The case of the sloppy spec
“Speed is only a question of money. How fast do you want to go?” This is as true on a packaging line as it was in the movie Mad Max.
Bobbie was qualifying a new cartoner. He had purchased an inkjet printer for coding and the code quality was horrible so he called me in.
I watched them try to run. The ink dots were spread out to the point of illegibility.
“Fiddlesticks on drifty dots,” I expostulated. “The cartoner is running too fast. The printer can’t keep up.”
“The blister machine will only run at 200 ppm so the cartoner will never run faster.” Bobbie explained. “Testing shows that the printer will run fine at speeds as fast as 250 ppm. The problem is with the validation department. The cartoner is rated to run at 300 cpm and they want to validate that.”
He continued: “When we selected the printer everyone agreed that there would never be a need to print faster than 200 ppm.”
“‘What we have here is a failure to communicate,” I told Bobbie (another movie quote). “Do you have any records of the speed discussion from before you bought the system?”
Bobbie was able to produce some meeting minutes showing that the speed issue had been discussed and validation agreed to back off to 250 ppm.
The moral of the story is:
- Get everyone to agree to the specifications before buying
- Get the agreement in writing.
- Get the agreement signed.