What Is Build In Quality?

Lean Principle 3 – Build In Quality

Goal: Highest quality, lowest cost, shortest lead time




The purpose of Building in Quality is to:

  • Focus on customers’ needs and the constant pursuit of improving quality to reduce cost.
  • Protect our brand in the marketplace.
  • Support flow of product by fixing problems at their source.


  • Customer protected
  • Improve cost of non-quality
  • Flow of product


Build in Quality feels counterintuitive to most as it goes against a volume driven mind-set which is the condition most organisations operate in.  Stopping to fix quality issues poses a problem as we just can’t bring ourselves to stop the process.  Of all the principles it is the least adopted as it soon butts up against key metrics, systems, and traditional thinking of management.  It is a principle that requires careful thought about how a ‘stop the line’ mind-set can be sustained with a root and branch re-think of roles and responsibilities.  However, the rewards outweigh the effort in enhancing your brand in the marketplace and reducing the cost of non-quality that companies inevitably carry as a consequence of their current processes.

Build In Quality has the following aspects:

Andon – a visual and audible traffic light system to warn leadership of a pending stop to the line due to defects appearing in the system.  Picture the light system at the check out when at the supermarket and your groceries won’t scan.

Quality Circles -gateways for the product in the process flow to ensure only good quality moves towards the customer.

Error Proofing – eliminating potential errors that can cause defects from the process.

Managed Buffers –  Closely linked to Just In Time, ensuring that limits on building stock or work in progress are in place to prevent potential defects flooding the system.

Struggling to make your company become Lean?

Educate your leadership and begin to see the Lean Operating System and Principles appear across all of your standardised work and procedures.

Speak with our expert Lean Consultants today.

This page was written by Mark Radley in February 2018.
Due for review in 2019.

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