Sorting Challenge: Part 2

Last updated Feb 23, 2017


Our previous blog post, Sorting Challenge, discussed a situation where customers were complaining and rejecting bad product. This could be in a store or a factory with shelves, store rooms or warehouses filled with questionable product. The customer or boss said the problems had to stop NOW so you began a sorting or 100% inspection process. There was a time crunch because we had to make shipments to support sales. In three minutes you were to count the number of the letter ”G” in a story.

The correct answer is 75 G’s, big “G’s” and little “g’s”. How many did you find? Results usually vary from 60 to 85. That’s correct, 100% inspection is only about 85% effective. Especially if humans are doing it. Emailed results from last week’s post showed an average of 69.5 “G’s” identified, or 93% accuracy. Our customer is not happy.

But why does this occur? The time frame added pressure and so did the boss (there better not be any more problems). Boredom, unclear standards, poor lighting and the possibility that there are no more bade ones can lead to poor accuracy.

If you didn’t get 75 G’s, there are still going to be customer complaints and rejections. The complaint rate would be a lot lower but for most of us some of the bad ones are still there. If you counted more than 75 G’s we are throwing away good product. Remember the story of finding a needle in a hay stack? If the process makes one bad one, it will be very difficult to find.

The real key is the process making the product in the first place. We need to work with suppliers and our own processes to reduce variation and provide consistency so that there are no bad ones. We need to make sure we are aligned with customers on their requirements. And, we need to stop relying on sorting / 100% inspection to solve our problems.

Looking for assistance with improving your company’s current inspection system and/or processes?


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Adam Marsh

Adam Marsh

President, Ledge Inc.

Adam is a Penn State engineer that has served as a Data Analyst and Engineer at St. Onge Company for 5 years, prior to establishing Ledge Inc. While maintaining a focus on simple solutions, Ledge Inc. has provided quality system implementation, process design, database development, quality tools, quality training, and data analysis to over 35 companies in South Central Pennsylvania and throughout the country. Adam currently serves as the sitting Chair for American Society for Quality Harrisburg Section 503 and as a member of the board for The Manufacturers’ Associations of South Central PA.



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