Controlling and Managing Manufacturing Defects

Ramu I.


There are three broad strategies for reducing defects in manufacturing. They are: Six Sigma, Total Quality Control and the 5 S Methodology. Implementing one of these strategies to reduce defects in manufacturing is absolutely necessary because minor defects or variations can turn into a huge cost burden for business. Let us examine these three methodologies.

Six Sigma

Six Sigma was the innovation of Motorola and many large companies, notably General Electric, have used it successfully. The method was devised to minimize manufacturing defects and variations. It uses a series of quality management methods to execute changes in the existing processes. When a company plans to implement Six Sigma, the methods followed are either DMAIC or DMADV.

In accordance with its acronym, the DMAIC method seeks to define goals and existing processes, measure the existing processes, analyse data to establish the relationship between cause and effect, improve the current processes with the use of the data and control any deviations before defects in production can happen. In comparison, the DMADV method seeks to define goals to meet customer demands, measure risks and characteristics critical to maintain quality, analyse the alternatives for design, design details for the product and verify the design's performance for the customer's needs. Six Sigma has worked extremely well for a large number of companies and deserves its popularity.

Total Quality Control

Total quality control, also known as total quality management (TQM), aims to reduce the incidence of manufacturing defects by emphasizing the role of management. If management is able to provide effective leadership for improving quality, this will help employees to produce products that completely satisfy customers. The most important aspects of TQM are reliability, maintainability and safety. With this methodology, processes are examined to ascertain whether any machinery needs to be replaced and whether employees need to have revised performance standards. This method hinges on the importance of team building to create the right working environment. When employees respect their co-workers, mistakes are less likely to happen and production costs are likely to drop because of fewer manufacturing defects.

The 5 S Methodology

This method is based on five Japanese words which begin with the letter S. It teaches companies how to organize their workplace so that productivity increases. One of the first things to be done is to tidy up the shop floor so that each employee has an organised work space within which to carry out assigned duties and responsibilities. The arrangement should be easily understood and, if necessary, storage bins are provided to help people find the tools they require. Other processes include the creation of standardized procedures and employees should be given the time and space to put forward their own ideas to determine whether these processes are succeeding.

As you can see, there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution to reducing defects in manufacturing. Managers and business owners need to weigh the pros and cons of each of these methods and apply the one that is the best fit for their organization.