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Describe the Initial Problem Perception Supply Chain Discussion Questions


Defective Steel in a New Aircraft Airplane manufacturer Piper Aircraft Inc. issued a Mandatory Service Bulletin grounding 76 new aircraft manufactured during the first five months of the year. Thirty-nine of the airplanes were in customers’ hands, and the rest were at dealers or at the Piper fac-tory. The bulletin was issued after a production-line worker noted a bent seatbelt bracket in a new airplane. The defective bracket had been fabricated of high-strength steel that should have been very difficult to bend. Investigation revealed that the steel was insuffi-ciently strong. Piper traced the steel to a particular order and deter-mined that a large number of other aircraft parts requiring the use of high-strength steel were manufactured from the same batch of steel. This signaled a flight-safety issue resulting in the grounding order and meant that Piper must locate, remove, and replace all the affected parts in all the airplanes. Grounding a fleet of airplanes is a costly move. Piper had to absorb the cost of repairs, many of which were very difficult and, therefore, expensive. In addition, with half the airplanes scattered all over the globe, the manufacturer endured significant travel costs just getting to the planes. On the other hand, owners of the air-planes had to bear the cost of lost productive flight time while their planes remained grounded. The extent of damage to Piper’s reputa-tion, along with customer loyalty and satisfaction could have, if not handled smartly, posed a blow to the company’s future bottom line—all from a single order of high-strength steel. It was clearly in the interest of all parties to find and eliminate the root cause of the problem. This information was known at the start of the investigation: ■ Piper purchased this batch of high-strength steel from its sup-plier, Wilco Inc. of Wichita, Kansas.

■ Wilco sent the raw (untreated) sheet steel to Certified Steel Treating, a Los Angeles company, to be “normalized” in a process that heats the steel to specified temperatures and then cools it at a controlled rate to increase its strength.

â–  Then, as required for all normalized steel, it was sent to an independent lab for testing.

â–  The steel and its certifying paperwork (which was all in order) subsequently went to Piper in Florida where it was used in the manufacture of critical aircraft parts.

Discussion Questions Using the information available here, apply the seven steps of the Practical Problem-Solving Process. 1. Describe the initial problem perception. 2. Clarify the problem and set an improvement objective. 3. Determine the most likely point of cause (POC). 4. Suggest a root cause. 5. Develop a plausible countermeasure.


An auto manufacturer plans to build a new car for the low-price end of the market. You and your fellow class members represent employees of the manufacturer and you have been asked to plan for making sure that the new car will be a hit with the customer popu-lation. As a team, you have determined that employing QFD would be the best way to do that. 1. Describe how you would obtain VOC input. 2. Your team has collected VOC input, including the following customer wants/needs: Low price

Fun to drive

Fuel efficient Comfortable

Built to last Reliable Up-to-date technology

Cheap to operate Seating for 4 or 5 Attractive styling Safe

Easy to maintain

How should your team process these inputs to become the VOC customer needs, or WHATs?

3. Describe the steps that might be used to build the Planning matrix.

4. Describe how the Technical Requirements matrix (HOW the company intends to respond to the VOC needs/wants) is constructed. 5. Illustrate the method for evaluating the interrelationships be-tween the WHATs and HOWs.

6. We will assume that the technical requirements (HOWs) have been distilled to the following: Operating economy

Handling Low weight

Fuel efficiency Reliability/dura-bility

Comfort/safety Technology Cost control

As best you can, determine the direction of correlation be-tween these technical requirements (HOWs).

7. Describe how the design targets are established


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