Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

There is no shortage of standards. There are standards that define how something should be made vs. those related to processes, such as ISO 9001. According to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), standards that provide requirements or give guidance on good management practice are among the best known of ISO’s offerings. Having achieved truly global status and thoroughly integrated with the world economy, ISO 9001:2000 (the transition to ISO 9001:2008 is now taking place) establishes requirements for quality management systems (QMS). It’s the most implemented standard for providing assurance about an organization’s ability to satisfy quality requirements and enhance customer satisfaction in supplier-customer relationships.

At the most basic level, standards are simply the application of tried-and-tested best practices. Standards focus on the products or services delivered, the business processes followed, and the way a business is managed as a whole.

Michelle LaBrosse’s picture

By: Michelle LaBrosse

When the summer sun beats down, there’s always someone in the family who reminds you to put on your sunscreen. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to easily avoid getting burned at work? There is. It’s called project management.

Grab a bottle of water, put on your baseball cap, and think about project management as SPF 45 for business.

Following are seven ways that project management can help you avoid getting burned at work:

1.  Set expectations with a project agreement. Don’t skip the project agreement because you're pressed for time, or you think the project is too inconsequential. It’s often the small projects that can unexpectedly erupt and catch us off guard because we were thinking, “This is going to be an easy one.” Project agreements help to eliminate unnecessary conflict as objectives, expectations, timelines, and roles and responsibilities get clearly defined. If some team members are working virtually, it’s important to update the project agreement regularly, and post it to the collaborative work environment or e-mail it to the team.

Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest’s picture

By: Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest

For more than 20 years, Toyota’s methods, known as “lean,” have made headlines. And that’s how long engineer, researcher, and author Mike Rother has been involved with the subject. Like many others, Rother began with Toyota’s production tools. And like many others, he found that these are difficult to put into practice at other companies. So he studied Toyota’s management approach, and his new book, Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness, and Superior Results (McGraw-Hill, 2010) describes what he found. In the book, Toyota actually plays a secondary role because the ways of thinking and acting that Rother discovered and describes are universally applicable. They do, however, present managers with some new tasks.

For more information on Toyota Kata, visit Rother’s home page.

Rother spoke with Quality Digest Daily about his findings and the changing responsibilities of managers.

Criterion NDT’s picture

By: Criterion NDT

(Criterion NDT: Auburn, WA) -- Doctors, hospitals, and individuals depend on the highest quality hypodermic needles to administer medicines and draw fluids. Unfortunately, 100-percent visual and/or water-leak test inspection of the needle tubing or finished product for microscopic cracks or defects is nearly impossible. A hypodermic needle manufacturer has integrated automated eddy-current testing solutions from Criterion NDT in its production lines to test 100 percent of its material for cracks and defects.


Medical-grade hypodermic needles are available in numerous diameters and wall thicknesses. A hypodermic needle manufacturer wanted to detect through-wall cracks down to 0.100 in. (2.5 mm) long × 0.004 in. (0.1 mm) wide in needles down to 0.011 in. (0.28 mm) in diameter.

The manufacturer’s process commences with forming and welding medical-grade stainless steel. The tubing is drawn through forming dies, annealed, and then straightened prior to cutting.

Sal Lucido’s picture

By: Sal Lucido

The compliance department’s primary function is to ensure that the company complies with all applicable regulations, rules, and laws. Regardless of the industry—life science, energy and utilities, or financial services—this is a universal mandate.

As someone who serves customers across many heavily regulated industries, I think I’ve got a unique perspective, and I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned in the hopes that it will help others in some small way.

One particularly useful tool I see used across all industries is what I call the “Circle of Compliance.” Before I explain this concept, let’s take a deeper look at the job of the compliance department.

National Association for Healthcare Quality’s picture

By: National Association for Healthcare Quality

The Toyota Production System and U.S. health care improvement share a long history. What lessons can health care leaders learn from Toyota’s recent production troubles? A few experts recently discussed this on WIHI, an audio program sponsored by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). Here are some highlights from the May 6 broadcast.

“Toyota has set the direction for all of us who are on the lean journey,” observes John Toussaint, M.D., founder and president of ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value, in Appleton, Wisconsin. “We all try to watch and emulate them. There’s a lot to be learned from this latest snafu.” Toussaint adds that Toyota has promised a return to basics after having lost sight of two of its fundamental principles—continuous improvement and respect for the customer. “It just proves that the lean journey is an [ongoing] challenge to implement for all of us, even Toyota.”

Jon Padfield’s picture

By: Jon Padfield

On the evening of April 14, I boarded a plane to London, where I was scheduled to teach a series of continuous improvement classes. The following morning, as my flight neared the United Kingdom, the pilot announced that our flight was being diverted to Brussels due to a cloud of volcanic ash blowing in from Iceland. Thus began my unplanned, four-day stay in Belgium.

Don’t get me wrong; I greatly prefer landing safely anywhere to crashing at my intended destination. However, my four-day experience in overcrowded Belgian airports, hotels, and train stations made me start thinking about the trade off between the efficiency benefits of being lean vs. the risk of not having enough reserve capacity to handle unplanned events. Granted, this was an extreme example. I really wouldn’t expect the European rail system to have the capacity to handle its normal load plus that of the entire air transportation system that was shut down for nearly a week. However, this experience highlighted the fact that having some reserve capacity comes in handy during a disruption of the status quo.

Michele DeMeo’s picture

By: Michele DeMeo

A surgical technician prepares her back table for the next laparoscopic surgery. Instruments are removed from their containers and packages, and placed neatly on the back table. Chemical indicators show that sets and instruments are sterilized; the patient is prepped. The surgeon begins the procedure. It progresses smoothly until a particular dissector is requested. The surgeon takes hold of the grasper to place it in the port, and then notices blood dripping from it into the port. The blood must have come from the last patient, because the surgeon hasn’t used this instrument yet. Clearly, it was not disassembled or sterilized.

Lesson: Just because the sterilizer was capable of sterilizing doesn’t mean it did so. Sometimes technicians or personnel don’t disassemble graspers because they don’t know that they are made to come apart or how to disassemble them. Sometimes techs are requested to keep them together for any number of reasons. 

Stewart Anderson’s picture

By: Stewart Anderson

I am often struck by a remark of W. Edwards Deming that the aim of a system must include plans for the future. As Deming wrote in The New Economics (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1994), “A system must have an aim. Without an aim, there is no system. The aim of the system must be clear to everyone in the system. The aim must include plans for the future. The aim is a value judgment.” This remark, it seems to me, goes right to the heart of needing to think about continuous improvement strategically, rather than tactically as a program or initiative to be undertaken.

Many firms undertake improvement initiatives to improve quality or, in the case of lean manufacturing, to increase added value by reducing and eliminating the amount of nonvalue adding activity. The rationale for many of these initiatives is the desire to reduce costs, thereby improving a firm’s profitability. However, high quality and low costs are no guarantee of profits.

Raissa Carey’s picture

By: Raissa Carey

It took Gutzon Borglum 14 years to complete the carving of Mount Rushmore, one of the world’s most iconic monuments. Sixty-nine years later, thanks to ground-breaking 3-D laser scanning technology, the granite sculpture of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln was digitally recreated within two weeks, despite difficult weather conditions—snow, fog, and thunderstorms.

From May 11–26, a team of heritage conservators and digital design experts spent hours on the Black Hills of South Dakota digitally recording the international landmark, including the Sculptor’s Studio, the Hall of Records, and the Shrine of Democracy sculpture. The mission is part of the Scottish 10, an ambitious five-year project that will use 3-D scanning to recreate five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Scotland and five international heritage sites, with Mount Rushmore as the first international site. World Heritage Sites are places designated by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as sites of special global cultural or physical significance.

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