Miriam Boudreaux’s picture

By: Miriam Boudreaux

Well, a simple answer is no, you don’t need a consultant to achieve ISO 9001 certification. In fact, many companies achieve ISO 9001 on their own, by appointing key employees to the task. The implications, however, of trying to implement a system on your own can be a set back to your business if resources are stretched too thin and can quickly outweigh any money saved by not hiring a consultant.

Let’s say you are the production manager of a cable company. You are an expert on cables and so are your people. One day you are asked to look for a better provider for health and insurance benefits for your employees because the current provider is not working well. What would you do? Your employees are your assets and their well being affects you indirectly, but are you the right person for this task? It may take an enormous amount of time to research and investigate what is available out there and what kind of questions to ask to get a better provider for health and insurance benefits. The time and cost factors are best optimized in assigning this task to an expert on employee benefits matters.

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By: NASA Kennedy Tech Transfer News

What does an innovator do when existing methods of calibrating a critical environment pressure sensor are cumbersome and produce shoddy results? Richard Deyoe and Stephen Stout, ASRC Aerospace meteorologists based at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, decided to design and build their own calibration unit. Now, Setra Systems—the company whose pressure sensor Deyoe and Stout were trying to calibrate—is using their invention to improve its own product line.

In the early 1990s, Deyoe and Stout wanted an accurate, cost-effective technique to perform onsite qualification testing of Setra Systems’ Model C264, a new, high-accuracy, low-differential pressure transducer. The basic problem was that new pressure transducer technology and accuracy had exceeded the accuracy of commercially available calibration equipment. For the qualification testing, a portable, lower-cost calibrator was needed that could control the differential pressure to a high degree of resolution without having to be in an environmentally controlled room, and have the capability to transfer the accuracy of the standards laboratory into the qualification testing.

R. Eric Reidenbach Ph.D.’s picture

By: R. Eric Reidenbach Ph.D.

Pick up any article or book, attend any conference on Six Sigma, or talk with any Black Belt or Master Black Belt and you will hear the Six Sigma gospel about the importance of the voice of the customer. For example, in their book Six Sigma: The Breakthrough Management Strategy Revolutionizing the World's Top Corporations (Currency Random House, 2000) authors Mikel Harry and Richard Schroeder argue, "The heart of Six Sigma lies in improving products and services what will benefit the customer. Companies need to understand how their customers measure quality and to create products and services that meet their expectations." (p. 170)

Clearly the authors are referring to the end user or the buyer of the product or service.

Julia M. Rahn Ph.D.’s picture

By: Julia M. Rahn Ph.D.


debate exists as to whether making an error is the same as making a mistake. In baseball, it's an error if a fielder misplays a ball in a way that allows a batter or base runner to reach one or more additional bases, when such an advance should have been prevented given ordinary effort by the fielder. The fielder made an error. He misjudged the speed, direction, or height of the ball coming at him.

While errors are tabulated at every game, some legendary mistakes show a profound difference between errors and mistakes. Pete Rose will never be in the Baseball Hall of Fame even though he was considered one of the best players in baseball history. Rose was found to have bet on baseball while he managed the Cincinnati Reds. This mistake led to him being banned from professional baseball and his legacy as a truly great player forever tarnished.

Alex Lucas’s picture

By: Alex Lucas

For decades, traditional touch probes on coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) have been the gold standard by which parts have been inspected and verified. However, this time-consuming process becomes an even bigger drain on a quality department’s valuable resources as the parts it is charged with inspecting contain increasingly complex free-form surfaces that take an exponentially longer time to thoroughly inspect.

Tracy Willis’s picture

By: Tracy Willis

Do you hear Six Sigma professionals express frustration that the organization does not support their efforts? 

Are there department heads in your life who have complained that their Six Sigma professionals are not delivering the needed results? And that each project is too time-consuming?

Have you heard stories about CFOs who insist that the sizable investment in Six Sigma training and program initiation has not—and never will—pay off? After all, it costs around $20,000 just to train one Black Belt.

If you can answer “yes” to one or more of the above questions, you are not alone. Many Six Sigma professionals will tell you that sweeping program improvements are needed for Six Sigma’s validity to be verified.

Many Six Sigma professionals feel frustrated that managers are focused only on short-term results to please shareholders. They feel that if managers would just allow more time, the desired results would be delivered. In reality, managers will not change their position because the pressures they face from executives, shareholders, and analysts will not go away. Six Sigma professionals must give management what they are looking for by producing results more quickly and effectively.

Aaron Sabino’s picture

By: Aaron Sabino

The aerospace sector has the most stringent quality standards in the world. The big name manufacturers and their suppliers are constantly adapting new technologies to speed up inspection while maintaining tolerances that are tighter than most other businesses. With laser trackers becoming smaller in size, not to mention price, these flexible tools are finding their way into more and more aerospace-related applications.

Laser trackers have been used in the construction of aircraft for more than 20 years, and with good reason. The ease of use, long range, and high accuracy make laser trackers a great fit for traditional aerospace applications such as jig and fixture building, part inspection, and joining large parts for final assembly. Indeed, as laser trackers have become more affordable, many suppliers and small machine shops have turned to this technology. This has allowed smaller shops to bring in more work by expanding into tighter tolerance machining. However, many facilities are also expanding their laser tracker usage into less traditional arenas.

Georgia Institute of Technology’s picture

By: Georgia Institute of Technology

In 2008, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta saw more than 170,000 patients across all three of its three emergency departments. That kind of volume demands an effective and efficient process, and staff spent the past three years developing a master facility plan to do just that. However, moving into a larger space didn't yield the expected results.

“We increased the size of our departments, thinking capacity would resolve turnaround time issues,” says Marianne Hatfield, director of Children’s emergency services. “But what we found was we didn’t really get any better once we moved into the bigger space; we got slower. We really had not examined whether or not our process needed to change.”


A team of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta's physicians, nurses, technicians, and administrators—including Lauren Timmons, Keri Wintter, Alyson Couch, and Dr. Michael Shaffner (left to right)—analyzed and streamlined flow processes from the time a patient arrives in the emergency department until they are discharged.

Quality Transformation With David Schwinn’s picture

By: Quality Transformation With David Schwinn

When I started at General Motors (GM) in the 1960s, we were the biggest and best company in the United States and most of the world. As a matter of fact, I believe that only a couple of state industries in Russia surpassed the number of people that GM employed. Many of us, observing the poor quality of work done in the factories as we first entered them, found it hard to believe that GM could be so good. One of my friends and colleagues, Mark Horvath, captured the situation insightfully: "We [GM] can depend on the stupidity of our competition."

As time went on and we became more a part of the GM culture, we began to think of Mark’s observation in a different way. We began to unconsciously believe that the reason we were so large, powerful, and successful was that we really were smart. As a matter of fact, in those days, one of the criteria we used for making decisions was "Will this enhance our market position so much that the antitrust guys will try to break us up?" We thought we had to be careful not to be too good. So what happened to this most omnipotent company?

Elizabeth A. Thomson’s default image

By: Elizabeth A. Thomson

Imagine a soldier's uniform made of a special fabric that allows him to look in all directions and identify threats that are to his side or even behind him. In work that could turn such science fiction into reality, MIT researchers have developed light-detecting fibers that, when woven into a web, act as a flexible camera. Fabric composed of these fibers could be joined to a computer that could provide information on a small display screen attached to a visor, providing the soldier greater awareness of his surroundings.


A Micrograph showing the cross-section of a new optoelectronic fiber. Courtesy / Fink Lab, MIT

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