while pointing to a particular spot on the surface, “but I’ve worked here for three years and there were never any burrs.”  He went on. “I mentioned it to my supervisor, and after three weeks she discovered that the burr problem had been eliminated years ago, but the inspection note had been left on the print. The note was supposed to be a short-term fix,” he said, smiling. “Only took us a decade to correct it.”
  • A reverse condition occurred in my own factory when a previously manufactured part was outsourced to an external supplier.  The part, as produced by the new supplier, conformed to the purchase specifications, but it didn’t work in our product.  Informal revisions to the part spec hadn’t been communicated to engineering.  “When the part was made in-house,” a production team member confided, “we made a few undocumented corrections.”
  • Sometimes also the urgency to get a part into production will generate an expedient temporary communication on a drawing like “rework as needed.”  As a factory manager, I frequently viewed purchase and manufacturing drawings with notations that validated inspection and rework.  We didn’t always call it rework.  Terms like touch-up and grading spawned entire departments and accompanying ‘standards.’  The waste was invisible.  When we started removing the rework-as-needed language from drawings, we discovered that the provider had often not even been advised of the problem.   Communication breakdown.
  • "Yield” is another worrisome concept, one that when used as an ordering rule, automagically overproduces by plan to accommodate rather than attack defect waste.  Yield becomes another form of standardized defects.

These defects are surely not limited to the factory floor:

  • “The first thing I do with this collections report is correct the names and telephone numbers of the persons I’m supposed to call,” an accountant related to me.  “Why are the numbers wrong?”  I asked.  “Because the customer information is added by the sales department, and their contacts are not the ones who pay the bills.”“Have you asked them for help with this?” I asked.  “No,” was the reply.

Indeed, inspection astandarddefectsnd rework are commonplace for most computer reports, and most are just accepted as the standard.  How many reports can you think of that must be checked for correctness and completeness before they can be used?   These too are communication breakdowns: inadvertent but standardized and maddening defects.

“Communication breakdown, it's always the same....
Havin' a nervous breakdown, a-drive me insane....”

Do these kinds of communication breakdowns drive you insane?
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BTW:  July’s inaugural webinar, “Tea Time with the Toast Guy” was a great success: Over 75 attendees and some great feedback for future webinars. At the conclusion of the forty-minute webinar, a winner was selected to receive complimentary registration to the upcoming Northeast Region Shingo Conference. Learn more about the conference here.

Have you signed up for my next webinar entitled: Management Kaizen?  August 13 from 3:00 – 3:40 p.m.  I’ll be discussing a few improvements that only top managers can make. Here’s how to sign up and be entered for another complimentary conference registration drawing at the same time.  Hope to see you then. Read more and register

This entry was posted in old lean dude on July 22 , 2013.