Measuring New Product Workmanship

Charts such as the one shown in Figure 8-1 are used to track new product quality and workmanship in test management. This particular chart shows quantities of defects in the following categories for a new product called "SAV" for this example: missing part, wrong part, misaligned part, lifted pads, damaged part, long leads, and other. Failure quantities, shown as dark gray vertical bars, are under FMEA standards (FMEA standard tests a product until it fails—to test product failure points); quantities shown in a light gray vertical bars are test results under customer requirement standards. In this example, failures attributed to wrong part, damaged part, and misaligned parts appear to be major failure categories under customer requirement testing and FMEA testing.

Product failure indicators like these must be tested under at least two conditions—those that test product performance against specifications under customer conditions, and those that test the limits of product performance under FMEA studies.

If verified through retesting, the source(s) of these product failures are investigated using root cause analysis. Root cause analysis uses the fish bone diagram shown in Figure 8-2 to get at the root of the failure. A small group of product team members is gathered to brainstorm root causes and to drill deeper until the real cause is uncovered. In the following case, it was determined that the root causes could be associated with misaligned parts:

SAV Workmanship

SAV Workmanship

Figure 8-1 New product SAV test results.

1. Supplier quality—is a supplied part misaligned, and could the misalignment be due to a contractor error?

2. Design—is the design of the new product defective, and does it lead to misalignment of parts due to errors in tolerances?

3. Assembly—is the assembly process at the heart of misalignment, e.g., assemblers are not correctly assembling parts?

4. Training—is the lack of training of designers, developers, and/or assemblers the problem?

Figure 8-2 Fish bone diagram for root causes.

5. Test protocol—is the test protocol correct, and does the test process and equipment fit the test?

6. Other—new source, unspecified.

Let's say it is confirmed in another production and testing of a prototype after this analysis that the source of the misaligned part was found to be assembly and training related. The team found that the particular assembler who assembled the defected product was not aware of an alignment technique designed into the product, and this was not communicated to him in training. Drilling down deeper into that root cause, it was found that the training did not occur because the assembler had already been "checked out" by quality control on this assembly procedure; however, when asked about it, the assembler indicated that he had never seen the assembly procedure. More investigation found that quality control routinely checked veteran assemblers out on new product procedures without actually confirming that the training occurred.

In this case, corrective action was taken in quality control by replacing the inspection engineer responsible for checking out the assembler on this procedure.

A similar analysis is conducted for wrong parts and damaged parts. The moral of this story is twofold:

1. Product performance problems are rarely simply technical or simply organizational or managerial. They often involve technical and organizational elements and are resolved through action on both fronts. Good measurement of new product performance can uncover technical and organizational/ management issues in product quality. Unless project management insists on this kind of inquiry when these Six Sigma-type violations occur in test management, they will likely remain uncovered.

2. Unless the testing and measurement process is constrained by goals or standards, e.g., product specifications or FMEA standards, the process has no firm ground to declare the product fit for use.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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