Alex Lucas’s picture

By: Alex Lucas

Top-100 automotive supplier, Kautex, relies on Metris XC50-LS Cross Scanner on LK CMM to verify the production quality of composite fuel tanks. Kautex engineers set up and execute automatic measurement routines that speed up the serial inspection process for fuel tank by 30 percent. Incorporating three lasers in a cross pattern, the scanners capture the finest details of freeform surfaces and critical geometric features in one go. The insight gained by automatically digitizing fuel tanks and generating graphic Focus reports enables Kautex to tackle problems that were hard to solve in the past.

Cathy Sunshine’s picture

By: Cathy Sunshine

When first hearing the word “clues,” your mind might start envisioning great fictional detectives such as Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marple, but in the business world it is essential for every leader to be prepared to recognize and address the dangerous signs that lead to lowered productivity and overall dysfunction. Fortunately, in contrast to many best-selling detective novels, the clues needed to solve this case are almost always comprised of the same list of usual suspects. 

A careful examination requires the business leader to comb over details with the thoroughness of a magnifying glass to see if the first signs of trouble have begun to sneaking up on the company. These symptoms may seem harmless at first, but have the potential to multiply and wreak havoc once your guard is down.

An early warning sign is deferral of decision making. The realization that decisions aren’t being made or, if made, they must be thought and rethought before action can be taken. The lack of forward movement can be invisible at first, but eventually becomes a powerful intruder that can cripple a company. 

James O. Pearson’s picture

By: James O. Pearson

We have all had to plan a trip to the airport. Sometimes it goes well and sometimes not so well. One of the problems we have is dealing with the variation in the trip time to the airport. Since I travel to the airport a lot and like analyzing data, I keep track of my travel time to the airport. And living in Boston has always been an adventure when going to the airport.

Our question today (or our problem statement) is simple: “How much time should I allow for my trip to the airport so I don’t miss my plane?”

Here in figure 1 is a run chart (data over a time period) that shows my trips to the airport over time. The numbers on the left show my total trip time in minutes—from leaving the house until completing the security check in the airport. Note that I have made 58 trips to the airport and that my average time to get there is 93 minutes. 

Figure 1: Trip Times to Airport (minutes on left, number of trips at bottom)

David C. Crosby’s picture

By: David C. Crosby


ero defects (ZD) is probably the simplest, most effective quality management concept ever conceived. Zero defects always works and it can’t fail—only the leader can fail. Once a leader accepts ZD as his or her personal performance standard, error will no longer be tolerated and defects will go away; defects will be prevented. When the leader weakens, ZD can falter. Even then, it doesn’t really fail. Like the old Army ballad “Old Soldiers Never Die,” it just fades away.

Innovating Service With Chip Bell’s picture

By: Innovating Service With Chip Bell

Ray Bell was a math teacher, turned credit manager of a farm equipment company in my rural southern Georgia hometown. He was also my dad. I knew he kept a very detailed ledger book that had information on every customer he gave a loan. He could tell you how often a farmer came into the tractor company, how often he was late on a payment, the ratio of his loan to cultivatable acreage, et. cetera, ad nauseam!

When my dad passed away, lots of farmers told me at his funeral what a wonderful credit manager he was. “Oh, he was strict, mind you,” they would tell me. “If he gave you a loan on a new tractor or planter, he expected you to repay every cent of it. But he really knew us.”

I later found an old copy of one of his ledger books after the equipment company was sold when the owner died. All his figures were meticulously maintained. In the far right margin were notes like, “oldest boy has had the flu,” or “boll weevils worse this year.” There was even a small newspaper article clipped to one of the pages about one customer’s son’s military achievements. I am confident the figures were all accurate. However, the facts depicted in the books were enlightening.

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By: Paul Gay

Wireless communications have well and truly arrived in the industrial arena and considerable effort is now being put into integration and the writing of standards. In this article, the author considers the many benefits and a few drawbacks of this cost effective technology.

Wireless communication in the industrial environment has become a reality. The technology now offers practical solutions to industrial automation connectivity with the key benefits of cost-saving installation, minimal operating costs, and perhaps most important to the end user, reliability.

Wireless communications are cheaper to install than traditional hard-wired systems because, quite simply, there are no cables. When there’s no cable then there are no conduit, wiring racks, or digging of underground cable runs—all costly items, especially when the installation is within an existing plant or factory.

Wireless networks require proper installation to ensure there is no loss in production.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

Innovative vehicle-mounted, hand-held, and wearable mobile computers must be dependable, tough, and reliable. Wireless computers extend corporate networks to mobile workers in demanding conditions and only rugged mobile computers drive down costs and improve customer satisfaction. These are quality-centric concepts.

Baldwin Richardson Foods, headquartered in Frankfort, Illinois, with manufacturing facility in Macedon, New York, produces bakery fillings, syrups, sauces, toppings, beverage mixes, condiments packets, and other food products. “Our operations were all manual. We wanted to automate and had looked into different bar coding systems over the years, but nothing was the right fit,” says Craig Czajka, the IT manager at Baldwin Richardson Foods. “Our [enterprise resource planning] ERP system is everything to us—it runs the whole business. We couldn’t take a chance with any systems or vendors that hadn’t proven they could integrate with it.”

Sean M. Dozier’s default image

By: Sean M. Dozier

Do you really need to read another story about how project management and statistics helped some organization save money and meet their goals? Why are you even looking for case studies? Did your boss ask you to do some research to see if “this stuff” works? Well, let’s see... Yes! It works. Now quit wasting your time and start doing real work.

Benchmarking isn’t going to save you one penny, in fact it’s going to waste your money faster than flushing it down the toilet or giving your teenager a credit card and sending them to Cancun for spring break. Benchmarking is something we are all familiar with; it’s simply looking around to see how everyone else is doing and seeing how you compare to the rest. Why do that? Tell me this. How often do you see an Olympic swimmer looking around to see how well they’re doing? If you stop to look around it means you’re not winning the race. Do you want to look around or win the race? Yes, you are in a race.

Miriam Boudreaux’s picture

By: Miriam Boudreaux

The ISO 9001 standard’s requirements with regard to suppliers are very short and concise but carry a lot of punch. These requirements can be very deceiving and in fact are often misinterpreted and carried out poorly or partially. By implementing the clause correctly, an organization will get the full extent of the benefits sought out by the standard. I am going to explain in this article the intent of the standard regarding suppliers and the best way to accomplish supplier management.

What the standard requires

ISO 9001 standard requires that a supplier be evaluated, selected, and reevaluated. Specific requirements related to the supplier’s evaluation are found in two places:

Makino’s picture

By: Makino

Many U.S. manufacturers have struggled to grow in the face of global competition and economic uncertainty. These factors have challenged the industry, put pressure on prices, and forced many shops out of business.

MacKay Manufacturing of Spokane, Washington, had a history of steady growth from its inception in the 1950s as a high-mix, low-volume job shop. As competition began to rise and the slowdown of 2001 pummeled many in manufacturing, the shop witnessed decreasing profits and saw no signs of a quick bounce back.

“The real wake-up call was when we weren’t awarded a large contract from a customer,” says Mike MacKay, who took over as president of the company in 1984. “They did a review and said they could only award the contract to a lean shop. We thought we were lean, as far as we understood the term. It was devastating.”

MacKay, determined to become lean, knew the company needed to change three aspects: manpower, machines, and methods. But he also thought that most of the manufacturers that benefited from lean methods were high-volume production shops, not job shops with many part numbers and small batch runs.

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