Original Date: 05/01/1992
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Quality Improvement Teams
Texas Instrument/Semiconductor Group/Military Products (TI/SG/MP) has established goals and priorities that support total customer satisfaction built around four components of policy deployment, excellence, management by fact, and teamwork. As a part of the manufacturing strategy, Quality Improvement Teams (QITs) have successfully provided the catalyst for virtually all product and process improvements at TI/SG/MP. In 1985, the TI/SG/MP cost of quality was $9 million with a defect rate of 3,500 ppm and a yield of 80% overall. TI/SG/MP made a commitment on quality that year, and the commitment led to a culture of total quality, continuous improvement, and employee education. Each year, roadmaps were developed, data was collected and analyzed, and processes were evaluated. Team-building was accomplished through employee education and skills development -- and importantly -- by using QITs. Policy deployment provided the translation of improvement strategies into tactics for accomplishing positive changes. Total Quality Control encompassed the Quality Steering Teams and provided the tools for these tactics to be executed. Quality Steering Teams addressed large problems and initiated QITs that defined and resolved individual problems and needs.
TI/SG/MP implemented Statistical Process Improvement (SPI), a combination of statistical process control and continuous process improvement. In conjunction with SPI, TI/SG/MP developed a quality control methodology that resulted in improved cycle times, reduced defects, reduced inventory, and elimination of non-value added processes. For example, the cycle time was reduced until it leveled off at about 30 days. A QIT was formed which initiated the transition from a supply-push to a demand-pull manufacturing scheme. As a result, cycle time was reduced to 14 days. Inventory reductions and the attendant cost savings were realized as a direct result of the QIT addressing the 30-day cycle time. In another example, TI/SG/MP programmed test equipment to perform temperature testing on semiconductor samples from each lot, successfully eliminating a handling step.
Manufacturing excellence has been achieved by the direct involvement of focused groups of operators, technicians, and managers working together to solve specific problems. The creation of self-managed work teams empowered employees to act where they felt they were responsible for eliminating conditions that caused or contributed to problems. One team developed the idea of Total Productive Maintenance as a way to eliminate problems that cause equipment breakdown. Other teams developed application of a soft touch marking system and an alternative lead frame carousel. The automation of a mechanical/visual defect control system resulted in a system that uses eight people in two manufacturing modules today. In 1985, 54 inspectors were required for visual inspection of bent leads. The linking of equipment and operators from three discrete steps into a single work cell that performs alloy, bond, and precap has resulted in team-building and productivity improvement.
Productivity improvement, cost reduction, quality improvement and team building were the direct result of Quality Improvement Teams. In 1991, cost of quality was less than $2M, defects were less than 20 ppm and yield was over 95% overall. Over this period, TI/SG/MP was guided by -- and QITs played a crucial role in -- total customer satisfaction. A cultural change supported the technical process changes required to manufacture semiconductors in the competitive military marketplace.
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