Product Inspection Strategy

A frequent question account managers receive is how to employ an inspection strategy to identify issues early and continue to ensure that product meets specifications.  Most agree that the tangible and intangible costs associated with poor quality support a preemptive strategy. The answer isn’t necessarily a simple one due to the variances involved in product specific requirements.  But, a general method of attack is suggested here:

 

Inspection Plan Development
A good plan is only as good as its foundation, so a comprehensive and detailed product specification is critical to the success of the overall strategy.  Pro QC often assists clients with this documentation creation and also uses it internally to direct engineers on-site.  A good plan incorporates anything that will affect the salability and performance of the product.

 

First-Article Inspections
Pro QC inspects first-article samples prior to volume production.  That means the product specifications are being met and reengineering won’t be necessary at an inconvenient point of time in the future.

 

In-Process Inspections
These on-site inspections evaluate samples of your products selected during the manufacturing process.  It confirms the quality of your product and allows any necessary changes to be addressed early on.  Incorporating these inspections reduces rework time and costs.

 

Pre-Shipment Inspections
During a pre-shipment inspection, engineers verify that the finished goods confirm to your specifications.  A representative sample is chosen randomly from the lot using a sampling plan such as ANSI Z1.4. The criteria is used to determine sampling levels and accept/reject determinations.

 

Inspection schedules are dependent on factors such past performance, so costs associated with preventative action are also reduced as performance becomes predictable and/or stable.  Continuous improvement and consistent results means investing in quality throughout the process and avoiding associated risks and cost in the future.

Now on Facebook…

We are excited to say that our Facebook page is up and going.  We’re hoping our presence here will connect our global team and serve to educate others regarding what it is we do and why we’re the best at it.  Of course, we hope to use this venue as a way to further contribute to raising the voice of quality and sharing industry related tidbits. Feedback and “likes” are always welcome and appreciated!

Memorial Day Weekend – Clearwater Beach, Florida

Memorial Day is celebrated in the United States as a national holiday on the last Monday each May.   Once known as Decoration Day, the holiday weekend is traditionally “a day of reflection and recognition commemorating all U.S. Service Members who have died in military service.”  Today, Americans really dedicate the day to all those who have or are serving in the military.

The holiday weekend is also considered the start of summer for Floridians, which means plenty of sunshine, backyard BBQs and beach adventures.  Our Sales & Marketing Director, Jeffrey Moellering, is based in Clearwater, Florida.  He’s also a talented photographer that’s been taking some great local shots lately!  Here are a couple we would like to share with everyone abroad… Memorial Day 2011, Florida style…

In 5 words or less, describe what you do…

I posted this inquiry to the ASQ LinkedIn Group some time ago and have seen an overwhelming number of responses from a variety of industry perspectives… Over 450 as of right now! Some of my favorite posts so far include:

  • “Extend and improve lives”
  • “Plan, measure, analysis, approve, repeat”
  • “Stop bad things from happening”
  • “Create joy through quality”
  • “Building bridges between quality and leadership”

I’ve enjoyed the responses in this discussion so much that I reached out to a few people on the Pro QC team in the US and Taiwan to see how they would respond. It’s no surprise that their responses mirror that of the organization very nicely… We really do have a passionate group of quality professionals!

Michael L. Hetzel (VP/Americas, USA) – “Reduce global supply chain risks”

Jeffrey Moellering (Sales & Marketing Director, USA) – “Drive complete customer success”

Nancy Barroso (Account Manager, USA & Mexico) – “Reduce risk and cost”

Weiwei Lin (Regional Operations Manager, USA) – “Your QC partner”

Fernando Rodriguez (Account Manager, Taiwan) – “Manage client accounts at Pro QC”

Russ McClay (IT Manager, Taiwan) – “Direct the Pro QC IT team”

Joanne Tseng (Office Manager, Taiwan) – “Providing best cooperation and cooperation”

Bruno Singier (Sales & Marketing Director Europe, Middle East/Africa & Asia, Taiwan) – “Business development for Pro QC”

I’ve found LinkedIn to be an excellent resource for discussion within the quality community.  Join us in the Pro QC International group.  We frequently participate in many of the other quality related discussion groups as well, including ASQ’s.

Quality tools beyond Pareto, PDCA and root cause analysis…

If asked what your favorite quality tools are, you’d likely tell me Pareto, flowcharts, PDCA or root cause analysis.  I know this because I’ve recently reached out via Pro QC’s social network to get some insight.  It seems these tools are also the very same ones I’m most often working with… And, I know there’s more out there and wanted to expand my repertoire through an ongoing effort of trial and error.

I’ve reviewed the Quality Toolbox in the past and do believe this is the ultimate source on the topic.  And, anything not immediately understandable there can easily be Googled.   It’s really just a matter of taking an extra moment or two to pick the best tool for the specific problem.  It’s that “extra moment” that gets you when there’s a to-do list screaming for attention on the other side of the desk!

Dedicating some time to rediscovering existing quality tools that I can use in new ways has given me a few new favorites.  These include:

Fishbone Diagram (Ishikawa) – One of the Seven Basic Tools of Quality, this is a popular choice for identifying as many possible causes for an effect or problem.  Our engineers use it quite often in the field, but I’ve only recently realized there are so many more applications than originally thought.  I’ll admit the feature I favor most is its simplicity.  It mirrors a customizable checklist that adds the additional benefit of direction.  Focusing on people, methods, machines, materials, measurements and environment organizes information very well.  Rather than sticking too long on one topic, I’ve found just getting it all there at first and then attacking them individually generates more ideas. Try it as a tool for identifying the root cause of a reoccurring product defect.

5W2H Method (5 Why Analysis) – I love this method of asking questions about a process or problem! I’ve noticed its return to many of the business textbooks and can’t think of a more fun way of getting some really constructive brainstorming going.  I’ve seen it work brilliantly now both in the classroom and during professional meetings.  I’ve also started using it to help me organize and research articles. I think there’s something reminiscent of grade school that’s fun to get us thinking who, what, when, where, why, how and how much/many! Try it as a tool for developing inspection criteria.

Affinity Diagram – Any large whiteboard just screams for sticky notes, so this is perfect.  I’ve even heard of people putting the sticky notes on the door to organize the information (ideas) into what’s been described as their “natural relationships.”  I’ve used this tool in the past but quite honestly think my initial attempts were disorganized and maybe even missed the point. I decided to give it a try again not too long ago and have had much different results.While I had used the tool as a group effort in the past, I’ve found individual application is much better and removes some of the chaos I had associated with it before.  What’s great about it is that it works really well at something you’re trying to figure out and can keep hanging around for as long as necessary.  So, I add sticky notes to that big whiteboard whenever I think of something on my pending issue… Or, I’ll move them around after something I figured out during an entirely separate event.  It’s the best visual device I can think of that’s also tangible.  Try it as a way to evaluate supplier performance.

Any other recommendations and/or applications of those mentioned are welcome and appreciated!