Cost management

Entrance exam and production efficiency

A few days ago, Kyoto University announced that a candidate cheated the entrance exam using a mobile device.
In Japan, an entrance exam to a collage is generally performed on paper test, at a designated place at once.
The candidate hided his mobile device and submitted the question to an internet Q&A site to seek answers. Sooner, the answers were submitted and he just copied the answer to his paper.
Candidates were supposed to switch the devices off but he did not.

This incident suggests some insights of production efficiency if the exam is considered as a production process, to produce successful candidates (products) at a exam location (a plant).

The current exam system in Japan is a kind of ‘mass production’ with following aspects.
1. Input thousands candidates (raw material) into one place at a designated date.
2. To choose successful candidates through several processes at an exam location (plant)
3. To produce hundreds successful candidates (mass production)
4. Questions and evaluations are objective in a certain standard (standard process, quality standard)

The cheating incident has destroyed the assumption of mass production with new technology.
This cheating was brought to the process like as a defect beyond the assumption to detect by current observations (=check process before input).

The following solutions can be introduced.

1. Reinforce check process before input
I took a USCPA exam a year ago. It strictly prohibits to bring something to the location with some checking processes.
This may not input any defect materials into a production process.
The method may mitigate the cost of subsequent processes, but the check at the first process can be more and costly.

2. Reinforce check process after production
Statistically a defect cannot be zero no matter how many check processes are introduced. Therefore it is assumed that defects can be made in a certain rate to be accepted and to be removed at the final process.
In this incident, check processes at the location are not to be reinforced but the evaluation process may decline answers similar to such Q&A sites.
This method may mitigate the beginning processes, but the final process becomes costly.

3. Scale down the batch size and introduce high-mix low-volume production

The reason of amount of costs for 1. and 2. above is the assumption of mass production.
It is costly to check many candidates if they cheat at once.
If the batch sizes of each processes are scaled down, a cost of each batch can be reduced.
In this incident, the exams can be performed several times much earlier with fewer successful passes at an exam.
This method may increase production times in processes and may decrease efficiency. However this can be more flexible to many potential incidents.

For the assumption of mass production, resource problems can arise such as location, observers and evaluators. The solution 3. may increase exam processes but the resource can be less.
1. or 2. assumes process industry with mass production, while 3. assumes a cellular manufacturing system.