Polaroid Case Study Essay

3651 Words Apr 25th, 2010 15 Pages
BACKDROP

Polaroid is manufacturer of photographic equipment, accessories and related items used in instant photography. The organization was divided into two main divisions – The Consumer Photography Division and the Technical and Industrial Division with each of these divisions contributing around 40% of Polaroid’s revenues of $ 1.3 billion in 1984.

The company produced two main types of films:

1. The peel apart film which required the user to physically pull the film out of the camera and,

2. The integral film, which came out of the camera automatically.

The integral films were manufactured in the R2 building at the Waltham Massachusetts site. The operations at R2 included production of sheet metal springs,
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Initially, the Quality Control auditors helped the operators in plotting the ranges and the operators’ protocol was to immediately shut down the machines and call for help whenever, the characteristic crossed the specified range. Moreover, eight consecutive mean values lying into the upper or lower zones near the control limits, or consistently upward trends were to be investigated by maintenance as well.

The idea behind the project was to cut down the defect and testing losses. However, the idea backfired when the average defects detection by auditors shot up to 10% from 1% while at the operator level, it halved to about 0.5%.

Another problem was the lack of trust between the auditors and the operators. Standardized maintenance procedures also met with a lot of resistance as they were seen as making the whole maintenance process impersonalized and bureaucratic. The operators believed that they could obtain better results by ‘tweaking’ the machines.

At the same time, operators refused to come out of the “maximize output” mindset and kept adjusting the machines for increased output. Also, the operators were sampling and testing more units than they were recording and adjusted the machines on the basis of the unrecorded defects.

The nature of defects also changed. The variability in the kinds of defects detected increased, as the defects recorded by

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