You can’t add value twice and you can’t ask the customer to pay twice. So, if your process is creating defect waste, then you are creating nonvalue add costs to your business.
Defects may seem like the most obvious of the 8 Wastes Of Lean, however, sometimes it is not always detected before it reaches the customer. If a defect reaches the customer, this could lead to loss of business, and future business, due to word of your poor quality spreading.
The overall, long-term cost of a defect in your processes can really stack up if you factor in all the elements:
Cost = Rework time + Replacement materials + resources + Paperwork + Longer lead time + the delay/bottleneck of other projects + loss of customer + potential business loss
When you add all that up, can you really afford to ignore the defects slipping through the cracks of your production?
Let’s look at this in more detail.
What is a defect?
A defect in your process is a flawed product that doesn’t meet the set specification. Some common examples of defects are:
- Products assembled incorrectly
- Products missing parts
- Products made with incorrect components
- Poorly made products / rushed
- Products that have been damaged in transport
- Faulty goods that have reached the customer
What causes defect waste?
There are lots of things that could be causing defects. The best way to figure out your cause is to do a root cause analysis, however, here are a few possible examples of the causes you might find:
- Unclear or lack of standard operating procedures
- Unclear specifications
- Variations in the process
- Inadequate training
- Skills shortage
- Incapable processes
- Incapable supplier
- Lack of/ poor machine maintenance
- Operator error
- Excessive Stock
- Transport Waste
- Poor communication
- No quality controls
- Impossible design
- Lack of parts, causing operators to find alternatives
- A poor culture that doesn’t empower employees to flag errors in the process.
- Rewarding quantity over quality resulting in operative rushing work to hit targets.
How to drive down your defect waste…
There are four initial steps you should take if you’re looking to drive down your defect waste.
STEP ONE: Find the part of your process that generates either the most frequent or most expensive defects.
The aim, of course, should be to remove all the defect waste from your process, however, to focus your starting approach you should start with one stage of the process.
STEP TWO: Include a step in that stage that will detect the defect, before it moves onto the next part of the process.
The Lean approach to this step would be to include Poka-Yoke by Autonomation. Poka-yoke in Japanese translates simply to mistake-proofing/error prevention. Autonomation is essentially automation with a human element. This involves automating the boring and repetitive parts of the process which are then programmed to stop when they detect a defect, allowing the human supervisor to fix it before the machine restarts. This allows one person to be responsible for several parts of the process at once, with a greater focus on quality and standardisation.
A great example of this would be the loom invented by Sakichi in 1896. This innovative loom automated the process but was programmed to stop if any threads broke. Once the machine had stopped the person could go on and fix the issue and then restart the machine. This eradicated any defects in this part of the process before it moved on to another part in the process.
STEP THREE: drill down to the route cause of the issue that is creating the defects and fix it.
This is a vital and often forgotten part of the process, as it is very easy to simply fix the surface issue rather than the root cause.
For example, the surface cause of a defect may have been due to incorrect assembly, which would be easy to attribute to poor information given. However, lying underneath that issue could be inadequate staff training to spot the error or lack a forum to voice concern. Failing to fix this cause will allow a defect to reoccur.
STEP FOUR: Standardise the procedure so the defects do not reoccur again.
Once you have fully fixed the problem, it is important to then create new standard operating procedures which include the fix. This ensures to remove any variation the process with a set of clear instructions to follow. An important part of setting SOP’s is marrying that with functional visual management to ensure those procedures are displayed in a format where they are easy to find and always in use.
Finally, it is important to establish a culture of improvement in your factory which empowers employees to spot errors and gives them the confidence and forum to raise issues and offer solutions. Daily meetings around an SQDIP board is a great way to ensure information is always flowing in-between departments, defects are flagged, and problems are fixed before they reach your customer.
ClarityVM Consulting, coaching your team to understand the Lean wastes
Here at ClarityVM Consulting, we coach clients both far and wide about how they can use a Lean programme and visual management to achieve their goals, exceed their targets and make financial savings which would otherwise be lost to waste. We work with our clients to create a bespoke strategy that ensures Lean is set up for success before providing specific, high-quality visual management products to sustain the initiative and make Lean work in the organisation long-term.
You can read more about the work we’ve undertaken with our clients by browsing through our Visual Management Case Studies.
Further reading on the Clarity Blog:
- Developing an Effective Standard Operating Procedure
- Assessing Goals and Auditing Strategies
- Aldeburgh Lifeboat Station – Saving Lives With Lean Thinking
- A Visual Management Definition You Can Rely On
- Kaizen Events: Clarity Consulting’s Secret Weapon
- Why Your Workplace Communication Fails (…and How To Improve It)
- Why Lean Programmes Fail
- 6 Simple Solutions to Battle Workplace Stress
- How To Make Your Process Improvements Stick Around
- How To Create A Culture Of Improvement In Your Workplace
- 6 Challenges For Effective Business Leadership
- Our Favourite Lean Quotes…
- Beat Procrastination and get Motivated
- How to improve the morale in your workplace
- Internal Communication: Is It Standing In The Way Of Your Success?