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Enter a heavy manufacturing facility, and you will likely hear the ‘clank, clank, clank’ of metal hammers, or the dull thud of a dead blow hammer. Hammers are used to compensate for a quality problem elsewhere. In most cases, they are used to ‘adjust’ a component, or install something that was designed with too little tolerance to be easily assembled.

Hammers greatly increase the risk of injury, even if it is minor. People constantly bonk themselves—whether a thumb, or banging it against their knee. Hammers often create an additional quality issue if paint is damaged, or if it dings a component. There is also the added unpleasantness of the constant noise. It raises tension in people to be constantly exposed to abrasive sounds.

Hammers also run counter to the notion of doing a task right the first time, and of never shipping poor quality. The need to use a hammer is a good indicator that something is not to spec. Pounding a part into submission is not the right way to achieve quality. Grinders and other ‘adjusting tools’ like pry bars fall into the same categories.

  1. Do an audit of your production areas and see where hammers are in use.
  2. Differentiate between valid uses of hammers and those that are being used to overcome poor tolerances or other production problems.
  3. Challenge the valid uses. In most cases, there is a better way to do things. (i.e. use a clamp or press to seat parts in a fixture rather than a hammer.)
  4. Identify the problems that the hammers are being used to fix.
  5. Track down the root cause of those problems.
  6. Eliminate those root causes.


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