iSixSigma

Clean Point

Definition of Clean Point:

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Overview: What is the Clean Point?

In a manufacturing environment, the clean point is the first output after a quality issue has been discovered and remedied. It is the signifier for the point where the product is again acceptable for customer satisfaction.

3 Drawbacks of a Clean Point

While it is necessary to halt production if an item is not meeting customer standards and fixing processes becomes paramount, it can be a large expense. It is a better strategy and can cost a fraction of the cost of implementing more error-preventive mechanisms at the onset.

1. Diminished customer confidence

Even if you get production back on track and are able to present customers with items from a clean point and they are satisfied with their merchandise going forward, the hiccup will always be in the back of their minds. This is bad for your business in that an element of trust has been breached, and customers will be less tolerant should even unrelated issues arise in the future.

2. Excessive costs

It is extremely expensive to stop everything in the middle of production to rework a design. You have everything from the cost of diverting the workforce to help address the problem, the loss associated with having to dump the defective goods,

3. Employee disengagement

Having to stop the production of an item, make the necessary fixes, and do the work all over again is bound to create some employee frustrations. This could cause some disengagement amongst your staff.

Why is a clean point important to understand?

Having a record of exactly where an improvement was made in production to show that an issue has been resolved is extremely important for a few reasons:

1. Tracking durability of machines

Being able to know when exactly in a production run a defective item had been addressed and remedied is important to gauge the long-term durability of your machine processes.

2. Maintaining relationships

Being able to show a customer that the issue that caused the product to not meet standards has been rectified is imperative in order to keep that customer and smooth the business relationship.

3. Tracking the long-term health of your business

There will be a myriad of costs associated with halting production and making changes. It is important to be able to accurately track how the changes improved business and also know when the associated costs were recovered.

An Industry Example of a Clean Point:

A record plant is tasked with making 10,000 copies of the latest Adele album for Columbia Records. Some test pressings are sent to the label, and the quality control department at Columbia finds that the vinyl has been poorly mastered by the plant. The coming shipment is deemed unacceptable. The plant makes the needed changes in the production, a clean point is established, and a new test pressing from the clean point is sent to Columbia. The run continues as planned.

3 Best Practices When Thinking About a Clean Point

There are several practices to keep in mind when thinking about a clean point. Here are a few:

1. Invest in preventative measures at the onset.

Investing in prevention costs that prevent issues from occurring during production is a much cheaper option than having to halt production, address an issue, and start again.

2. Make sure the fixes are not just temporary

If you have to halt production due to an issue, be sure to establish processes and remedies that are not just quick fixes but can continue working over the long-term in order to prevent further issues from arising.

3. Avoid further erosion of customer trust

Keep in mind that even if you have solved the problem, your customer’s confidence has been affected. It may take a long time and many uninterrupted runs for customer confidence to completely return.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about a Clean Point

1. What kind of cost is establishing a clean point considered?

It is part of containment which is considered an internal failure cost. Other parts of related internal failure costs include scrapping and reworking.

2. What are some inexpensive preventative measures that could prevent a halt in production from leading to the establishment of a clean point?

Control plans, preventative and predictive maintenance, process design improvements ahead of production, and operator training are all good examples of inexpensive preventative measures.

3. Is it possible to lose the customer even once a clean point is established?

Absolutely. It is vital to determine the correct root cause of the issue and have it addressed before production continues. The time necessary to do this right may turn out to be unacceptable to the customer. Therefore, all preventative measures that can be taken ahead of production should be.

Keeping Customers Happy With a Clean Point

Remember, while you may run into a situation where halting production, fixing your processes, and giving your customers their products from a clean point may allow you to finish the run, preventative measures done ahead of time are a much more inexpensive business strategy.

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