Bobby and I were swapping sea stories and discussing life in general and I brought out a couple of colas. Bobby had trouble getting his open while, on mine, the cap didn't seem as tight as I expected. "Seems like they have some variation in their capper," he commented.
"I noticed that, too," I replied. "Though it may well be in the caps and bottles, too."
"I've never understood why companies permit that. I assume that they are not shipping bad product. It must meet specification, right?" Bobby said.
"Bobby, you nailed it. That is exactly the problem. Most companies use the traditional quality definition of 'within specification limits' or some variation on that theme. That's really just another way of saying something is 'good enough' and we all know that good enough seldom is."
"I hear you, KC, but it seems like something we just have to live with, isn't it?"
"Fiddlesticks on good enough," I told him. "Companies need to define quality as absence of variation. All processes have variation and no company will ever make a perfect product, but the traditional definition allows for sloppiness. The absence of variation definition forces a continuous improvement or kaizen mindset of always striving for that ‘quality’ product.
"It's a cost issue too. The company should read up on the Taguchi loss function. Even slight variations cause loss of customer satisfaction and that means real dollars in sales and profit."
When it comes to quality, the best surprise is no surprise.
Known as the Changeover Wizard, John R. Henry is the owner of Changeover.com, a consulting firm that helps companies find and fix the causes of inefficiencies in their packaging operations. He has written the book, literally, on packaging machinery (www.packmachbook.com) and is the face and personality behind packaging detective KC Boxbottom, the main character in Adventures in Packaging, a popular blog on packagingdigest.com.