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Inspection vs Prevention

100% inspection is at best 80% effective. Businesses that use inspection to drive in quality for their customers pay a heavy price for doing this. If you’re running at six Sigma that means that you have 3.4 DPMO (Defects Per Million Opportunities). This is a rate of one defect per 294,000 opportunities. How will you ever find that defect through inspection? The best businesses operate by preventing defects in the first place.


Does a business understand what a defect is? I received a scanner recently that had switches and lights on the front panel. Unbeknownst to me the on/off switch was located on the back right side towards the bottom of the device. With no guidance on where to find the on/off switch I fiddled with the switches and lights in the front to frustration that I could not get the device on. I returned it and ordered another one. It showed up the same way however at that time I went online and searched for the location of the on off switch. I found it. That was a defect.


The fact that I returned the device with a high level of frustration and loss of time made this a situation with a defect. I have seen products, from a reputable American company, produced in China that have been highly defective. Is that because of China or because of the American companies inability to teach quality?



Lean Business believes that if a company is not working diligently with prevention then they should look towards Lean Six Sigma to move them in that direction.


There is a process to move from Inspection to Prevention. It is not a one step process, nor is it a process that gets to the final destination in one pass. The journey is a migration.


The benefit of quality is that it also decreases cost and increases customer satisfaction. It is the process, not the people, which is most responsible for attaining high quality.

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