A Revolutionary System for Solving Quality Problems


DeLand, Terry; Meyer, Michele   (1990, ASQC)   GMC, Saginaw, MI

Annual Quality Congress, San Francisco, CA    Vol. 44    No. 0
QICID: 9564    May 1990    pp. 893-898
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Article Abstract

Over the past ten years, industry, in America has spent enormous amounts of money training people in methods of solving quality problems. However, we have become like carpenters who build a house with only a hammer one year and a saw the next. We grasp onto every new tool as if it was the ultimate quality tool and the previous tools are usually discarded. Our house never gets built because we fail to recognize the importance and proper use of each tool. Problem solving becomes a never ending cycle of addressing the same chronic problems with each new tool. For example, in the late 1970's early 1980's SPC became the new quality buzz word. Industry raced to implement control charts in hopes of improving and solving their quality problems. SPC was successful in finding sources for sporadic, or special cause variation, but failed for chronic, or common cause variations. In recent years D.O.E or Design of Experiments, is gaining great popularity. Designed Experiments allow for multiple variable testing however, mixed reactions are being reported on their use and success.

Central Foundry has developed a revolutionary system for solving chronic quality problems. Within this system multiple tools have their proper use and importance. Additionally, the project must be clearly defined and an effective measurement system established before experimentation begins. Clues are generated from the process to identify possible causes. Clue generation allows the process to demonstrate what is occurring at the point of nonconformance. The clues generated, empirical data, along with engineering and production knowledge, not brainstorming, subjective data, are used to identify possible causes. Experimental designs are used to test the identified causes. When a cause is experimentally proven, a confirmation test is performed to insure the nonconformance can be turned on and off. Realistic tolerances are established for the known cause and the gains are held by either irreversible corrective action or by a variety of other tools including SPC. The lessons learned are communicated to others within the organization who can benefit.

The key to the success of the system at Central Foundry is in the support given by upper management. All managers at the divisional and plant levels have a working knowledge of the system and its tools. Their knowledge and support enables them to talk in problem solving terms and help in the removal of roadblocks. Over 400 people salaried and hourly personnel have been trained in the use of this revolutionary system and are using the system daily in breakthrough teams to solve chronic quality problems.

A case study will be presented to demonstrate the power of this revolutionary system. It is the journey taken by the Burn-in Elimination Team at the Saginaw Grey Iron Plant. Burn-in was considered a chronic problem for many years. Using the revolutionary system a solution was found in about fourteen months. It should be noted that the solution found was contrary to accepted technical beliefs. In this case a long standing chronic problem was solved which had been brainstormed for many years. No ultimate tool was used to solve this problem. The system's combination of many tools, used in their proper context, allowed for the successful elimination of a major problem.


Case study,Quality tools,Design of experiments (DOE),Automobile industry

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