Original Date: 09/15/2003
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Operator Certification/Verification
United Defense, L.P. Ground Systems Division Aiken is implementing an Operator Certification/Verification process that gives manufacturing technicians the empowerment to make product acceptance decisions and perform other inspection tasks through validated training. The process provides many benefits important at the workstation level and accomplishes enterprise goals to reduce costs and improve quality.
An important component of enterprise-wide processes to provide increased customer satisfaction, improved financial performance, and reduced cost is Operator Certification/Verification, a process by which manufacturing technicians are empowered to make product acceptance decisions and perform other inspection tasks with validated training. United Defense, L.P. Ground Systems Division (UDLP GSD) Aiken is implementing this process to provide benefits important at the workstation level and to accomplish enterprise goals to reduce costs and improve quality.
Previously, all first piece inspections at UDLP GSD Aiken were performed by technicians and then verified by independent Quality Assurance (QA) personnel prior to continuing part production. When all manufacturing operations were completed, the manufacturing order of a part traveled to the quality lay-down area to await final inspection and buy-off. QA personnel performed final inspection, completed transactions, and tagged parts for shipment or storage by material handling. These operations caused redundant inspections and delayed completion of manufacturing orders by moving parts from production to QA and waiting in the lay-down area, particularly as the company moved from a low mix/high volume to a high mix/low volume manufacturing environment. The ability of UDLP GSD Aiken to implement enterprise-wide manufacturing processes that optimized the emerging high mix/low volume production capability was also impaired.
UDLP GSD Aiken recognized several imperatives that governed evolution of its work product: Inspection is not a value-added activity; quality cannot be inspected into a product, quality must be built into a product
Customers continue to demand improved quality and competitive cost
Operators need immediate feedback on their processes
Focusing on continuous process improvement adds value for customers
UDLP GSD Aiken formed a team comprised of manufacturing area leaders, quality engineers, human resources, and technicians to address these imperatives. The team drafted a program of operator certification and “Self Inspection” that was presented to the customer for approval. Once the program was approved by the customer, it was written into the contract. The process focused on operator training, letting the operators know what was expected, and then empowering them to meet those expectations. Empowerment included their involvement in the evolution of standards, training, and certification of the facility in all key areas, specifically blueprint reading, hands-on inspection of parts, inspection techniques/instruments appropriate for that workstation, QA procedures and standards, and successful performance of five inspections with QA or an experienced, certified technician. Optional training is also provided in several specialized areas such as geometric dimensioning and tolerancing, coordinate measuring machines, welding inspection, and any additional specialized training if needed.
The Operators Certification/Verification process is now universally used at UDLP GSD Aiken, providing the operators instant feedback, eliminating redundant inspections, reducing ratios of inspection time to manufacturing time, and increasing accountability, process ownership, and higher levels of responsibility.
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