Ajith Kumar’s default image

By: Ajith Kumar

The concept of total quality management (TQM) rose to prominence more than two decades ago. There were many reasons for it, the most important one being the European Union’s move to allow imports only from companies with ISO-standards certification. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) rose rapidly from anonymity to become a household name in the corporate world. All types of business and organizations started seeking certification of their goods and services to keep up their exports. Unill then, "quality" was at best a desirable attribute and only Japanese companies paid any attention to it as a policy. The rush for ISO-standards certification changed all that. Many good changes resulted from it, but many more unwanted tendencies surfaced. Two decades later it may be a useful exercise to review the issue. Did ISO-standards certification bring about any desirable change? Is it necessary to continue with it in its present form? TQM is tottering, and drastic steps by ISO are required if the good effects of the quality movement are to survive.

Alex Eksir’s default image

By: Alex Eksir

We’ve all heard about how calamitously insufficient a quality standard of 99 percent would be:

  • One percent of airplanes crashing on take-off would mean nearly 200 domestic commercial airline crashes each day.
  • One percent of erroneously filled prescriptions would mean about 35 million incorrect medications dispensed in the United States every year.
  • One percent of newborns dropped in obstetrics wards would mean… Well, you get the point.

Familiar stuff, right? So familiar, in fact, that the examples above have pretty much stopped doing the useful work they once did to shock us out of a sense of complacency. I don’t mean to sound cold or callous, but nowadays when I hear statistics like those, my reaction is less “Wow!” and more “Yeah? So?”

Here’s an example that gets my attention, and it’s real. I heard it directly from a corporal in the U.S. Army. He said, “If the system doesn’t work, the mission fails. My buddies die. I die.”

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, but 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’s an interesting lesson: Manage by process instead of departments. The scenario is described by the people who actually lived it.

Quality Digest’s picture

By: Quality Digest


"Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the languages of all the earth…"
—Genesis 11:9

The story of the Tower of Babel occupies but nine verses of the Book of Genesis, but it contains a valuable lesson for today: a multiplicity of languages makes it harder to run a workplace effectively. This is especially true when the quality system relies on controlled documents, as required by ISO 9001 and ISO/TS 16949. Robert M. Bakker cites in his "Why companies fail quality audits" (Manufacturing Engineering) three predominant sources of quality system nonconformances:

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

HR Nicholson Co., “pioneers in the juice industry,” has operated for nearly a century. The company has grown from 45 employees to 75 employees in just the past six years. The family-owned, Baltimore-based manufacturing and distribution company realized that, unlike the first eighty-plus years when products were manufactured and shipped from the same location, the need to set up distribution locations separate from the manufacturing plant created several challenges.According to Su Shaffer, senior executive with the fruit juice manufacturer, “When HR Nicholson started looking at solutions to manage the multiple-location scenario, production planning was critical to meet the growth.” Beyond growth, part of what drove the lean process and the search for technological solutions were the government regulatory demands of the food industry.

Similarly, Green Bay Cheese Co. faced significant challenges due to government regulations and customer-compliance issues. Green Bay Cheese needed an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software package that could:

Douglas C. Fair’s picture

By: Douglas C. Fair

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, deaths, injuries and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $700 billion annually. There are severe costs to the business involved in the recall, in addition to potential costs of civil and criminal penalties.Read news headlines on any given day and thousands of products will have been recalled. Focus on any single item and its cost and dangers become instantly obvious: automobiles, children’s toys, medicines, food products and more. The following example illustrates such a scenario:

Audi North America

Background

Audi North America assumed responsibility for its quality monitoring in 2002. Soon after, failure rate in their 4-cylinder engine exceeded 50 percent. Audi recalled many cars and replaced ignition systems.

Problem

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 distribute products produced by companies in the Far East. They have about 150 employees and are by far the biggest employer 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, but 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 another lesson: Understand your true costs. The scenario is described by the people who actually lived it.

—Guy Hockmeyer, director of sales and marketing

"This year is shaping up to the biggest year ever. The reason is simple: custom molding. That’s when companies ask us manufacture on their behalf. Some people also call it private label work, because the companies for which we mold put their own brand names on the products. We make it, and they sell it as if they had made it themselves. I fought and fought for us to get into this kind of business, but management refused to listen to reason. Now they’re listening, and custom molding is taking off like a rocket.

Bill Kalmar’s picture

By: Bill Kalmar

In a recent Volkswagen Jetta commercial, a pleasant conversation between two friends is abruptly interrupted by a horrific accident. Fortunately there are no injuries thanks to the air-bag system in the Jetta. Similar experiences are provided by Allstate Insurance warning us to buy a policy to protect our automobile investment. And certain hospitals have warned us that, by not using the services of their doctors, we could place our lives in jeopardy. I can hardly wait for the bird flu pandemic to strike so I can find out which new product will prevent me from growing webbed feet. We recently drove across the heartland of America to visit four grandchildren in St. Louis, Missouri. The changing scenery with the early blossoming of tree buds and tulips gave us a short respite from Michigan’s frigid winter, and we got to listen to a myriad radio stations. Coming from the Rust Belt, I enjoyed hearing the hog belly reports and the noon price of soybean futures, instead of the latest unemployment percentages.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

At the Shorewood Packaging Midland Avenue facility in Toronto, real-time information helps yield world-class lean manufacturing results. Shorewood Packaging is part of International Paper, which has operations in more than 40 countries and sells its products in more than 120 nations. Shorewood Packaging has three plants in Ontario, Canada, and is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of premium packaging. The company could identify machines that were ahead or behind in productivity through key performance measurements, but these numbers weren’t relevant to machine operators. Management needed to find a way to provide relevant information to operators and give them the ability to set efficiency goals on a per-job basis.

A. P. Porter’s default image

By: A. P. Porter

The quality of my telephone experience has deteriorated over the years. As a teenager, I spent hours on the telephone when being on the phone meant being tethered to a wall. High-tech was a 25-foot cord. If I called a friend, he’d only answer if he were at home. If someone was on the telephone when I called, I’d hear the same busy signal we hear now.Telephone services have come a long way. I used to have an answering machine that functioned between the telephone and the wall jack. When I’d come in after work or play, I would know from across the room and in the dark if I had messages because a light on the box would flash. The machine would show me how many messages I had. I could hear my messages by pushing a button.

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