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Lubricant Causes Quality Problems

Lubricant Causes Quality Problems
Cylinder locks coated with a light oil spray started to stick. Did a change in the process affect quality, and if so how?
Mysteries of Science


A manufacturing plant made cylinder locks. One step in the process was to coat the lock parts for with a light oil spray to provide a long-lasting lubrication. The oil was dissolved in solvent so that only a fine film would coat the parts.

This process worked well for years until a new supervisor arrived from Japan. The new boss toured each department offering suggestions, but he was particularly displeased with the parts inventory room

A worker counted and numbered all of the work in progress parts and then sprayed them with a light oil coating. The new boss criticized the worker for using a paper cup instead of metal or glass to mix the oil and solvent. The operator immediately replaced his paper cups with a glass beaker.

But the following week the locks did not work as well as they had. The cylinders did not want to turn and the lubrication did not seem to be working right.

How did this process change affect the quality of the product?

Here's the rest of the story.

There was only one thing to do, go back and mix the oil/solvent exactly as before using a paper cup. The process was back working perfectly.

Wax from the paper cup was dissolving within the oil solvent mixture.

The thin, invisible wax coating added the extra lubricity.


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