The House of High Quality Articles for Everyone in the World

Apr 30, 2011

Just In Time (JIT) Vs Supermarkets

Henry Ford's line assembly system is one of the richest of the planet. So Many leaders of lean manufacturing or JIT traveled to study this system. They studied the pluses and minuses of the system.

But, many Japanese manufacturers were more interested in supermarkets than Ford's system. Sounds bad? It is true though. Lean manufacturing pioneers thought about the possibility of using the super market concepts in the manufacturing process that they are going to develop. It might not be possible to say lean manufacturing is born on the supermarket concept. But JIT operates more or less similar to the concepts of the super markets.

A supermarket never keeps large stocks in them. They will keep only the shelf full and when the goods are being removed from the customer, it will be detected ad the shelves will be replenished daily or twice a day. The important concept behind this system is not having large stocks and continuous replenishment based on the consumption. This will give supermarkets large floor space savings, less wastage and ability to react for the customer requirements.

This is what happens in JIT manufacturing. Goods are produced only when they are required. Therefore there is no requirement for the stocks. Raw materials are purchased in small batches, when they are required. Then the goods are produced with a continuous flow. Then the finished products are distributed to the customers in small batches, continuously. This means, no wastages in the form of opportunity loss for the capital, reduced quality defects, floor space savings, higher flexibility and shorter lead-times.

This process will be stimulated by the customer demand. Customer requirement will pull the product from the manufacturer. Don't you see a big similarity between lean manufacturing and supermarkets?

read more »

Apr 28, 2011

Design For Manufacturability

Design for Manufacturability (DFM) is a proven design methodology that works for any size company. By using DFM techniques companies can design products right the first time by utilizing concurrent engineering design teams to optimize manufacturability, quality, reliability, serviceability, cost, flexibility, market acceptance, and time-to-market.

The intense competition in today’s market place has raised customers’ expectations to unprecedented levels. The “throw it over the wall”, or “I designed it you build it!” motto can no longer be used to deliver flawless products in a timely manner. The objective of any organization is to make the product better, faster, and cheaper than the competition can. In the past, products have been designed that could not be produced. Products have been released for production that could only be made to work in the model shop where prototypes were built and adjusted by highly skilled technicians. Effective product development must go beyond the traditional steps of implementing product and process design technology as the solution. Management practices must be used to design the customer’s requirements into the product and ensure that both the factory and the company’s suppliers have the capability to produce the product. Therefore, many companies search diligently for real life solutions to smoother new product introduction.

A designer’s primary objective is to design a functioning product within the given economic and schedule restraints. The designer will work within the context of an existing production system that can only be minimally modified. However, research has shown that decisions made during the design period determine 70% of the products cost while decisions made during production only account for 20% of the products cost. Further, decisions made in the first 5% of product design could determine the vast majority of the products cost, quality and manufacturability characteristics. This indicates the great leverage that DFM can have on a company’s success.

One way that manufacturability can be assured is by developing products in multi-functional or Concurrent Engineering teams. The success of these teams require early and active participation from Manufacturing, Marketing, Finance, Designers, Design Engineers, Quality, Service, Purchasing, Vendors, Regulatory, Compliance, and Technicians. The team works together to not only design for functionality, but also to optimize cost, delivery, quality, reliability, ease of assembly, testability, ease of service, shipping, human factors, styling, safety, customization, expandability, and regulatory and environmental compliance. Some organizations make a weak effort at DFM by throwing the Design Engineer, Designer, Manufacturing Engineer and Quality Engineer in a room to review a product design. The personnel involved in product development need to understand the customers’ requirements to effectively develop products to meet these requirements. Product developers need to be brought into contact with the customer through a representative group of prospective customers. Marketing and program management functions need to be involved in product development to provide this type of customer/market input. Concurrent Engineering is based on the integrated design of products and manufacturing and support processes. It is not a matter of assessing manufacturability of the product after it has been designed and making appropriate changes to the product design to enhance its producibility. This approach extends the design cycle time, increases product development cost, and may not result in the most optimum way to produce the product. Instead, manufacturability must be considered from the very start of product development and designed into the product. Concurrent engineering involves many basic principles and concepts but a good rule of thumb is to follow the “Ten Commandments of Concurrent Engineering.”

1. Understand your customer.

2. Use product development teams.

3. Integrate process design.

4. Involve suppliers and subcontractors early.

5. Use digital product models.

6. Integrate CAE, CAD, and CAM tools.

7. Simulate product performance and Manufacturing processes electronically.

8. Use Quality Engineering and Reliability techniques.

9. Create an efficient development approach.

10. Improve the design process continuously.

While basic training in DFM principles is a starting point for a DFM program, further steps are required for developing producible products. An organization must begin considering its unique process capabilities and developing company specific design guidelines. While the design of a custom part or selection of a new part may be the most optimal approach to meet product requirements from the designer’s point of view, it may not be the best overall approach for the company. Product cost and quality may be negatively affected by the proliferation of specialized items that require specialized capabilities or prevent efficient manufacture procurement. Minimizing the number of active or approved parts through standardization not only simplifies product design, but can also result in operational efficiencies and lower inventories. A formal policy of parts standardization and emphasis on use of parts from an approved parts list for certain commodities provides management direction to the designer. Product development teams need to understand basic DFM principles that are applicable to a wide range of products. Some basic principles to follow are:

Simplify and reduce the number of parts.
Standardize and use common parts and materials.
Design for ease of fabrication.
Mistake proof product design and assembly. (poka-yoke)
Design for parts orientation and handling to minimize nonvalue-added manual effort.
Minimize flexible parts and interconnections.
Design for ease of assembly.
Design for efficient joining and fastening.
Design modular products to facilitate assembly with building block components.
Design for ease of service.
Design “robustness” into products.
Avoid tight tolerances.

While design automation technology has significantly advanced, DFM concepts are not radically new and different. In many ways, these practices reflect the smaller, less formal organizations of the past, where people knew each other, communicated effectively between the various functional departments, and coordinated their activities with relatively little effort. However, since technology has advanced and become more complex, a return to yesteryear is not feasible, particularly in large organizations with complex products. DFM concepts reflect a modern-day approach to addressing the complexity and technology associated with today’s new product development. An understanding and application of principles, techniques, and tools related to design for manufacturability will further facilitate the development of high quality, low cost, producible designs quickly.

DFM may require additional effort early in the design process. However, the integration of product and process design through improved business practices, management philosophies and technology tools will result in a more producible product to better meet customer needs, a quicker and smoother transition to manufacturing, and a lower total program/lifecycle cost.

The greatest challenges exist not in implementing new techniques, business practices, or technology, but in overcoming the organizational barriers and the resistance to changing the way things are done. As new products and time to market become crucial in achieving competitive advantage, the use of DFM concepts as a basis for new product development will become essential.


read more »

Apr 25, 2011

Lean Six Sigma the Easy Way

My friend tell me a story about starting a relationship with a man who loved "free climbing." He liked to scale cliffs, mountain sides, whatever, without any safety lines of any kind. Frankly, he scared her.

On one of their early dates, he took her to some dunes in California and they walked up to the top and had a picnic dinner.

Six months later, she found herself on top of an 800-foot pinnacle in Utah.

Baby Steps

In 1990, when I started my training, we started with simple exercises. At the end of the training they brought people in off the streets. The young woman they assigned me said: "I used to be a heroin addict. Then I was on methadone until they diagnosed me as HIV positive. Then, I went back on heroin for awhile. Later, I was retested and found to be HIV negative."

When I started my training, this would have freaked me out. At the end of the training, it was no different from free climbing an 800 foot pinnacle. I just said: "And what do you want?" And guided her through some NLP transformations about early traumas.

In Lean Six Sigma, we send belts to one to four weeks of training about how to free climb the cliffs of quality improvement, but we don't really walk them up a dune for a picnic dinner.

Most Lean Six Sigma training throws participants into the deep end and says "swim!" Too few of these trainees can actually solve real business problems.
Growing Money Belts
All of my training seeks to walk people up a dune and let them solve a problem using the improvement methods and tools. My methodology: Focus-Improve-Sustain-Honor. Start with the essential methods and tools of quality and let them experience success. Then let them add tools and methods as needed.

While most Green Belt and Black Belt training is designed to teach people how to free climb cliffs, I fear that it doesn't build the stepping stones to success that enable people to embrace these methods for life.

Just-In-Time Training: I prefer just-in-time training: teaching people what they need to know to solve a real problem in their work space. Don't teach them everything they might ever need to know (I call this "just in case" belt training).

Only teach them what they need to know to walk up this dune.

Next time, take them up a taller dune or hill.

Then, a steeper one with more technical challenges.

In six months, they'll be climbing sheer cliff faces.

read more »

Apr 22, 2011

The difference between Quality Control & Quality Assurance

What is quality control?
First of all, quality control is all activities or tasks that determines the acceptability or unacceptability of a product, a product plan, a product part, etc. Tasks related to quality control may include documented reviews, calibration, or additional types of measurable testing (sampling, measuring system analysis.). Tasks related to quality control will reoccur more often than activities associated with quality assurance.

The Final Determination
Essentially, quality control is determined by the comparison of a product against the original specifications that were created before the product existed.

Who is involved with quality control?
quality control will usually require the involvement of those directly associated with the research, design or production of a product. An employee in charge of quality control related tasks is likely to report to his “local” department head and no further.

These checks may include the following quality control tasks:
•Customer complaints documentation.
•The record keeping of electronic forms or documents associated with step-by-step quality control processes.
•Forms routing.
•Automatic distribution and grading of training exams.
•Collaborative tasks.

What is quality assurance?

Quality assurance is more or less the determination of the processes that will determine the template and pattern of quality control tasks. Quality assurance assignments do not have to be measurable, although quality assurance evaluators will often use past experience or regulation as a guide for process determination.

The Final Determination

Essentially, quality assurance is determined by top-level policies, procedures, work instructions and governmental regulations.

Who is involved with quality assurance?

As opposed to quality control checks, quality assurance reports are more likely to be performed by managers, by corporate level administrators or 3rd party auditors.

Quality Assurance Software: What functions should it perform?

A quality assurance software solution should provide tracking and analytics (i.e. plus reporting features). A complete CAPA digital management solution is also a plus.

The most important function a quality assurance software solution however is flexibility and capability to be customized. After all, every quality assurance process determination will vary from company to company and a software solution should ideally be molded to the various needs of those companies.

The Importance of Distinguishing Quality Control from Quality Assurance Activities

It is important to treat the quality control tasks as separate from the quality assurance activities for the following reasons:

1) A product with continuous quality control checks may be entirely successful but the processes that govern those checks may still prove faulty (take too much time, too much revenue, etc.)

2) One person should not be performing both quality control and quality assurance assignments. Since quality assurance essentially controls the ebb and flow of quality control, having one person over both types of tasks is inherently a conflict of interest.

3) The two types of tasks are different. Why think about quality control and quality assurance as the same sort of process when quality control tasks are measured by specific details (i.e. numbers, specifications, etc.) and quality assurance activities are measured more by written policies, higher level work instructions or even by the opinions of management?

4) Some companies devote too much energy to quality control and some to quality assurance. Both processes must receive evaluation and management.


For life science and high-tech professionals an understanding of why quality control and quality assurance are important and how quality control and quality assurance tasks can best be accomplished are foundational building blocks for a strong regulated company.

read more »

Apr 20, 2011

The Eight Types of Kanban System

The real definition of kanban is that this is a system of scheduling that defines to the person what he or she should produce, the time he or she should produce it and how to do the process. When translated to Japanese, the word means billboard or signboard. This is generally a concept that is lined to just in time production as well as lean manufacturing. The developer of the JIT concept named Taiichi Ohno said that in order to achieve JIT, there is a need to perform the kanban system. At present, there are two popular types of kanban system but in reality, there are six main ones. Learning about them will enable you to understand and discover what you need to design, implement, chose and operate.

The input or output control kanban, which has two variants. This is also known as the ConWip which stands for constant work in progress. This is a type of the kanban system that imposes control on input/output. The signal here travels directly beginning from the end of the line to the next section. This is where the supply chain is considered as one unit instead of taking it as a series of connected operations. Of course, there are some special conditions that are required in the system operation in order for it to avoid concealed problems regarding capacity. The downside here is that the considerations are not so vivid and visible upon the use of the method.

The next is the kanban accumulator wherein the signals are enabled to be accumulated at the work center in anticipation of the batch size of the production. Thus, this means that buffers can be exhausted or depleted on the condition of the accumulation rules. Since buffers are used up, it is possible to accommodate slightly higher mixes. Then we have the dual card system, which comes in two variants as well. This was first used by Toyota and from then it is learned that there are two methodologies involved here. The first one is about the separation of the replenished signal from the kanban system and the "produce" signal from the scheduling system of the organization. The other variation generates the 2nd card which is after the authorization process. This is a result of the replenishment requests.

Another type is the variable quantity or the fixed frequency system. This is ideal for those situations wherein it is more preferred to replenish the items that have been used through fixed frequency collections or deliveries instead of responding to replenishment requests based on fixed quantities. The last one is all about the POLCA system which is only applicable for variable route and high-mix situations. This is also known as the quick response manufacturing.

With the kanban system, you get advantages such as low fixed stock, problems on quality are visible and it is a highly stable system for scheduling. As advantageous as it may be, there is a need to design and manage the kanban system correctly in order to avoid the disadvantages.

read more »

Apr 4, 2011

Quality Control Checklist

Large companies outsource their manufacturing, to be enable the greatest savings in costs for that company and its customers. It brings a new set of challenges to businesses but long-term it may bring many benefits.

China is considered to be the world's new manufacturing heart, businesses that bring their production to China can be far more effective and cost competitive than those that remain in more expensive locations.

The benefits of outsourcing can be outweighed by the harm caused by poor choices in the outsourcing process, toys, baby clothes, toothpaste, seafood and many other products have been subject to mass recall and even destruction from low quality or even dangerous manufacturing methods employed by Chinese factories in the last few years.

In a recent report, the McKinsey group highlighted three areas that contribute to the failure of outsourcing - in particular, compulsive cheapness which is simply a drive to reduce costs no matter what the impact on the manufacturing process. The second area is Management failure and in particular the lack of involvement in the outsourcing process from management after the initial engagement with no localised quality work or inspection. Finally there is also, knowledge and control gaps - where no documentary support for either party in the process exists that ensures the quality of any finished item.

For many Western companies quality has been second nature for so long, that the process of creating the appropriate internal documentation is often assumed to be a standard part of the way manufacturing works. In China, quality management is a relatively new concept and many companies lack the resource and understanding to effectively implement documentation to support gaps in knowledge and control.

One of the best ways to overcome this issue is to work with a local quality company, one with experience in developing the best possible documentation.

Your documentation should be; bi-lingual (many companies forget this, if you supply QC documents in your language it is unlikely to be fully effective in China where second language capability is often limited to the sales team of a factory), clear (set out your requirements in absolutely unambiguous terms) and easy to use (effective implementation can only come about if everyone can use the documents to support the process).

Your chosen provider for this kind of support should have experience (at a minimum) of delivering these types of documentation for the Chinese market; Bill of Materials, Lab Testing Guides, Engineering Diagrams, User and Operations Manuals and Quality Control Checklists, etc.

Many large companies have failed this basic test in China, don't join them in a very expensive mistake - plug your knowledge and control gaps by working with a local partner, specialising in quality document development, to ensure seamless high-quality manufacturing every time.

read more »

Apr 1, 2011

Quality Assurance Methods

1.- In production process

After having good quality designs, in the production process, it is needed to ensure the most effective utilization of selected equipments and technology lines in order to make products in accordance with the designs and ensure the quality of products that is suitable to customers' needs.

2.- In product design process

A good design that is in accordance with production conditions has a direct effect on product quality. In order to assure the quality in this process, manufacturers have to assure the collection of all customers' requests that required the good quality. The requests must be fit in product characteristics to satisfy customers the most with reasonable costs.

3.- In product use process

3.1.-Satisfy customers' complaints when supplying low quality products

When producers supply low quality products, customers normally do not complain about low-cost products but expensive ones. Therefore, the information about low quality products cannot reach the producers while consumers quietly buy similar products by other producers. Producers have to use various ways to collect consumers' complaints even about low-cost products.

However, whether solutions for customers' complaints are effective or not is up to producers' attitude and arrangement. Responsible producers regularly implement reliable measures to ensure to get customers' responses. They always try to satisfy almost all of customers' needs and consider that customers are always right.

3.2.-Define the warranty period

Warranty is an important activity to assure the product quality in the use process. Defining exact and suitable warranty period makes consumers much more satisfied. Normally, customers know that a part of warranty cost is contained in product prices. Thus, it is said that warranty and technical maintenance is the agreement between businessmen and consumers. The more advantages consumers get, the more profit and reputation producers take.

3.3.-Set up service centers and supply spare parts.

This is an equally important part in quality assurance of products in use. Products' reliability and longevity are only defined when being used. Production is never perfect so it is necessary to set up service centers everywhere in order to:

- Ensure the producers' prestige.
- Ensure consumers' interests.
- Collect market information.

3.4.-Provide instruction manuals

Improper use, operations in extraordinary conditions or inadequate periodical maintenance can emerge problems or even damage products when they are in use. Products that can be used for a long time needs to be enclosed with detailed instruction manuals. It is producers' responsibility. The manuals must be printed in local languages and point out consumers' interests when using the products and producers' responsibilities when problems come.

read more »