On my project to revamp standard work sheets on the shop floor, adding visual quality guides provided an excellent way to display common quality nonconformances and recommended corrective actions. The standard work sheet details the current best method necessary to correctly perform an operation. But not all processes are perfect on our lean journey. That's where the visual quality guides can help.
The visual quality guide displays any potential defects found at a particular workstation. Examples are clearly pictured based on customer complaints and quality specifications. By properly defining the acceptance criteria along with what is unacceptable, many debates can be avoided and judgment improved. It is a management responsibility to clearly define quality expectations. Smart management will adhere to customer defined quality expectations.
Before the posting of visual quality guides, it was almost a daily activity to constantly address this issue somewhere in the plant. A supervisor or operator calls the quality manager to "make the call" if the product was good. After the quality manager looks over the part, an issued disposition declares the "goodness" of the part in addition to any actions to get the part in conformance to standard. Delays in dispositions are common and quarantine areas were created. All Muda!
With visual quality guides, all customer quality expectations are documented and displayed at gemba. Soon after posting them, a supervisor called me to the floor to make another "quality call". When looking over the part, I asked the supervisor, "What do you think?". He said, "You're Quality, you tell me.". Quickly, I asked him, "What does the visual quality guide say about this?". He began to read the appropriate section back to me. I just repeated my question, "Now, what do you think?". I did not have to provide a disposition and it took only a few weeks for everyone to follow the guides.
In the event a nonconformance is detected, the recommended corrective actions is included on the visual quality guide. Following this guide, not only was the quality standard clearly defined, any operator can now initiate corrective actions without delay. Less Muda!
Visual quality guides provide an outstanding quality communication tool that goes well with the standard work charts. That leaves the future challenges of preventive actions and keeping the quality standards in line with the "raising of the bar" by our customers.