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Risky Business or Knocking Nails With a Wrench?
Martin Trigg-Hogarth
Nu-Pro Surface Treatments Ltd - Stroud, Glos UK

As a company we are trying to do the right thing Provide what our customers want and charge a price that represents value for money. This does have problems as customers don't know what they want and expect the price to be as low as possible. However we offer technical advice for free to help a customer decide what is best and hope this puts us in line for the work when it goes to market. We are also looking to the new lean methods to increase our competitive edge, but this has also had some interesting side effects.

We are trying to do lean without all of the buzz words and make it simple i.e. only do what makes money, when you do so make it easy as possible to do and eliminate where you could go wrong. Some customers have taken the lean ideas more to heart and speaking to them can sound like a lesson in Japanese which is what we are trying to avoid.

The gurus of lean talk of a toolbox of methods to solve problems one of which has made me think. We have done a Process Failure Modes and Effects Analysis on electroless nickel plating the conclusion is it is miracle we ever get a good job out the door. Contrast this to our reject rate of 0.5% of turnover, (this figure does include a fee added for admin for each reject and lost production time).

Thus I am left asking a question is electroplating a risky business or is the PFMEA the wrong tool to analyse a plating process in effect am I knocking nails with a wrench? --Martin Trigg-Hogarth

 

"All things in moderation"
Ted Mooney, finishing.com

I think you are on the perfect course.

At one extreme are those who consider surface finishing to be largely an art, who resent the changes and loss of "freedom" inherent in codified process control, and who will never ever embrace it. They grow old and, fortunately, fewer.

At the other end are those who are credulous enough to attribute to codified process control (ISO, NADCAP, Six Sigma) the power to codify the necessary variables required to generate good plating. You'll find no philosophers, math majors, or artificial intelligence experts embracing that view -- only 6-Sigmas who were handed a working process and don't realize their good fortune.

Apply structured process control because it is a very good thing, with manifest power to greatly reduce rejects! But there is almost nothing as ludicrous as trying to determine the cause of a spate of jejects by poring over charts in the conference room instead of going down and watching the plating line :-)

-- Ted Mooney


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