An Inspection Type PMs is Intrinsically a Non-Value Added Activity


I’ve been engaged in a very spirited debate with a colleague of mine regarding inspection type PMs and specifically if these types of PMs are value added or non-value added.  I take a traditional approach to the phrase “value added,” insomuch as to believe for a task to be value added it must satisfy three attributes:  we do the task right the first time, the customer is willing to pay for that task, and the task ‘physically’ changes the ‘thing’ that we are working on.  My colleague, Steve, very passionately makes the case that the ‘physical’ change characteristic of the traditional value added determination doesn’t necessarily apply to an inspection type PM.  I have to tell you, Steve makes a strong case.

To be clear, I contend that an inspection (inspection only) PM does not ADD value because we aren’t changing the component we are inspecting.  Since this is a non-value added task, and is a required task to boot, we have to really make sure that we do it right the first time, be mindful that production is paying us to do it, and spend the least time possible executing it.  For example, if you have an inspection PM that takes 2 hours to complete, and you’ve been doing it for 5 years; someone ought to be trying to reduce that PM to 1.5 hours.

Steve agrees that the inspection PM does not physically change the item being inspected, but a ‘certification’ that the component will last X number of days ADDs value to the inspection and thus the inspection PM.  He gives the real world example of a transmission manufacturing plant.  The customer requires that the transmission be run on a test-bench and that it is ‘certified’ as functional within all the parameters.  Running this test on the transmission and creating the documented certification ADDs value to the transmission.  The customer finds an elevated value in this certification and thus the test run (or bench test) is value added.

I’m not sold yet, but Steve is a great friend and a very exceptional reliability expert.  I acknowledged his mentorship in my first book The Reliability Excellence Workbook, From Ideas to Action.

Please help me and Steve settle this debate.  Let me hear from you and let me know your thoughts on this topic.  Are inspection type PMs intrinsically non-value added?