Inspection is too late. The quality, good or bad, is already in the product.

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By John Hunter, author of Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability.

Inspection does not improve the quality, nor guarantee quality. Inspection is too late. The quality, good or bad, is already in the product. As Harold F. Dodge said, “You can not inspect quality into a product.”

Out of the Crisis, page 29

Inspection can be useful to gather data on the process. Using that data to see if a process has gone out of control and a special cause needs to be investigated is useful. Using that data to evaluate the success, or failure, of an attempt to improve (via the PDSA cycle) is useful.

Inspecting to pull out the failed items from the production before a customer sees them is a path to failure. If the process is this bad, the process needs to be improved. If you can actually stay in business doing this now, you are at risk for not being able to stay in business when the market stops being willing to pay you to produce results people don’t want.

I am reminded of how impressed I was with Dr. Deming’s crediting others. A number of the quotes people credit to Dr. Deming he notes the proper author in his book. I understand that people learn to associate these quotes with Dr. Deming, but I still find it amusing. It also shows his devotion to learning and desire for accurate documentation.

“Quality can not be inspected into a product or service; it must be built into it.” – Out of the Crisis page 227 (where Dr. Deming again refers readers to Dodge’s quote that Dr. Deming included earlier in the book)

4 thoughts on “Inspection is too late. The quality, good or bad, is already in the product.”

  1. I am with Jay here. It is not enough to have a quality control team out and about writing “tickets” for bad quality parts/products. Simple communication after the fact is not enough, the people producing them MUST have the knowledge/mindset/ownership of their processes. Simple quality checks and checklists for inspection are of no use if the people don’t understand the “why” behind them and proper RCA techniques to correct before a worse situation emerges.

  2. Give up. Aerospace management has swallowed the parts they wanted to swallow to get stock prices up and the consumer ends up suffering because of it.

    Let’s try this, fire all but 4 NFL referees and give every producer (player) a flag (inspection stamp) and then instruct the players to throw a flag on the play when the quality of their production doesn’t measure up to expectations.

    A unrealistic comparison you say, but nay say I, it is exactly the same thing with one exception. it was allowed in aerospace, it would never be allowed in the NFL.

  3. For right or for wrong, I repeatedly emphasize that Quality Control is 100% productions responsibility. Only production has any “control” over Initial Quality. The purpose of our documented inspections is two-fold. Firstly to recognize through Quality Assurance inspections whether or not Production’s Initial Quality Control Processes are working effectively. And then, secondly as a client deliverable, to document that the product has been thoroughly inspected. IF our Quality Inspectors find rework necessary or OFIs in workmanship or materials, then Production has missed opportunities to Control Initial Quality, and needs to be informed so that improvements can be realized. Prior to production, our Quality Assurance supports Production’s Initial Quality Control by proactively providing and communicating the QA information such as specifications, tolerances, tooling, expectations, etc. so that Production has all of the tools that they need to produce with exceptional INITIAL QUALITY.

    For right or for wrong, we’re delivering a QA/QC/QA sandwich where proactive QA information prepares production to CONTROL INITIAL QUALITY before our QA inspectors go and document the results of whether Production did or did not successfully exercise INITIAL QUALITY CONTROL.

  4. How does one get this point across to management? I’ve been trying for years and seem to be going backward. Any tips would be helpful.

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