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YOU ARE HERE: San Diego Metal Fabricator Uses Lean to Enhance Product Quality
Lean processes not only support quality but the reality is that lean manufacturing cannot function successfully without a strong quality culture and organizational commitment to quality improvement. San Diego Sheet Metal Fabricator, Weldrite Manufacturing, has implemented an operational model that leverages lean practices to optimize, quality and velocity, as well as safety and cost.
Weldrite’s Lean model for sheet metal fabrication is based on the Toyota Production System in which the quality culture is one of the two pillars. The other pillar focuses on flexibility and speed through the focus on continuous flow, pull and the balancing of work to takt time. These two pillars hold up the headstone that is the elimination of waste. The result is performance excellence.
We need to be very careful not to equate lean with eliminating waste, kaizen events, a group of tools such as 5S, kanban, cells and so forth, but as a whole operating system of which safety and quality are integral parts. To understand the interrelationship of the quality pillar to the other elements of the Toyota Production System and lean, we need to consider the following:
Lean processes prevent human error in three basic ways. First, through the design of quality processes including testing for robustness, the creation of standardized work instructions with quality key points and the effective training of the people using a method at least as good as Job Instruction. Second, processes are error-proofed whenever possible. The third way lean processes prevent human errors is by inspection. We have to accept that we are not smart enough to overcome the human ingenuity to make errors, and as a final protection for the customer, we must inspect.
In addition, the quality culture at Weldrite extends beyond manufacturing to include the checking of all work and auditing of all processes. This is done through an overlapping and linked series of source, self and successive checks. People check the work before, during and after the process. Managers, group leaders and team leaders not directly involved in the process check on a periodic basis, according to a standard time routine.