Linggo, Setyembre 26, 2010

Your Career Questions Answered by Jolito Ortizo Padilla -Letter Sent by Quality Manager of Binzagr Lever Company-KSA

I have received many queries mostly from the Quality Control Department of MNC-Gulf Countries. I already answered some of the questions through their respective e-mails. For those I have not answered yet, I will try to send through your e-mails in a weeks time.

Letter sent to me by the Quality Control Manager of Binzagr Lever Company Ltd. KSA- "Why Inspection is Vital"

There is a great deal of emphasis within the quality management profession on quality assurance (preventive techniques) rather than quality control(corrective techniques). Inspection , in most cases , is seen as quality control;in other words it is not a way of adding value but rather is viewed as a cost to the business.

Deming said: " You cannot inspect quality into the product; it is already there." Well that's true enough -who am I to doubt Deming- but I'd like to put a little balance into an argument. While quality assurance is a great deal to strive for, there is often merit in doing at least some quality control; inspection still has a valid place in your quality toolbox.

Inspection act as safety net. Quality assurance should be delivering high quality , zero defects that you shoudn't need to check. But suppose it doesn't? Suppose something goes wrong? After all, you don't want your customers to be the first people to spot a problem, so inspection is your chance to find defects first and to fix them quickly so the faults are corrected at source.

Think of a typical problem you had with incoming materials or parts or even with something you've bought for your home. Did it take sophisticated , expensive , calibrated test equipment to spot a subtle defect or could you see it with moment's glance? In other words , would a simple inspection have found a problem? When I think back over my years of experience in the industry, this would be true for many of the defects I have encountered: they were obvious , so why did nobody find them before me?

A simple inspection can be very cost-effective as it can be done quickly compared to other screening techniques such as highly accelerated stress screening tests or soak testing. These can also be very effective but tie up expensive equipment for much longer periods of time.

First you ought to establish your inspection criteria. Do you have cosmetic standards considering problems such as scratches, discoloration and misalignment? You need to have something in place that determines what is visually acceptable and what is not and this should be agreed with your suppliers in order to avoid arguments. You need specifications or drawings if you're measuring things.

You may need measuring and inspection tools including simple magnifiers or optical inspection systems. Digital cameras are a huge asset and you should be keeping records and metrics (key performance indicators) of your inspection results so you can monitor whether quality is getting better or worse over time and do something about it.

A defined inspection process is also beneficial. This helps to avoid the problem of people always inspecting their own work (which can suffer from them having consistent blind spots), missing out key things you want to have inspected or suffering from inspection fatigue, whereby a small number of defects among many good parts don't get spotted at all. If 100% inspection is not desirable , why not use an acceptable quality limit scheme (a contractually agreed limit on the potential number of defects in a batch)?

And here's a thought-why carry out inspection of incoming goods or materials at all? Get your suppliers to do the inspection and prove to you they've done it, using methods such as digital photo records or measurements.As well as saving you money, it shortens their own quality feedback loop and encourages them to improve quality at the source.

To close , let's consider some further words of wisdom from Deming. He said: " You are never better off after the fire department leaves than you would have been if they weren't needed in the first place." But that doesn't mean we should disband the fire service or throw away our smoke detectors and rely solely on fire risk assessment. Inspection has a useful place in ensuring quality and can highly cost-effective. Are you making the best use of it?

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