There is one thing that could be incredibly easy to do but is also incredibly challenging to practice. I am talking about stopping the line when we are producing out of specifications. People don’t like the responsibility of stopping the lines because they are afraid of the supervisor reaction. In most industries, the throughput per day is one of the most important performance indicators, so when we talk about stopping the line they supervisors go nuts!
During our lean introduction class we discuss the lean building blocks and obviously, we mention “Quality at the Source”. We explained why we should not pass any bad products to the next station and while everybody agrees it makes sense when we go back to the production line, some people just don’t stop the line!
From this group, I know they split into two smaller groups: those that are thinking about the daily production numbers and those who are just not used to work with quality in their minds. Today I will talk about the second group. In traditional factories, people learn the quality department is responsible for quality, is not their “thing”. When we switch from daily throughput and efficiency to OEE as the performance indicator usually people start to understand better why creating quality is so important.
For our packaging department for example, the extra effort of not sending bad product to the next stations has minimized the help product on their area to the point on which they have been operating for the last six months with 100% First Time Quality Rate. That quality rate is definitely a boost for their OEE.
Before they understood the concept of detect – stop and fix; it happened very often that operators let go defects to the next station, and sometimes defects even make it two or three stations down the line before somebody detected them. After training and a daily follow-up, people started to put more attention to details and to inspect their own production. After they learned to detect and stop, the fixing part was easy. Those operators mistakes and lack of attention lead to hold product and downtime while clearing the line and/or reworking the bad products. They learned that keeping the quality as their main focus lead to excellent quality rate which also helps to improve their daily throughput by eliminating downtime related to line clearance and reworking.
It takes time for people to understand and live by our motto: “Practice teamwork: Detect, Stop and Fix – Do not pass defects to the next station”. The temptation to look to the other side and pretend that “I don’t know” is there, supervisors and managers need to follow-up every day and motivate people to continue this new way of doing things.
“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Jobs