Process Control at Polaroid (A) Case Solution & Answer

Process Control at Polaroid (A) Case Solution


Polaroid is a company pioneered consumer friendly instant cameras and films. It did not just revolutionize photography but also excelled at customer service. Polaroid was founded in 1937 by an American scientist: Edwin H. Land. The company used polarized technology i.e. an optical filter for creating all kind of zany products, such as: glare-reducing goggles for dogs and 3D movies. After developing the polarized camera; the company successfully led the instant photography market. The main line of business of Polaroid was instant photography and the two divisions that accounted 40 percent of the total revenues of Polaroid for 1984, included:Technical and Industrial Division and Consumer Photography Division(Officials, 2020).

The case sets out to discuss the initial move of the film production plant to shift from a traditional QC inspection to operator-based process control.

Background to the situation

At R2 plant; the quality control processes were inefficient as well as traditionally based on destructive sampling. Thus, the sampling created scrap and destroyed perfectly good product. The accelerated efforts of the company towards implementing Project Green light stressed over the significance of operator based statistical process control (SPC). The Project Green light was intended to cut the cost while improving or maintaining the quality of the product. However, the defects detected by the quality auditors rose by 10 times, whereas the defects reported in the production processes reduced to half. The cost of sampled scrap in quality control was 540000 dollars in 1984, whereas the defective returns was 2 million dollar and operator sampled scrap was 740000 dollar.

The quality of the instant film manufactured in R2 plant was due to the irresponsibility of two groups,i.e. quality auditors and production operators. The production operators sampled 32 cartridges out of a lot of five thousands’ lot and took the measurement of various parameters with core consideration on assessing the product’s quality. They came to reject one percent of the production and they didn’t record data in a frequent manner. While quality auditors sampled 20 finished cartridges from the five thousands lot, to see for the defects and rejected 50 cartridges that were over one percent of the products.

There was no control limit that could have been used to determine the criteria of rejection. The production operator just rejected the lot on the basis of the understanding and knowledge of the equipment. Furthermore, the production operators used to tweak the machines based on their personal experience for the delivery of product’s quality.

In reference to exhibit 4 and 5 of case; it can be analyzed that the output quality of R2 plant has reduced.  The factors that contributes to the quality of the products are various. The R2 plant doesn’t inspect for the kinds of defects that are highly noticed by the consumers. Rather, it tends to inspect for more hidden as well as technical defects. The production operators were not following the guidelines to interpret the control charts as various flaws were assessed by the quality control when the process ended. There were many problems that were not considered as important by the operators, which in turn resulted in the rejection by quality control at the end of the process. Due to the reason that production operators tweaks machines, which does not meet the limit of process control, resulting in a greater inconsistency within the process. Due to these reasons; the overall quality of the product had declined with the implementation of Project Green Light.

Identify the problem(s) Polaroid is struggling with

For the manager, heading the operator based statistical process control (SPC); the main area of concern is the perception of the SPC. Furthermore, the external customer complaint tends to take 8 months in order to be able to comment conclusively on the quality’s effects. At the same time;the manager is concerned about instilling-sureness in the management of the organization that his project don’t turn out not be of compromised quality. Furthermore, the manager needs to convince the staff that quality comes from capable as well as controlled processes rather than from tweaking the machines………………..

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