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Eliminating Human Error Doesn't Require Robots.

One of the more mystifying or frustrating requirements in clause 8.5.1 of 9001:2015 is “the implementation of actions to prevent human error.” (If “oops” or “we forgot” is your most common NC response, this applies to you!) Beyond the immediate options of robots/cobots, CNC programs, and fixtures, here are a few ideas we have seen, that may spark an improvement for you:

  • Shift from using final inspection to catch all bad parts, to building quality in at the source, by using qualified peer inspection on process first pieces and periodically at critical steps.

  • Tie your inspection AQL to current internal and external reject levels. If rejects increase, inspect more until the cause is found and rejects drop.

  • Organize long pick lists to match customer Bill of Materials for easier verification, or by part# or bin# to streamline collection. Use barcode verification to ensure correct items are picked.

  • For hardware installation or assembly, load bulk components into containers of different colors, sizes or shapes; and label containers to match indicators on the print.

  • Document variations (those “except-when” moments), and decision criteria, within processes. Flow charts and sub-bullets are helpful.

  • In production, ensure that manufacturing instructions/travelers include all needed steps, all verification/testing tasks & results, and detailed info when actions vary from the norm.

  • For temp workers, provide checklists, and train on the required paperwork for their new assignment, to ensure records remain complete.

  • Use shared calendars to prompt for infrequent tasks like internal audits and management reviews, in addition to standard meetings.

  • After orientation, ask new hires and those with new responsibilities to review the current process documents and note anything that differs from the instructions they were given. MANY processes changed during COVID, so capture improvements in updated documentation.

  • Use data collection and analysis to find process/product/satisfaction risks, and gaps in operational consistency. Present trend info from each department to management review and discuss causes for variation from Key Process Indicators.

  • Organize and update SDS binders annually to ensure accessibility in an emergency. Finally: Encourage process ownership by recognizing/rewarding suggestions to improve documents, streamline processes, or find safety/resource needs.


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