The Human Factor Contribution to Process Variations– Part 1

By now we should be very clear that  as  a manufacturer of any products we would like to  deliver consistent good quality product to attract our customer.  In order to achieve consistent good quality product which is process output,Y, we must understand and control the cause of  variation.  Cause variation derives from various inputs Xs (5M and 1E) which needed to transform material to output, Y,  which is a product that will be eventually sold to consumer.  

Process input man is the human factor

Out of the 6 process inputs,  I have already discussed very extensively on process input, measure  in 5 articles published on 28 Sep, 29 Sep, 6 Oct, 9 Oct and 12 Oct in this website.
In any organization,  human resource is vital  to a success of the organization operation, which include manufacturing process.   We cannot limit process input, man, to operator who directly transform the product in the manufacturing process.  Instead we should focus end to end of man contribution from management team, engineers, trainers to operator.  In most company management team, engineers and trainers are known as indirect labour (IL) and manufacturing operator as known as direct labour (DL).   It is biggest sin in manufacturing entity to blame poor quality product on operator.  We must remember and adopt Dr Deming lesson that 85% of the quality problem are cause by poor management (IL)  at all times.  If you deal with suppliers as asupplier quality engineer(SQE), account manager or commodity manager, when you spotted a misconduct in operator,  you will need to question the management instead of the operator.  Operator merely follow instruction from management team and/or engineers/trainers. If there is a misconduct, this could mean that the management team did not give direction or conduct any check and balance on operator.  This happen due to a lazy management team or sub standard knowledge management team.
Key to success in managing and controlling human factor to achieve consistent good quality product would be :-

Top management

Manage and control of process input, man, should start from top management  such as the company owner or the top executives.  The organization top management must have the clear quality mindset and understand everybody in supply chain who is involve in bringing the product to the consumer market contribute to the product quality.  Ideally there should be a good hiring process to hire everyone with quality mindset,  however this is not possible.  Therefore it is a good practice to hire at least key position manager with knowledge in quality to drive the entire organization.  The company should be very fortunate if they get customer in the role of SQE with quality mindset to drive them as customer is biggest change agent for any organization.

Hiring process

The hiring process in a successful organization must have the capability to get the right person for the right job.  Some companies  use personality test  such as Briggs Myers'  test or or some unorthodox method such as Chinese metaphysics Baizi profiling to understand potential candidate personality besides assess the candidate skillset base paper qualification and experience.  In my personal opinion this is a more balance approach, as both qualification and personality will determine the candidate’s potential in the position.  A candidate who is able to perform at optimum level in a  job function will  have positive impact on product quality of the organization.  So far I have never hear of personality test being use in the manufacturing industry.
Sometimes hiring good quality (personality, experience and qualification) engineers or managers might cost a bit more,  however it is worth the investment as this could have prevent any potential poor quality cost.  

Remember pay peanuts get monkey!
Company Culture

Quality awareness should be from top down.  Quality mindset should be  instill in  all employees as quality is everybody business.  Each and every employee should be motivated to perform their best at all the times then only  consistent good results can be attained.  In  late 1980s to early 90s when I  just started my career most company management were dictator style.  As we move towards a new millennium most company had shifted their management paradigm to more open style  especially in managing generation X to millennials.

A superior culture w to adopt in an organization would be lean culture. So far in my career as supplier quality manager dealing with hundreds of company across the globe I have NOT seen  a true lean culture company.  I have seen quite an number of bogus lean companies or organizations that mixed up six sigma and lean!

Learning Opportunity

There must proper training structure in place to ensure the IL workforce is being systematically trained related to their job function which enable to contribute to the product quality. Company should send various functional  engineers  to quality related training to ensure they understand that they play a role in ensuring the quality of the product.  It is best to recruit or train quality engineer to become certified quality engineer by American Society of Quality (ASQ).  

Performance monitoring

Quality should be the main key performance index (KPI)  driver for management and management must have the capability to drive quality related  KPI to the rightful process owner from various functional group.  One of the most important KPI should be quality cost and there must be a systematic and consistent measurement of quality cost across organization.

Staff Retention

Manufacturing industries especially electronic related are very dynamic,  therefore  it could have the highest attrition rate compare to other industries.  An organization should always setup a system which has very little dependence on individual worker.  Critical projects should be handled by a team and not by an individual.  Although nobody is indispensable including the CEO,  however if the a key person leave the organization it might cause problem that could contribute to product quality. 

An example would be if the instruction of how to make a product is control by one engineer and there are no proper documented procedure,  then the knowledge will be lost if the person leave the company.  The company must have a quality management system which ensure all process are well documented and updated. 

Finally top management should developed an attractive remuneration package, good working culture with advancement opportunity to retain all the good staff.  Some multinational corporation had even created a comfort zone for their employee to retain their talented staff.

We shall focus on the guideline to train and certified operators to ensure the variation from trainers and operators are being managed in my consecutive blog.

Sharing is caring

Continuous Improvement Program CIP - 6sigma Methodology