Built-in Quality

Built-In Quality places continuous improvement at the center of your entire production process, ensuring quality is built into the process—and products—from the get-go. Long-term, this strategy allows you to deliver much more value to the end-consumer using fewer resources.

Built-In Quality Online Video Course

As part of our growing School of Lean library of course, our Built-In Quality course will guide you from the basics to being certification-ready.

Through this course you will learn how to make lasting changes as well as how to decide where to start making your improvements.

Built-In Quality System

Built-In Quality is a five-stage system for preventing and eliminating defects and quality issues in the production process. Here’s a quick breakdown of what happens at each stage.

  • Level One: Level One introduces the idea of checking quality. This might take the form of a formal quality control department or simply introducing inspections into the production workflow.
  • Level Two: At Level Two, we introduce the concept of a “quality gate” that brings in-line inspection into the production process to check for hidden issues. This stage also includes introducing a feedback system for reporting on quality issues and taking corrective action.
  • Level Three: At Level Three, you’ll introduce the “self-check.” This means that each team member is able to check their own work and know that they are passing on only good products.
  • Level Four: At Level Four, we introduce “stop and call,” using either an andon (a visual signal for summoning help) or fixed-position stop system to catch and contain defects as they happen. The idea is to give workers a way to halt production and call for help.
  • Level Five: Finally, at Level Five, we introduce the idea of “Don’t Accept Poor Quality,” which aims to tackle quality issues at the supplier level. When quality problems are discovered, workers must alert the supplier. The supplier will then take on receiving inspection themselves, thus reducing in-house inspections.

How to Practice Built-In Quality

Practicing Built-In Quality requires a shift in mindset.

Everyone on the team—at every level—must start thinking about their work within the context of Lean’s continuous improvement culture.

Lean’s focus on improvement must permeate every work process, policy, and decision that shapes internal workflows and the quality control process.

Here are some key things to think about as you consider implementing this strategy:

  • Defects are not accepted. The goal of the Built-In Quality process is to eliminate waste in the production process. As such, defects are not to be created or allowed to progress through the production process.
  • Defects can’t move forward. All quality issues must be resolved as they happen. That means they must be solved at the same stage of work where they are created and/or discovered.
  • Teams should be empowered to take action. Workers at all levels must have the ability to fix a problem as it’s discovered, escalate a problem, or call for help, if necessary.
  • Standard processes and policies are critical. Clear standards for what “value” and “quality” look like within your organization should be communicated at every stage in the workflow.

Learn more about introducing Built-In Quality to your organization, whether you’re in an office or manning the production line.

In Gemba Academy’s Built-In Quality training course, you’ll hear from Lean expert and Toyota veteran Chris Schrandt. Watch the first installment in our 12-part series free to see the course material for yourself.


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