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Getting Lean: Strive for Built-in-Quality

The basic principles of lean manufacturing are meant to reduce waste and time and improve quality and output, in order to allow your organization to build value for your customers. During his OMTEC® 2015 presentation, Joe Mazzeo, Owner of Integrated Lean and Quality Solutions, emphasized the importance of implementing and strengthening principle 3, a built-in-quality (BIQ) culture, to hold safety and quality at the core of your business by not accepting, building or shipping a defected product.

“If I’m doing an operation—whether it’s in the office or on the plant floor—and I’m receiving work from a co-worker but I know that work is incorrect or not complete, I shouldn’t accept it—because that creates waste in the form of rework,” he says. “All of these principles will only work if they work together. You can’t cherry-pick. That’s what a lot of companies have tried to do and it doesn’t work. It’s no longer these separate silos that have operated for years in many companies.”

Five principles serve as the foundation for a company’s lean manufacturing process.

Principle 1: People Involvement

Elements: Company vision and mission, health
and safety practices, qualified people, team
concept, engagement, open communication
process and shop floor management.

Example: Shop floor management.

“Management goes to where the work is performed to understand how it’s being done, to learn
about issues and opportunities, and to ensure
that the data is being used to understand
how decisions are made,” Mazzeo says. 

Principle 2: Standardization

Elements: Workplace organization
and standardized work.

Examples: Gaging stations and workshop boards. 

“You want to give operators the best opportunity to do the process the best way you can, in one
common manner. If you have multiple ways of doing things, that’s variation and also waste,” Mazzeo says.

Principle 3: Built-in-Quality 

Elements: Process and product validation, quality standards, quality management system
and quality feedback and feedforward.

Examples: Product sample retention boards/tables
to identify issues if they arise.

Process control plans to develop quality
standards for employees to make decisions.

Principle 4: Short Lead Time

Elements: Simple process flow, material management, supply chain management, scheduled shipping/receiving and lean containerization.

Examples: Material delivery rack locations and
job element sheets.

“If the material presented to the operator is on the floor, and he has a work bench and he has to lean down every day to pick up the parts multiple times a day, it’s probably not very effective,” Mazzeo says.

Principle 5: Continuous Improvement

Elements: Problem-solving, process verification, calling for help, layered audits and
business plan deployment.

Examples: “Does that operator have the ability to
say ‘I’m in trouble,’ or do you have problem-solving in place to allow you to address the issues?”
asks Mazzeo.


Leadership commitment
also plays a huge role in the implementation and maintenance of a quality culture.

“Leadership has to set the compelling example in saying, ‘This is important, we’re going to drive this,’ ” Mazzeo says. “Is everybody engaged, from the shop floor operator to your maintenance people,
all the way to CEO?”

There are five levels to a BIQ culture, the fifth being almost
impossible to achieve.

Here is a broad overview:

Level I: Inspection-based process (Containment)
Definition: Defects don’t leave the plant
Goal: Protect customer from obvious defects

Level II: BIQ Basic (Detection and Containment) 
Definition: Defects don’t leave the shop
Goal: Minimize disruption to downstream processes

Level III: BIQ Intermediate (Prevention & CIP)
Definition: Defects don’t leave the team
Goal: Improve up-stream quality

Level IV: BIQ Advanced (Avoid error flow)
Definition: Defects don’t leave the station
Goal: Eliminate in-process repair

Level V: BIQ Vision (Avoid errors)
Definition: Defects are not created
Goal: Zero in-process waste 

Mazzeo posed the question, What does a built-in-quality plant look like? He used the example of a BIQ Level III Intermediate, where defects don’t leave the team.

Here’s what you can expect to see there:

  • The 5 BIQ operating tools in action (product quality standards, product and process validation, in process control and verification, feedback/feedforward, quality management system)
  • An effective team structure
  • Staff has a strong focus and approach to quality
  • Plant quality metrics as a result of BIQ actions 

If your organization is operating at a Level I or II BIQ, it can negatively impact not only internal operations, but your external operations and your customers’ perception of you, as well.

Mazzeo noted that he has never seen a BIQ Level V, but BIQ Level IV plants are attainable: “The reason you really never get to a BIQ Level V is,as you keep getting finer and finer, you look for different things to work on or you look for different types of defects. This is a continuous journey.”

To move up the BIQ levels, behaviors and skills must be practiced, continually exemplified and nurtured by leadership to build on the existing culture. 

“This is a way to help a company be more successful by making greater products, satisfying more customers and increasing profitability,” Mazzeo says.

To access Mr. Mazzeo’s full presentation, click here.

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