How To Use Red Bins For Quality In Manufacturing

The ‘Red Bin’ method is one that can have incredibly positive effects on quality improvement within the manufacturing industry. But you may not know what it is. Equally, you may have discounted it previously. 

Either way, we think red bins for quality checking in manufacturing are absolutely essential. This is for several reasons. It’s an easy process to set up, super budget friendly, and can yield fantastic results. So, if you’re not familiar with the red bin strategy, or need more convincing, let’s get into it.



What are Red Bins?

A ‘Red Bin’ is essentially a form of quality control and improvement practice. In the manufacturing industry, companies will implement a red container that is placed before every production line in which the operator can place defective parts. At regular intervals, the operating team can gather around this red container and analyse why the discarded parts were defective. It’s the central place for quality assurance. Red bins offer so much insight into what works, what doesn’t work, and how to make improvements for the future.



What do we gain from using Red Bins?

Fundamentally, the aim of manufacturing is to build with quality in mind; not a single defective part should exist, let alone exist beyond the process that created the defective. Red Bins allow the operators an effective insight into why the specific parts were defective, making the process of improvement much easier. The team can take a step back, analyse the defects, establish a root cause, and, ultimately, better avoid the problem occurring again.

Doesn’t that sound ideal?

The reason that Red Bins are so effective for producing high quality products in manufacturing is because it makes the investigation process far smoother. Think of it this way: it’s much easier to understand how and why a machine creates a bad part when it’s physically in the act of making those parts. Having to figure out why it made a bad part further down the line is a much more complex - and often impossible - task.



Some advice for implementing Red Bins to improve quality

Successfully implementing Red Bins into your company can be a long process. But it’s worth the effort. Although the idea sounds rather simple, lots of issues can arise - most of which will centre around company debates regarding who manages what and whether the necessary resources to do so are available. In many companies, depending on the size of the manufacturing plant, it won’t be a simple case of checking the defective parts on a ‘now-and-then’ basis. There will need to be a thorough routine including management organisation and schedules.

If your quality supervisors decide to only check the red bins whenever they feel like it, for example, there’s a good chance the bins will start overflowing, leading to a large, unwanted build-up of defective parts laying around the workplace waiting for inspection. Instead of winging it, gather a team of production and quality managers, discuss what process would be the most effective and realistic, and then put those plans into action. The solution is different for every company, and it’ll evolve over time. The most important thing to consider, however, is teamwork.

If, when implementing a Red Bin strategy, you’re able to create a platform in which the operators, quality supervisors, and technicians can engage in proactive discussions, you will see quality improvements in no time.

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