Original Date: 05/01/2000
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Operator Self-Inspection and Product Assessment Program
Prior to June 1997, Northrop Grumman Defensive Systems Division’s (DSD’s) in-line inspections required a quality control inspector to perform 100% product checks at identified operations throughout the build of a product. Although production operators and inspection personnel received identical workmanship training, only the operators were responsible for their particular application with no accountability for the product acceptance. To improve this process, Northrop Grumman DSD transferred the responsibility of product in-process acceptance from the inspection organization to the manufacturing organization by establishing the Operator Self-Inspection and Product Assessment program.
The Operator Self-Inspection and Product Assessment program utilizes the production operators’ experience and training for product acceptance throughout the manufacturing process. This approach builds quality into the product rather than tries to inspect quality into the product. The program provides formal training and certification for the operators. Once they successfully complete the classes, operators are issued a unique stamp for acceptance of product and then must undergo 30 days of on-the-job training. Afterwards, operators can perform their own in- process inspection, acceptance, and sign-off. Inspections are limited to the tasks in which the certification is held.
The Operator Self-Inspection and Product Assessment program reinforces the personal responsibility of tasks. As a result, inspection personnel have become assessors of the process and product, while acting as coaches to the operators. Rather than 100% in-line inspections, random daily assessments of hardware and documentation are made to detect any errors made by operators during the manufacturing processes. Corrective action can then be done in real time while the work is still in the pipeline. The program also enables Northrop Grumman DSD to use defect summaries for its operators which provides a systematic method for identifying training needs.
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