Ronald C. alexander, 13642 Sayre Street, Sylmar, Ca 91342 Hm: (818) 367-4676 or 0884, Wk: (714) 798-7703 email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.aiprojects.com/
For those of you with little background in the ancient art of measuring factory performance, let me begin with some history. Most factories are run by an individual known as a plant manager. Where do these folks come from? Well, to start a factory an investment group needs to buy some land and build on it. So you go out and find a farm, and talk the family living there into selling - and becoming a major investor in the new factory. So now you've got your plant manager - Papa Farmer! So, depending on just how much the Farmers invested, you've got a few to many years in which somebody (and maybe Somebody's kids) totally ignorant of how to measure productivity, will be reporting productivity to you. Good luck! At Hawthorne Farms when I arrived, we were taking all the defect rates from all the product lines and adding them together to get an overall measure of plant quality. So even if you designed production flow to use different components at different times, etc., you'd often get three or four products having the same defective component in the same hour - and the cry went up: "stop the line!" The defect rate tripled or quadrupled! Wow! - of course, there was nothing much wrong except maybe one bad batch of components, but the whole plant came to a screaching halt - all 200+ products! So how do you avoid this? You use a well established theory of product flow that seems very unintuitive, except to a mathematician - or to someone actually trained to do this kind of analysis... it's the same mathematics used for reliability. For some reason Plant Managers let Reliability Engineers do their job, and insist on doing the same job for the Quality Engineers themselves - or ask that somebody they've promoted off the line do the job. If you give a parallel flow analysis job to someone who you hired straight out of High School, what results do you expect? So what do you do with parallel product lines? You add the defects up just like an electrical circuit with parallel capacitors - the capacity of a product to have defects works just the same! Easy math, and it automatically flags quality failures which impact the whole Plant to Plant Management. It doesn't get used by the individual product lines, which directly use the quality measures for their lines themselves - in fact, they post them and establish action limits, and we call it statistical quality control (SQC.) When we established SQC for production, production teams for each product, and got Plant Management out of the "stop the factory!" mode for an isolated defect, we saw an immediate and massive improvement in quality everywhere! If the individual lines didn't catch that defective lot of components, then the overall indicators would begin to reflect it. At that point somebody aught to get hanged out to dry, for impacting the whole plant! Throughout it all, Andy encouraged us by insisting that decisions were to be made at the lowest level. It's the Plant's monetary dependance on that wrong indicator that was a mistake. We filled the warehouse up, since the sales folks wouldn't believe us - they went so far as taking samples from the warehouse to "prove" we were making inferior products. The warehouse samples showed an improvement over previous field reliablity studies, as did retrospective studies of return merchandise audits. We were still out of work, though; and a trained Plant Manager was hired (Miller) who knew about this Total Quality Management approach. I had been accused of inventing (TQM) out of whole cloth by the Plant Manager... ain't an engineering education great? - especially with my previous BS in mathematics. When the factory closed, the ones who stayed were the line assemblers and new college hires - and folks promoted from those jobs. Certainly not me!