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46 SMT007 MAGAZINE I JULY 2021 Feature Article by Ben Gumpert LOCKHEED MARTIN "Why do we do it that way?" "Because we always have." ose can be some of the most dreaded words on the manufacturing floor. It means that someone decided at one point to do things a certain way, and you don't know whether it's a critical aspect of the assembly process, or just another roadblock to improvement. Knowl- edge is a significant asset to manufacturing; it is critical for manufacturing a reliable prod- uct, and effectively managing tribal knowledge is more important than ever as people change roles oen. Not only does it require effort to bring new people up to speed, but it is also dif- ficult for those who are moving on to convey everything they've done ("Why did they make that change?"). is tribal knowledge concerning the how and why of an assembly process is not unique to one group; it includes knowledge held by all roles in manufacturing, such as assem- blers, engineers, and quality assurance. It can be an assembly-specific item about target con- ditions, methods that make the process easier or more consistent, or what tooling to use and how. Even documented requirements can be affected, with variations in the interpretation of standards or engineering requirements. Con- sistency in the manufacturing process is key to identifying problems, whether it's a rash of acceptance test failures or long-term reliability trends. e fewer variables that need to be con- sidered, the more confident one can be about impacts of those variables. Although it is desir- able to maximize flexibility for the process, it must be done without compromising consis- tency and quality, which lead to reliability. What is Your Process? Most groups use a variety of methods to cap- ture tribal information. Work instructions can be the most obvious and are oen used as cor- rective action when problems surface. Add- ing detailed instructions can be helpful, but too much can have the opposite effect, as an assembler may stop reading when they think they get the point. Pictures and videos can convey a great amount of information quickly, but key points may need to be emphasized, and changes to the design may drive the need for frequent updates. Knowledge Continuity in Manufacturing

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