July 2015

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Inspection Discomfort a Silent Killer

It’s time to examine the tools and the questions your inspectors are being asked to complete.
Harry Kohal
Harry Kohal,
Eagle Technology, Inc.

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Every organization does its best to comply with legal and self-directed inspections. Many of the inspections have been in place for years and perhaps decades, using paper, EXCEL, or some formal document that has been passed down from inspector to inspector and these inspections are diligently executed month after month, or over whatever time period the inspection is supposed to be done. In manufacturing, there are daily startup checklists that hang by machines and the operators execute as they begin their days work.

After working with many organizations over the past several years, I have developed what I call Inspection Discomfort. The symptoms of this malady include 1) doing exactly what the person thinks the inspection is supposed to be, 2) doing exactly what the check list says to do, and 3) doing the inspection checklist as it is written! 4) it creates a false sense of accomplishment in the organization.

You ask, “So what’s wrong with that”?

When is the last time you reviewed your checklists? When is the last time you have actually analyzed why you are doing the inspection, for who, and how frequently should it be done and is that adequate?

A recent inspection checklist a company was using called for the inspector to inspect food court vendors. The inspection checklist options were, passed or needs attention.  One of the items on the checklist was sprinkler heads.  Is the inspector seeing if they exist?  I assume if they existed once, you would never have to check again, so why was this on a monthly inspection checklist? The answer was simple, the inspector was checking to see if a) there was at least 18 inches of clearance under the sprinkler head and b) there were no signs of visible corrosion. Now that makes sense!

Another checklist for a shop inspection allowed for Good and OK as the two options the inspector could use. I have a hard time determining what the difference in those choices is, as I suspect the inspector did too. One inspector might think it is Good, and the next person doing the inspection might think it’s OK. Are both wrong or are they both right? To complicate matters, one of the inspection items was Fire Extinguisher.  Is it Good or OK?

Wow, I’m confused!

These two examples are the tip of the iceberg! The real question is how much time is your organization wasting on inspections that yield inconsistent and poor data?

With today’s technology, inspections need to be precise and the results of the inspections have to be meaningful.  Everyone in the organization who has a stake in the outcome needs to have the information available in a form that is meaningful and actionable. Is your current approach offering this, or are you wasting your time?  No one has time to filter through a pile of paper.

If you have a machine start-up checklist, and one of the inspection points is to add oil if necessary, what if it is necessary every day, and it gets done. What do you really need to know from this step? Might you want to know that oil is being added every day? Should one of the questions in the checklist be Did you add oil? Then there is the question of when do I want to know, is it ok if I find this out six months later?

Facility inspections are only as good as the questions being asked on the inspection and the ability to act quickly on defects when found during the inspection. Paper forms lack totally in this area. 

Control Solutions, Inc Inspections today allow for the instant creation of a work order, integrating the result of the failed inspection with a trackable correction. It allows for immediate visual and textual communication with a contractor to remediate the problem, and just as importantly, immediate notification of the inspection status in a visual display available to anyone concerned.  The results over time should also be quantifiable, and searchable. If there is a persistent issue in a certain location, that analysis is based on sound data, not an “I think”.

In answer to your “So What’s wrong with that?  I answer – Everything. It’s time to examine the tools and the questions your inspectors are being asked to complete. An inspector cannot walk into an area and know if everyone is trained in biohazard waste procedures, or Answer a question “what would you do if there was a chemical spill? (Y N or N/A), yet these are questions I have seen on inspection check lists.

Maybe it’s time to examine for Inspection Discomfort in your organization, it’s a disease that many organizations have and it’s a silent killer of time and money.

Eagle Technology and Raxar provide clients solutions for inspection and maintenance.


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