Thursday, October 4, 2018

Time constraints are an integral part of the inspection process

One of my jobs used to be to inspect the paint on vehicles.

The vehicles being inspected moved down the line at a rate of one every fifty seconds. I had to inspect one side. If defects were found, I had to circle them with a wax pencil and enter all of them into a computer with the type of defect and their location. It could be a very busy job.

There was one inspector who found ten twenty times the number of defects per vehicle than the next highest inspector. He darted his head around like a chicken looking for bugs. He stood tippy-toed. He crouched down. If it might-maybe be a defect he knocked it down.

Part of the problem was the way the spec was interpreted by the final inspection. There was a size spec for "dirt" which sounds very objective but the final inspection used the size of the pup-tent in the clear-coat layer and we had been directed to use their interpretation.

The apparent size of the disruption in the clear-coat was highly dependent on the visual angle. Most people would look at it from one angle and say, "Naw, its in spec." But not Rainman. Nope. He would slowly scan it trying to make it fail.

If challenged, he was always able to demonstrate, "It is out of spec..look at it from right...here..." and sure enough, you could see the disruption was larger than the spec.

The point is that the time constraints are an integral part of the inspection process. Every vehicle we produced had clear-coat disruptions that were out of spec but almost nobody would notice them. And NOBODY would notice them after the vehicle picked up three days of road dust and the paint lost some of its gloss.

The other take-away is that repairing the disruption thinned the clear-coat and made it more vulnerable to damage from ultraviolet light. Personally, I would prefer that the repair people never buff out the disruptions because I value high integrity paint over transient, cosmetic beauty.

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