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10 SMT007 MAGAZINE I JANUARY 2021 Feature Interview by the I-Connect007 Editorial Team X=X c – 1 is a conceptual equation for con- tinuous improvement. You define X and work to reduce it by a factor of 1. This could be one work hour, one process step, one day less in a cycle, and so on. We recently met with Dr. Ron Lasky to discuss the concept of X=X c – 1 and get his advice on generating enthusiasm among readers and the next generation about continuous improvement. As this discussion illustrates, many process improvements are small in scale, not yearlong, major efforts. Nolan Johnson: Continuous improvement is not a new idea, but we would like to shine a light on the idea of "X=X c – 1." To do this, first, you define what X is, and then you make an action plan to reduce it by one. It could be reducing your design spins, the number of steps in your process, or the number of gates in manufacturing. It could be any approach where you can incrementally improve, take something out, and get it done with fewer steps and iterations. Happy Holden: It's the concept of solid base hits rather than going for the home run all the time. Ron Lasky: It's sort of a formulaic approach, but maybe that's better. Continuous improvement is the essence of Lean Six Sigma. There is a term in Lean Six Sigma called DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, and control), assuming you want to improve something. You define what it is that you want to improve (D). You measure where you are (M). You col- lect some data and analyze it (A). Then, you improve it (I), usually with a designed experi- ment. Once that's all set up, you must develop a plan to control it (C). That's statistical pro- cess control. For example, let's say a small mom-and-pop shop collected the data for the year 2020, and they found that at the end of the line before repair, they had 2% fallout: 2% of the boards had to be repaired. They collected the data in a Pareto chart. If they made 100,000 boards, they had about 2,000 boards that were defective, and they found that the primary defect was shorts. That was 1,200, and then the second defect was a missing component and on down Continuous Improvement: As Simple as X = X c – 1

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