the scrap and rework was found for one
part, product line, or type of welding,
the reason for the problem with other
parts, product lines, and types of welding would be found as well. That he
should look at the overall process. This
advice meant nothing to him. Meeting
after meeting he went through his number crunching of all of the elements of
the parts with the highest number of
NCRs by the book that he learned in
his six sigma class.
We were getting nowhere fast. Nothing concrete was coming out of the
meetings. Some team members started
not showing up for his meetings. Some
of us communicated our concern about
the waste of time and no results to the
plant quality director. He was able to get
the plug pulled” on the six sigma project and that was the last we saw of the
corporate quality manager.
In spite of his six sigma certification,
this guy had no practical “hands-on”
experience and no knowledge of welding
processes. He “could not see the forest
for the trees” so to speak. His six sigma
training and certification had no positive impact on trying to solve the problems with welding. Sometimes to get to
the root cause of a problem, there is no
substitute for getting out in the “
trenches” and “putting your ear to the ground”.
In my daily walks through the shops
checking on this and that, I would talk
to people, listen, and observe. I am not
a welder, but in my years of being first
a manufacturing engineer and then a
quality engineer, I have watched various welding processes, talked to people who knew more than me, and had
to deal with welding problems.
I had been told that you could tell
the change in the seasons by the fluctu-
ation in NCRs. Welding processes are
sensitive to the environment in which
they are performed in. You can have a
perfect welding procedure, but changes
in humidity will have an adverse effect
on your weld.
One day I was talking to the lead
welding inspector and asked what did
he think was the cause of our problems.
He said that there are some welding
processes that are “dirtier” than others.
The process that was being used was
not as “clean” as another that could be
used but it was FASTER. So when the
weld was ultrasonically inspected afterwards, unacceptable “indications” were
found that rejected the weld. Although
the indications were not found in every
case, and they came in varying degree,
this occurred more often than not. In
which case the weld had to be cut out