Lean Update: Identifying And Eliminating Manufacturing Defects

In our last lean manufacturing blog post, we explored how making our manufacturing cells smaller has improved the use of our floor space and boosted overall factory efficiency. But the lean updates don’t end there.

In an effort to continually improve our manufacturing practices, we turn now to “Asaichi,” which means “morning market” in Japanese. The word refers to the way we track and eliminate various defects and disruptions that take place in our manufacturing cells.

Here’s how we do it:

The Asaichi Process
In our latest white paper (which you can read here), we discuss the seven forms of “muda,” or waste—a lean concept that includes all non-value-added manufacturing processes that eat up time, materials, labor or floor space without physically transforming the product into something the customer wants. Defects is one of the types of waste, and it refers to the effort involved in inspecting and fixing quality errors that often result in costly rework or scrap.

Last September, in an effort to identify, minimize and ultimately eliminate the defects and disruptions that take place in our cells, we initiated Asaichi. First, we categorize the various defects. For example, a product might need to be scrapped because the material quality was bad, or we were missing key information from the supplier.

The Daily ‘Morning Market’
To help manage Asaichi, a group lead is appointed to each cell. Whenever operators find a defect, they know to report it to the lead. The leads help us track the defects that occur in a particular cell, and then we summarize the findings visually on a large board. Each morning, the leads meet for 10 minutes to go over the reports from the previous day. We ask questions like: how have certain defects been trending over time? How can we get at the root cause of them? What’s the status of solving a particular issue?

These simple daily meetings—during which key information is shared by the leads—are at the heart of the Asaichi process.

The Impact Of Asaichi
Since initiating Asaichi last September, some of the recurring defects we’ve found in our factory have included missing information—either from the supplier or engineering team, for example. We also noticed issues related to the supply of certain parts. But after working on resolving these issues, productivity is up and the number of total defects in our factory is down significantly.

 

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