For three years the mountain bike company has produced approximately two thousand frames daily. However, welding rods that conform to specifications appear recently to be contributing to a failure in some frames. The company’s Chief Engineer requested the Production Department’s Project Leader, Alison Passette, create a project to solve the problem.
This paper will answer two questions: 1) what information is required to determine the probable impact of the a mountain bike manufacturer’s quality assurance project on other projects within the same department, 2) should the preliminary findings affect decisions related to the expert welder’s project?
Although the Chief Engineer believes the project should take precedence, Ms Passette believes the impact of the proposed project on other departmental projects must be considered. Passette takes immediate action while planning a long term fix. Immediately, Ms Passette instructs employees to pay particular attention to their machinery, using “quality-based learning” (Fine, 1988) that gives operators responsibility to observe equipment during production, aiming to spot the exact moment of failure and pinpoint early the alterations that will be necessary.
Passette then meets with one of the company’s respected welders, Mr Ken Kelsey. Kelsey indicated that he could determine which foreign substance (if any) was causing the failure and then create a system to pinpoint which frames required rewelding. Mr Kelsey also said that the specifications of the welding rods would need to be altered to eliminate the chemical response for the failures.
The first question to be answered what information is required to determine the probable impact of Kelsey’s project on other projects within the same department. Passette must ascertain the impact of the following: will Kelsey’s project slow down production? If so, will that affect deliveries and accounts, and create a bottleneck of parts to be welded? Passette must also ascertain whether the specifications for the welding rods differ to those used by other manufacturers of mountain bikes.
The second question to be answered is should the preliminary findings affect decisions related to the expert welder’s project? There are two aspects: first, if Kelsey’s research will slow production, Passette may suggest Mr Kelsey work overtime so that the experiments do not impact the company’s output. Second, if specifications for the welding rods differ to those used by other mountain bike manufacturers, a variation in those specifications may immediately rectify the problem and therefore render Kelsey’s project unnecessary.
In summary, Ms Passette addressed the Chief Engineer’s desire for immediate action through her implementation of quality-based learning, and then in tandem will gather the information to address the problem while reducing impact on production flow.