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Quality at the Source

Quality at the source is an approach to quality that places the responsibility for catching errors in the hands of the operator, or at the point of build. Successful implementation of this lean tool requires a major shift in how supervisors and operators look at quality. Quality is not just the responsibility of the quality control department. The process in which the product is manufactured must be set up to allow production line workers to recognize errors before they become defects. The development of a proactive culture is needed in quality at the source, and a mind-set of error prevention rather than reaction to problems should be taught.

Line workers should be required to perform specified incoming and outgoing checks on every unit or with reasonable frequency. The production line or work area should have the proper quality-check tools as well. When operators check their work and their coworkers’ work, the chances of a defect occurring diminish rapidly. Once the product reaches a midline or final inspection point, it should pass with no issues. It will take some time to change the mind-set of the workers who may have just relied on end-of-line checks to ensure quality. In this lean system, quality is everyone’s job.

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