New First-Defect-Stop Guide Puts Lean Management Principles to Work in the Laboratory

Problem visualization method for laboratory weighing errors using Andon warning light on balance.

This First-Defect-Stop guide, titled “Minimize Errors in Weighing”, is a trouble-shooting tool designed to support laboratory personnel to identify specific problems with a laboratory balance, such as long settling times or unstable readings.

Lean Management techniques applied to the laboratory have been shown to improve quality and efficiency. The principle of First-Defect-Stop for laboratory weighing is designed to help laboratory personnel strengthen lab processes and identify incorrect results before they have the chance to have negative consequences on downstream processes.

If a problem is detected, the “First-Defect-Stop” procedure should be triggered. The aim of First-Defect-Stop is to enable a laboratory technician to stop the process, identify a problem and resolve it within a few minutes, by following a checklist, for example. However, if the problem cannot be resolved quickly or easily, the procedure should involve escalation of the issue, such as to notify the supervisor or third party service provider. The ultimate goal, of course, is not just to solve the problem once, but to address the cause and eliminate it, in order to prevent recurrence of the error. Repeatedly ignoring the root cause of the problem is foolhardy, because it simply leads to inefficiency and further errors downstream, causing inaccurate results, poor reproducibility and extended lead times.

The METTLER TOLEDO “First-Defect-Stop Guide” shows how critical lean management concepts are applied to the lab. The guide is based on the Japanese Lean Manufacturing principles:

  • Jidoka—which means empowering machines or operators to stop production…

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