A Universe with Zero Defects

Conserve, Economize, Recycle, are some of the methods being used by industry to counteract wastefulness. Manufacturing organizations are challenging the so-called "margin for error. They are becoming increasingly aware that there is no longer any justification for piles of scrapped parts at assembly lines just because, in the past, mistakes have been regarded as inevitable. Through a campaign called "Zero Defects," much progress is being made in avoiding costly errors by a very simple method: alerting workers to the feasibility of doing their jobs right the first time.

One of my assignments as an engineer was to design a machine capable of automatically spreading glue on the flaps of detergent boxes. When I gave the detailed drawings to the machine-shop foreman to fabricate the machine, he followed them without the need to consult me at all. Commenting on this when the machine was installed and working satisfactorily, he confided he had enjoyed working with my drawings because everything was so well thought out. He said this was in contrast to methods used by some engineers—try this, try that, scrap this, scrap that, until they got it right.

Making the Effort
February 19, 1977

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