Is Over Quality and Zero Defects Detrimental to Japanese Production?
Due to increasing demand for quality products, corrugated plants and paper box factories in Japan spare no effort to achieve zero defects. On the other hand some people say it is excessive quality. “If not zero defects, they throw that away? What a waste!” I examined how a corrugated plant in the UK is dealing with this issue.
“The corrugated company and its customers should agree on the finished quality of the product before order processing,” said the production manager of a big corrugated cardboard factory in the UK. Some Japanese might argue back that such an agreement works only in an established contract society with a spirit of rationalism. “It does not apply to businesses in Japan where the quality demand and the price competition are intensifying.”
But the production manager said, “Quality level is proportional to its price and the yield rate is inevitable in the production process. When the customer demands zero defects we will follow it but we have no choice but to ask for a price increase.”
Nowadays, the ratio of “bleached Liner-board” to “unbleached kraft liner-board” is getting higher. As more boxes are colorfully printed either by solid printing or process printing, press owners have to worry about pinholes on the surface of sheets that are caused by paper dust. They know it is almost impossible to clear paper dust or angel hairs completely off the surface of corrugated boards. Therefore, they try to reach a mutual agreement on the quality with their customers. Speaking of outer boxes for home appliances, different levels of quality are required for vacuum cleaners as well as beauty care equipment that feature female models. Needless to say, the former one requires a lower level of quality.
I was told that making bright red boxes of Royal Mail (national postal service) for home delivery is the most sensitive work at this factory. (see the photo) Two-color solid printing for light-weight coated paper is applied and the stamp of Her Majesty The Queen is printed. All boxes need to be made perfectly. A production lot is 6,500 per case, and the printing plate needs to be cleaned every 600-700 pieces of paper. Non-stop production was only realized after JB Machinery’s “Kleen Plate” was introduced as it is able to clean the printing plate while the machine is running.
I hope such new technology will reduce the burden and stress of on-site operators effectively.