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A structured problem solving process to improve Cost of Poor Quality and Right First Time

A structured problem solving process to improve Cost of Poor Quality and Right First Time


This Sharing in Growth beneficiary produces complex compressor and gas turbine blades using multi-axis milling, grinding and metrology equipment. As a first-tier precision, sub-contract machinist for ‘blue-chip’ OEMs such as Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, Cummins, Siemens and Alstom, the company works together with customers as a preferred supplier on long-term projects.

The Challenge

The quality performance to their customers is good. However due to the tight tolerances and the challenging nature of the products that are manufactured, the internal Cost of Poor Quality (CoPQ) in FY14 was 7.3% of sales revenue and Right First Time (RFT) performance was at 60% as an average across the business.

 The Objectives

To improve the CoPQ and RFT using structured problem solving techniques and upskill the team to continue to apply these techniques in the future.

Learn by doing


Following the traditional ‘learn by doing’ approach, working with the client’s cross functional team – from machine operators to the operations director – to analyse the quality data and understand which part numbers were contributing to the quality issues. The team highlighted one part number to focus on, which accounted for £55k of the CoPQ and was running at 43% RFT. The team then went on to manually monitor critical dimensions using run charts on the machine. The variation on these critical features were causing dimensional errors and the team were lead through a structured problem solving process, to identify the potential causes of this variation. The most likely causes were then highlighted and actions were put in place to either eliminate these items from the investigations or to quantify and then eradicate the variation that this issue introduced to the process. Over the period of one month, daily reviews were held with the team to discuss action status and remove any obstacles to ensure actions were effectively implemented by the team.


  •  The team was taken through a structured problem solving process and is now able to apply this to other products and processes.
  •  The RFT performance on this part was improved from 43% to 99% in five weeks.
  •  It was recognised that 99% RFT was not good enough and there was further scope to improve so now 100% RFT has been consistently achieved.
  •  CoPQ was reduced by 5%.
  •  This had a direct impact on productivity, allowing greater output through a constrained resource.
  •  At the beginning of the project there was an acceptance that this level of quality performance was ‘the best it could be on such a complex product’. Morale of the team was, therefore, massively improved when they saw the impact of their actions.


“This was a key project to enable us to win back credibility with a critical customer. The project was a great success, and more importantly, the learning was passed on to two further product families, with similar success. By giving our personnel the training and tools to resolve issues such as this, it makes the company much stronger for the future”.

 – Operations Director

Manufacturing Review 2019/20. FREE Copy Here.
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