Jill Jusko, IndustryWeek

A Quality Look at QEE

April 13, 2023
Vita-Mix employs a novel quality metric to measure finished goods and product quality.

You’re keeping an eye on first pass yield, regularly reviewing your warranty costs and doing your best to drive down in-plant defects. Quality is a prime concern among most manufacturers, and the just-cited indicators are among those typically tracked by quality departments.

But what about quality employee effectiveness? Is that a measure on your radar?

Probably not, but maybe it should be. QEE is a quality measure created internally by Vita-Mix Corp., the Cleveland-area manufacturer best known for its high-performance blenders.

Vita-Mix’s reputation for quality is well-established. Do a Google search on “best blenders,” and Vitamix kitchen appliances reliably grab a top spot among the results. Just last year, Wirecutter, the product review site owned by the New York Times, wrote, “In our tests, from 2012 to now, Vitamix blenders have always performed the best overall.” And Food & Wine magazine more recently stated, “Vitamix has become the go-to for chefs and in-the-know home cooks who want the best blender on the market.”

Given Vita-mix’s quality bona fides, a review of QEE seems in order.

Quality employee effectiveness measures finished goods and production quality. “We developed this metric to capture all of our ‘pain points,’ so to speak, so we can accurately record our quality and production challenges and work on them for improvement,” quality manager Rajesh Saigal says.

See Also: Vitamix: Building a Culture of Continuous Improvement with Quick and Easy Kaizen Cards 

It’s not a new metric for the company, but it has evolved over time. The current version has been employed for about the last six-and-a-half years.

How QEE Works

Like overall equipment effectiveness, or OEE—a manufacturing metric that has been gaining popularity—QEE is calculated by multiplying three individual metrics: finished goods auditsprocess audits and first pass yield.

  • Finished goods audits (FGA) are random audits conducted by quality team members at the end of the production line against a checklist of criteria, “basically mimicking the customer experience,” Saigal says.
  • Process audits (PA) are performed twice a day. Also conducted by the quality team, these audits are random, unannounced and they review the pro- cesses on the production floor. The teams check a host of different items, such as torque settings, calibration on critical equipment and electrical settings, among others.
  • First pass yield (FPY) looks at the number of products repaired or reworked on the line. Three repaired or reworked items out of 100 scores a first pass yield of 97%, for example.

The final measure is calculated: QEE = FGA x PA x FPY.

As with any metric, missing the QEE goal is a cause for concern. Saigal uses the wealth of data captured by the metric to identify top issues impacting finished goods and production quality. With its long history of lean and continuous improvement, Vita-Mix possesses a strong process to implement corrective actions.

The manufacturer recently reviewed its QEE metric with the question: Is it still working for us? The answer is yes, according to Saigal. “Unless somebody comes up with something nice and revolutionary, we are capturing everything we need to with this metric,” he says.


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