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Reproducibility is the ability of a process to be duplicated by multiple people.

This concept is understood and highly valued in both the scientific method and when creating measurement systems. In fact, in gauge R&R, one of the “R’s” stands for reproducibility (the other is repeatability). We recognize that a measurement or a scientific breakthrough has limited value if it only applies to a single individual.

We don’t tend to put the same level of scrutiny on our processes, though. In many cases, each person will perform the same task in their own manner, yielding different results.

Making a reproducible process faces an emotional challenge, not a logical one. If you lay out the facts supporting reproducibility, most people agree with the theory behind it. They understand that if a job is done two different ways, it will be difficult to get the same quality produced in the same amount of time.

But that logic butts up against emotion. People don’t like to be told what to do. They don’t like to be told that somebody else does a job better than they do. They like flexibility in their jobs. Each of these things presents a barrier to the structure that is required for reproducibility.

If you want to make reproducible processes, you’ll likely have to make several changes in how you manage your operation.

  • Rotate jobs. If more people do the same job on a regular basis, disparity stands out more. If there is only an occasional backup who performs the task, differences tend to be explained away by an experience.
  • Focus on industrial discipline. Make sure you set standards and follow them. One of the biggest challenges of creating a reproducible process is that people don’t follow the process. Create the attitude that doing things the right way is important.
  • Give people a creative outlet. People get bored having to do the exact same thing all day long. In addition to job rotation, pull people out of their typical role to participate in continuous improvement Breaking up the monotony prevents them from feeling like robots.


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