August 11, 2023 | Mark Paradies

Friday Joke: Empty Boxes

A TapRooT® User send this to us. Don’t know if it is real or not, but it is funny…

A major corporation that made toothpaste had a problem. They sometimes shipped empty toothpaste boxes without the tube inside. This challenged their perceived quality with the buyers and distributors. Understanding how important the relationship with them was, the CEO of the company assembled his top people. They decided to hire an external engineering company to solve their empty boxes problem. The project followed the usual process: budget and project sponsor allocated, RFP, and third-parties selected. Six months (and $8 million) later they had a fantastic solution – on time, on budget, and high quality. Everyone in the project was pleased.

They solved the problem by using a high-tech precision scale that would sound a bell, flash lights, and shut down the line whenever a toothpaste box weighed less than it should. When the line stopped, someone would walk over, remove the defective box, and press another button to re-start the line. As a result of the new package monitoring process, no empty boxes were being shipped out of the factory.

With no more customer complaints, the CEO felt the $8 million was well spent.

He then reviewed the line statistics report and discovered the number of empty boxes picked up by the scale in the first week was consistent with projections. However, in the next three weeks, there were zero empty boxes! The estimated rate should have been at least a dozen boxes a day. He had the engineers check the equipment, they verified the report as accurate.

Puzzled, the CEO visited the factory, viewed the part of the line where the precision scale was installed, and observed just ahead of the new $8 million dollar solution sat a $20 desk fan blowing the empty boxes off the belt and into a bin. He asked the line supervisor what that was about.

“Oh, that,” the supervisor replied, “Bert, the kid from maintenance, put it there because he was tired of walking over, removing the box and re-starting the line every time the bell rang.”

• • •

Moral of the story: Now they have two Safeguards!

Root Cause Analysis
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2 Replies to “Friday Joke: Empty Boxes”

  • Rod says:

    Love it, I am definitely not getting enough for my investigations, as long as they don’t realise that it would be a lot cheaper to just ask their maintenance department to identify a control 😉

  • Allison says:

    Oh that is just priceless! I love it!
    Always get in put and suggestions from your front line workers!
    Thanks for sharing that.

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