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By John Navarro


Today’s competitive environment requires many businesses to register their quality management systems (QMS) to ISO 9001. Although debate on the overall effectiveness of registration continues, each year an increasing number of organizations seek it. So what’s significant about acquiring ISO 9001 registration? What makes the following case study about a nonprofit association achieving ISO 9001 registration particularly compelling?

What’s compelling is the “it can be done” spirit and the collective commitment of the management team and each employee to collaborate throughout the registration process. That was the path followed by this nonprofit, the Life Options, Vocational and Resource Center (LOVARC), which demonstrated a positive outlook, a truly compassionate effort, and a deep involvement in each stage of compliance to the standard. In fact, LOVARC embraces this work ethic every day supporting enlisted personnel at Vandenberg Air Force Base, located near Santa Barbara, in Lompoc, California. LOVARC manages a full food-service operation for the 30th Space Wing headquartered at Vandenberg, doing everything from receiving raw goods to preparing food and cleaning up.

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By Matthew Kopecky



10 Steps to Creating a Culture of Quality


• Guarantee that processes are controlled across the entire supply chain.

• Create a risk-based system for gauging and ranking suppliers.

• Realize that quality problems always exist.

• Implement proper escalation procedures.

• Determine the root causes of issues in the supply chain.

• Apply effectiveness checks in a closed-loop system.

• Ensure companywide corrective and preventive action policies.

• Institute a proper process for customer complaint and inquiry management.

• Identify customer needs and resolve issues for continuous improvement.

• Eliminate the disconnect between C-level management and quality controllers.


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By Jay LeCoque

Quality by Design and RMM: Helping Manufacturers Balance Quality and Speed to Market

Today’s drug development companies face a difficult challenge: balancing the need for product quality and safety while speeding time to market. Championed by the FDA, EMEA, and other global regulatory agencies, quality by design (QbD) represents a systematic approach to building quality into product and process design and development right from the start. QbD and rapid-detection RMM go hand-in-hand, because both share the same goals--to ensure a high-quality manufacturing process that is lean, efficient, and reliable.

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By William Dorner

Click here to download the Excel worksheet used in this article.

Many people use Microsoft Excel on a daily basis. Yet few people realize the extent of Excel's analytical capabilities. Fewer still put these capabilities to work for process improvement, product improvement and profit.Most Excel users are aware of the common formulas and charts. But with some creativity, users can produce tools like control charts, Pareto charts and box-and-whisker plots (see "Using Excel for Data Analysis," Quality Digest, October 1997). And with a little guidance, users can employ more advanced statistical methods with Excel. This article presents a how-to approach for one such advanced technique-Weibull analysis.

You haven't turned the page yet? Those of you who remain probably fall under one of two categories: those familiar with reliability data analysis, and Excel enthusiasts who are curious to learn one more way to exploit this versatile software. I predict readers in both groups will be glad they stuck around.

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By Roderick A. Munro, Ph.D

As more companies embrace Six Sigma, the need to hire and train employees in the methodology grows. One issue facing beleaguered managers and human resource departments is how to determine whether an applicant truly possesses the Six Sigma skills required by the company. If he or she has a certificate, does it have any value? If not, how does your organization verify employees' Six Sigma skills? Once you get beyond the marketing hype of Six Sigma, what will really help your organization eliminate or even prevent problems?

These questions and many more based on your particular needs should be addressed as you review what you and your organization will accept as qualified certification.

This article presents commentary on important items that apply to the value (or lack thereof) of Six Sigma certification in your organization.

Understand your needs

Whether you decide to grow your own Six Sigma practitioners or hire from the outside, management must understand the role that it wants Six Sigma to play in the organization. Just stating in a job posting that a person must be Six Sigma-certified is meaningless unless the organization knows what it really wants.

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By D. Z. Sokol and Robert Morris

The current economic downturn may have reduced a company’s business, but it has not reduced the requirements associated with doing business. This is particularly true for the numerous activities associated with technical data interpretation and application. For example, although the quantity of parts to be produced may be significantly less than last year, everything associated with the technical data package must still be addressed. This includes reviewing the constituent documents to determine accuracy and completeness, setting up first article inspections, generating manufacturing process plans, and so on.

In this period of reduced resources, there is even less margin for error. This means that those companies that get it right the first time have a distinct competitive advantage over those that can’t. The former are more productive, more cost-efficient, better able to meet schedules, and more valuable to their customers who are being whipsawed by rapidly changing economic conditions.

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By Quality Digest


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Incredible as it seems, Six Sigma is now more than 20 years old and still going strong. The methodology saves companies huge sums of money by redefining processes and reducing defects. Long a staple of quality improvement at manufacturing plants, Six Sigma is now penetrating into sectors such as health care, government agencies, service organizations, and many more. Increasingly, lean precepts such as eliminating waste and more efficiently organizing workspaces have become integrated with Six Sigma project. The result, lean Six Sigma, has become prevalent across industry.

This section contains the Six Sigma Services and Software buyers guide. This directory can help you implement, maintain, and improve your organization’s Six Sigma efforts. Embracing the Six Sigma path often leads to stunning improvement in a very short period of time—the companies found in the following pages can help you get there. Those with the acronym “SVC” following their listing offer Six Sigma services; those with a “SW” offer Six Sigma software. Many, you’ll note, offer both.

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By Lisa Renda

"You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” The sage who authored this axiom must have had call centers in mind.

Clearly, maintaining quality is critical in every aspect of a company’s operation, but in few areas is it more important than in the call center. The reason is simple: It is often the initial customer “touch point”--that is, one of the first areas of a business with which a customer makes contact. Accordingly, the call center carries the burden of providing a company’s first impression. Whether that impression is positive or negative can help advance the relationship with the customer or prospect--or end it before it ever really begins. Consequently, managing quality in the call center has to be considered a top priority.

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By Anne Willimann



et’s travel back in time to September 10, 2008, at 10:28 a.m. At that moment, CERN became known to the general public when the first beam was successfully steered around the world’s most powerful particle accelerator—the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). This historic event marked the beginning of a new era of scientific discovery.

CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research, with headquarters in Geneva. Recognized as the world’s leading laboratory for particle physics, CERN is located 50 to 150 meters below ground under the city’s surroundings, and crosses the Swiss border with France. The LHC is installed in a tunnel 27 kilometers in circumference and provides collisions at the highest energy levels ever achieved in laboratory conditions. CERN physicists can observe these collisions via four huge detectors, exploring new territory in matter, energy, space, and time.

Particle Physics

Craig Cochran’s picture

By Craig Cochran

The most significant change in the upcoming revision to ISO 9001 is probably not what you'd expect it to be: It's not customer satisfaction, continual improvement or even the process-model structure of the standard. The most significant change is the requirement for quality objectives. ISO 9001:2000 requires that quality objectives be established at each relevant function and level within the organization (i.e., just about everywhere). The manner in which quality objectives are established and managed will have an enormous impact on the organization's performance. The quality objectives will either drive strategic improvements throughout the organization, significantly elevating the importance of the quality management system, or they'll simply become a meaningless exercise in data collection. It all depends on how the task is carried out.

 The basic requirements for quality objectives are quite simple: