Baker Hughes INTEQ, a mid‐size manufacturing operation, has successfully developed and implemented an innovative, visual, in‐process inspection programme that can be used on any of the firm's highly technical products. This method of logical and systematic inspection creates a reliable, cost‐effective product geared towards today's fast‐paced manufacturing market, providing an alternative to expensive automated inspection equipment. This quality system monitors and records the assembly operation while allowing for continuous improvement to an already tight process control. The first step uses the flowchart method to teach assembly/inspection personnel a logical process of 100% inspection to replace random checking of the assembly. The next step introduces self‐inspection by systematically removing conventional inspection operations over a short period; the results are faster output, improved first time acceptance rates (less rework), and a higher quality product. For companies implementing visual in‐process inspection there are a number of factors to consider: temporary vs permanent employees, employee attitude, and workmanship standards. Implementation of this programme has been highly effective, reducing rework costs by approximately $10,000 per month. This paper explains how the visual, in‐process inspection programme was developed and implemented and how it can be used on any highly technical product. The programme is designed around a manufacturing cell (work area) concept that gives ‘power to the employees’ and leaves out the ‘traditional’ quality/manufacturing process.
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