Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Scream when I hear that "Quality is Free"

I have heard “Quality is Free” so many times I could scream. On the surface, it’s true. Once you get the equipment, training and processes under control, making good parts is like falling off the proverbial log.

But, and it’s a big but, you gotta get there first. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. The same is true with quality. You must build it into the parts, You can’t inspect it into them. As much as the quality departments of most companies are concerned, they and they alone make sure the parts are good.

Well, that’s a little disingenuous. If the parts are good, then the inspection should be a breeze and the inspectors just check the parts and verify/record the results for the certification or inspection package that will be filed or sent with the parts to the user.

However, if the process is bad, the equipment out of spec or the operators of the production machines aren’t trained, well you get the picture. SPC, Six Sigma, ISO and all the other neato nifty inspection/quality methods are there to make it easier for the operators to maintain the quality. BUT, if the basic processing of the parts works against the quality of the parts, you may as well beat your head against the wall.

It costs time and money to get your entire operation into the loop. It is up to the management to decide if it is really in their interests to invest in programs that only add cost without dealing with the underlying issues that must be addressed before putting sophisticated inspection and quality systems into place.

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