Rick Ringlespaugh’s default image

By: Rick Ringlespaugh

A tier-two automotive supplier faces the challenge of interacting with customers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) on many different programs. For each of more than 100 programs the company is involved in, it must submit a detailed quality plan and then be prepared to change the plan as customers’ and OEMs’ designs and requirements change. In addition, the supplier must meet a complicated series of milestones for each project when submitting documentation and products. In the past, the company’s quality team spent an enormous amount of time complying with these requirements.

The company has been able to substantially reduce the time required to prepare documents, manage the flow of paper, and manage each program by implementing a service-based software utility and application software that automate most of the routine aspects of this process. The company uses software designed specially to expedite the creation of production part approval process (PPAP) documents by automatically synchronizing the duplicated sections of different documents, formatting documents in the required style, and automating the approval and revision tracking process. A service-based utility automates the process of submitting PPAPs, communicating changes, and managing tasks and scheduling with customers.

Nicholas Muthuri’s default image

By: Nicholas Muthuri

Lean was initially started in manufacturing and production departments, and various efforts are being made to apply its principles in service industries. In a highly industrialized world spurred by high technological changes, businesses are forced to change their strategies to a more lean way of doing things to survive in the market. In the 1980s products were produced in batches and bulk, and overproduction or lack of market for the products became the biggest problem. In the book The Toyota Way (McGraw-Hill, 2006) Jeffrey Liker points out that Toyota considers overproduction to be the worst of the seven types of waste because it leads to other types of waste: inventory, movement, handling, hidden defects, etc.

Mike Micklewright’s picture

By: Mike Micklewright

In the past several months, registrar auditors strongly recommended to three former or current clients that they develop and install turtle diagrams for each of their processes. Two auditors from one registrar actually taught a former client how to develop a turtle diagram during a surveillance audit.

In the stand-up quality comedy routine that I perform for ASQ’s section meetings, conferences and corporate events, I reveal my sarcastic list of “seven basic habits of highly effective registrar auditors.” Habit no.2 is, “Inform the auditee that you aren’t allowed to give advice, and then give advice.” I then reveal a double-billed cap, and say that, in the spirit of ISO 9001 clause 7.5.3, “Identification and traceability,” registrar auditors should be required to identify their service at the time of provision.

So, when auditors are auditing, they should show the “auditor” side of the cap. As soon as they start giving advice, they should flip the cap around and show the word “consultant.” Registrar auditors must not give advice, because by doing so, they lose their objectivity.

Theysan Kasirajan’s default image

By: Theysan Kasirajan

Editor’s note: We’re intrigued by this article, in which the author posits the idea of "Theozen," the author’s term for a God-based approach to quality.

Most of us have some sort of spiritual belief, whether it’s part of an organized religion such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and so forth, or whether it’s home grown, based on our own experience of God. If we function within some sort of spiritual context, there’s no way to leave that behind, that is, to have a "work" persona and a "spiritual" persona. We are who we are and everything that encompasses. So the question often arises, how does our perception of God (or pick a phrase of your choice) influence our worklife, or, as this article explains, the quality of our work.

The author is writing from his own religious perspective, and this is what he brings to his workplace. What perspective, spiritual or otherwise, do you bring to your workplace? How does it affect the quality of what you do?

Larry P. English’s default image

By: Larry P. English

Déja vu
After the 2006 primary elections in the United States, a local newspaper article headline read, “Computer ballots in stage of ‘trial and error.’” Although elections are critical in a democratic society, electronic voting that isn’t transparent has been introduced with a trial-and-error approach instead of a proven process improvement approach.

After the 2000 U.S. presidential election, the “Help America Vote Act” (HAVA) election reform was intended to improve the election processes. Its requirements to replace older voting technologies with information-age electronic voting machines have introduced negative side effects and increased known problems.

Craig Cochran’s picture

By: Craig Cochran

Last year I had the good fortune of doing some consulting with B&C Specialty Products in Hopeulikit, Georgia. B&C does light manufacturing, primarily plastic molding and assembly, and they also distribute imported products produced by companies in the Far East. They have about 150 employees and are the biggest employer by far in Hopeulikit. B&C was a perfect place to learn about managing and quality. Every day presented a new lesson. Usually the lessons were hard-learned, and those are the ones that really stick with you. B&C was gracious enough to allow me to interview their personnel about things that came up during my time there. Here is one of those lessons: Don’t let personnel problems fester. The scenario is described by the people who actually lived it.

Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest’s picture

By: Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest

Following last month’s excellent article "Management and the Bhagavad-Gita" by M. P. Bhattathiri, Quality Digest got several requests for an article discussing how the Christian bible might also be used in an organizational context. In the following, Quality Digest editor in chief, Dirk Dusharme, applies the writings of the apostle Paul to a very common organizational issue.

It’s not difficult, or mysterious really, to apply any great writing to an organization. In most cases, all it takes is a little understanding of the context in which the writer was living and looking for the similarities in today’s world. Last month, M. P. Bhattathiri gave a description of how some of the wisdom of the Bhagavad-Gitacould be applied in a management context.

In this article, I’ll take a broad look at how all employees can gain from the apostle Paul’s no-nonsense approach to organizational issues. As my source, I’ll use one of Paul’s most famous passages from the New Testament book of 1 Corinthians.

Bill Kalmar’s picture

By: Bill Kalmar

As the cool, crisp air of autumn begins to make its annual appearance here in the Midwest, and the trees on country roads are aflame with color, it’s time to make some wardrobe decisions. Should I select the fur-lined parka over the Gore-Tex windbreaker? Are the Eddie Bauer boots warmer than the L.L. Bean mukluks? And which hat provides the best cover for my receding hairline? Although the goal is to keep warm, how will I look to my friends?Similar questions and choices surface when organizations begin their journey to quality and performance excellence. Which process will insulate us from error? Which process will reduce red tape? Which process will have a good effect on the bottom line? Which process will help us exceed the expectations of our customers?

Depending on the industry and organizational intent, quality practitioners must choose from myriad processes such as, AS9100, BS7799, EN46000, EN9100, FS9100, ISO 14000, ISO 9001, ISO/TS16949, JIS Q 9100, Baldrige criteria, Six Sigma, the joint commission on accreditation of health care organizations (JCAHO), Q9000, QS-9000, kaizen, lean manufacturing, Q9858A, MIL STD 45662A, the U.S.A. Quality Cup, MIL STD 105E, TL9000, Juran’s, Deming’s, and the various state quality awards.

Brian Copeland’s default image

By: Brian Copeland

Every day, I hear from frustrated quality assurance (QA) managers who’ve been informed by project management that their six-week testing schedule has been reduced to two weeks or less. It usually involves some sob story about how the development team is a month late because of the customer’s last-minute changes (Isn’t it always someone else’s fault?). The testing team is expected to suck up the lost time and get their testing done in a fraction of the originally scheduled time.I typically ask them, “What have you done to prevent this from happening?” The manager usually explodes from sheer pressure and dumps a laundry list of reasons for the project’s poor condition—management committed to a date before the project even kicked off. There are problems with the requirements—either they’re nonexistent, vague, incomplete, or not well documented. There are problems with the involvement of the quality resources, such as being left out of key meetings. There are problems with the development team producing unit-tested code.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

In a repetitive manufacturing environment, Six Sigma’s quantification is much easier than in the engineer-to-order (ETO) manufacturing environment, where no two products are identical.

Six Sigma is a program that affects the entire company. What have been missing for ETO manufacturers are the central management tools to ensure the entire Six Sigma implementation is applied systematically. While Six Sigma affects external and internal users, centralized communication is critical to the program’s success, particularly when there's a strong need for interaction between engineering and manufacturing.

According to Stephen Carson, executive vice president for Visibility Corp., “Many project-based manufacturers provide contract engineering and manufacturing services related to the production of components and assemblies with multiple domestic and off-shore locations. These companies must have a consistent track record of growth by concentrating and effectively competing on quality, timeliness and price. They require a state-of-the-art process and quality control system that provide both the flexibility and consistency to deliver the highest quality manufacturing services and cost effective product delivery.”

Following are some key quality ETO challenges:

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