Your plant has a production machine that's fed by a roll of steel at one end and spits out a metal product at the other. The machine cuts, stamps, and welds robotically to create custom-made products for customers to use in making their own products. A typical product is similar to the metal tub in your kitchen range or refrigerator.

The new QA manager just informed you that an entire run is out of spec, and he wants the machine adjusted so the product meets spec. You know the mechanics keep the dies in good condition and the setup crew always tests a small run to ensure the setup is correct. What should you do?

When confronting new problems in any complex system, ask "What has changed?" In this case, the QA manager has changed. With a few well-aimed questions, you can determine if the QA manager created this problem. For example, ask:

  • Have any tolerances changed recently? If so, why?
  • Is this the only affected run?
  • What does the setup crew say?

Next, ensure you have power quality logging in place. Then check all system inputs, starting with the steel itself (check with purchasing to see if the steel has changed).