Lean Thinking and Quality Control

Techam Solutions has been recently approached by a client to help them with development of a basic quality management system. The requirement was not to build an ISO compliant system but a simple program that helps the manufacturing team to build a quality product. As we are going through this project, we wanted to share the takeaways and the lesson learned with our audience.

Defining a robust quality system while the production system is being developed results in achieving a higher rate of success.

Lean Project Based Systems

Many times, we find that organizations start with a business venture, then develop production systems, and implement quality systems as the final step. Implementing quality in each step earlier can achieve a higher rate of success. The introduction of lean thinking and its principals leads to a more robust process with a high rate of successful project completion and management.

Organizational Culture and Change Management

The issues surrounding change management are addressed through the integration of a culture that embraces the ability to adapt to quality based lean systems. The organizations’ ability to adopt a quality culture is contingent upon its ability to adapt to change. A change culture is developed through a continuous feedback loop of information throughout the levels of the organization. As we exchange information it becomes ever more imperative that we can communicate effectively through the organization.

Individual empowerment of the people processes can be developed organically by connecting the right information with the right people. Process owners with more visibility of actionable data can make real time decisions based upon the facts. This is achieved through a cultural change throughout the organization. Individually worked to optimize each person and find a way to allow the organization to continue to communicate internally and allow business processes to become ergonomic.

Value Stream Mapping

To gain an understanding of the product we first develop a value stream map. This allows us to visualize the process. A value stream map should grow with the project and reflect the project as it moves along. This map gives executive leadership an entire view of the value stream for a particular project. Value stream maps should be able to map out all interactions of documentation for the organization. This can include standard times, work instructions, logged defects, and critical to quality points.

Critical to Quality Points

Further development of the process takes place with detailed work instructions. When defining the work needed to be done, we evaluate the efficacy of the step to see if it adds value to the system. In this evaluation, steps which are critical to quality are identified and reflected in the value stream. After defining the critical to quality steps, data can be gathered, analyzed, and reported out.

Throughout the product development, we can identify key points in assembly processes where it can be tested, or data passively gathered to ensure its quality and adherence to standards. While developing the work instructions, the integrated functionality checks mitigate the risk for fall out of product at the end of the line. With data driven metrics being delivered to the process owners, we can identify the abnormal situations and solve the issues that arise in the manufacturing realm.

Risk Mitigation

To mitigate risk, a receiving inspection system is developed. This system logs the material that is being introduced into the organization and ensures its compliance. An acceptable quality level is defined and then and an inspection schedule is selected. This randomized sampling mitigates the originations risk to introduce product into the system that does not perform to requirements.

Inevitably, there will be escapes, so a culture of problem solving is developed and maintained at all levels of the organization. Process owners are empowered through training that gives them the power to complete their project. Digital logs allow for programs to passively calculate defined quality objectives for an organization and take corrective and preventive actions as needed.

Lean Project Based Model

Current process models can be very rigid and does not allow for processes to develop naturally around lean based thinking. Lean practitioners learn to remove waste by leveraging the power of the individual for the organization. This is created through communication feedback loops in the processes that are developed for the organization.

Techam solutions is currently helping its client to go through this journey. It was an interesting project as we found several fundamental and yet easy to implement processes that are frequently overlooked. The nice thing about this project was the mindset of the leadership team that the minimum quality processes need to be built from the beginning when the operation system is formed as opposed to look at them as secondary and adds on processes that are not needed to start the operations.