Nicolette Dalpino  |  12/02/2008

News Digest



2008 Global Productivity Report

According to the “2008 Global Productivity Report,” the recent annual report from Proudfoot Consulting, staff shortages and internal communications problems are the main barriers to productivity around the globe, with staff shortages cited as the main barrier in the United States. Although companies in emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China are most likely to have seen recent gains in productivity, North American executives are the least optimistic about their chances of increasing efficiency, stating that more than 40 percent of potential improvements will remain untapped.

Between May 20 and June 30, 2008, Proudfoot Consulting conducted 1,272 computer-assisted interviews with companies earning $100 million or more in revenue. The interviews compared productivity in the automotive, communications, energy, financial services, food and beverage, manufacturing, engineering, mining, and retail industries. Results indicate that there are significant opportunities for improvement across geographies and industries.

Among the key findings:

Companies will leave 30 percent of potential productivity gains untapped during the next two years.

Managers spend 34 percent of their time on administrative tasks and only 10 percent of their time on training and supervising employees.

About 34 percent of the average employee’s time is spent on unproductive activities.

The top two barriers to improved productivity are a shortage of skilled workers and internal communication issues.


“This report shows that, regardless of location or of industry, most companies are not as productive as they could be,” says Hugo Melgarejo, Proudfoot’s North American president. “Our hope is that the results will inform and inspire companies around the world to go after that untapped potential.”

Comprising 88 pages of new data, analysis, and trends, the “2008 Global Productivity Report” includes sections on causes of inefficiency and barriers to efficiency, development and training, outsourcing and insourcing, potential vs. realistic efficiency gains, and productivity in emerging markets.

The 2008 Global Productivity Report can be downloaded for free at .


Survey Seeks to Identify Energy Trends

Covering the effect of the rising cost of fuel to green manufacturing practices, a recent MFGWatch survey asked participants from the United States and Canada who actively use MFG .com to source their manufacturing services to identify issues surrounding energy-centric trends.

Among other questions, buyers were asked if, in addition to transportation costs rising as a result of fuel price increases, they could identify associated factors affecting their businesses.

42 percent of the participants had increased raw-materials costs, e.g., oil derivatives such as plastics and chemicals.

22 percent of buyers encountered increased costs for manufacturing processes requiring heating and cooling.

12 percent of the respondents experienced reduced demand for their or their customers’ products or services.

9 percent of buyers had greater difficulty attracting and retaining staff.

3 percent responded that they were losing sales to more energy-efficient competitors.


When asked if their company was actively pursuing green (i.e., environmentally friendly) manufacturing practices, 51 percent of the participants responded affirmatively, citing recycling, waste reduction through more efficient manufacturing practices, and minimizing power consumption through more effective machine utilization as a few of the green initiatives that they were currently practicing.

Buyers employing green manufacturing practices were also asked how this affected their bottom lines.

29 percent stated that green practices save them money.

27 percent stated that green practices attract more business.

20 percent did not know if there was an effect on their bottom lines.

13 percent stated that green practices have no effect.

12 percent responded that green manufacturing practices cost them more money.


More than 450 respondents from the North American buyer community completed the survey, with 88.2 percent of the participants from the United States and 11.8 percent from Canada. Topics of the survey ranged from the effect of the rising cost of fuel to green manufacturing practices. Participants included engineers, purchasing professionals, and operations managers who actively use to source for manufacturing services, and custom and standard parts.

To view the full list of results from the survey, visit .


Do the Math

Last month’s “Do the Math” required a little bit of digging. We sent you to a Sept. 8, 2008, CBS News blog by Vaughn Ververs, “New Poll Shows McCain Up; Palin To Give First Interview.” In the blog, Ververs notes, “The Gallup poll shows McCain ahead 50 percent to 36 percent among registered voters but that lead increases to ten points among those identified as likely voters, 54 percent to 44 percent.”

All of you caught that the first part of the sentence showed a 14-percent lead and the second part a 10-percent lead, which is a decrease, not an increase. Not all of you, however, followed our instructions to “dig” down and speculate as to how the error occurred. In fact, there was a link in the story that took you to the original USA Today article mentioned in the blog. That article contained the results of the poll that Ververs referred to in which McCain led Obama by 50 percent to 46 percent (not 36 percent). Ververs made a typo when transcribing the numbers. So the intent of the blog was correct, but the numbers were in error.

Congratulations to Aaron Henton, randomly selected as our victim for a fabulous prize from

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New Book: Twenty Things You Need to Know

Drawing on 40 years of study, practice, instruction, and consultation, Twenty Things You Need to Know (SPC Press 2009), by Donald J. Wheeler, Ph.D., is a companion book to Wheeler’s Understanding Variation: The Key to Managing Chaos (SPC Press, 1993).

Twenty Things You Need to Know provides brief answers to many of the commonly occurring questions that arise when people begin to use process behavior charts.

Excerpt from chapter one: “Unfortunately, many who are numerically naïve do not recognize their naïveté. They think that because they can do arithmetic they are qualified to interpret data…. The first step in avoiding this numerical naïveté is to understand the nature of the two mistakes of data analysis:

Mistake One: Interpreting the routine variation of noise as if it amounted to a signal of a change in the underlying process, thereby sounding a false alarm

Mistake Two: Thinking that a signal of a change in the underlying process is merely the noise of routine variation, thereby missing a signal


The trick is to strike a balance between the two mistakes by filtering out the noise of routine variation so that we can detect the potential signals within our data. This is the essence of effective data analysis.”

Although a few chapters will recap material from Understanding Variation, the rest complement and complete the message of that book. In every case, the objective is to enable the reader to better and more easily use process behavior charts to get the most out of processes and operations.

Wheeler, a statistician who worked with both W. Edwards Deming and David S. Chambers, is author or co-author of 24 books and more than 160 articles. He is also a columnist for Quality Digest.

For further information, visit .


ISO Survey of Certifications-2007

Newly released, “The ISO Survey of Certifications-2007” reveals certification activity around the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)’s management system standards in 175 countries, which is up from 170 in 2006.

According to Alan Bryden, ISO secretary-general, “The survey illustrates, in a very concrete manner, the extent to which ISO management system standards are meeting the organization’s strategic objective of ‘global relevance,’ in other words, adding value for the organizations that use them all over the world.”

The 2007 survey data-collection methodology was strongly refocused on obtaining figures from primary sources (i.e., the certification bodies that actually issue certificates) to reduce the increased possibility of error inherent in obtaining data from secondary sources (accreditation bodies and databases). This has resulted in the totals for several countries being revised downward.

Certification activity slowed in anticipation of the forthcoming new edition of ISO 9001, with organizations adopting a “wait and see” attitude, as many did in the run-up to the 2000 edition. However, the market for certification is maturing in certain countries where this activity began early on.

For more about this survey, specifically as it applies to the ISO 14001 environmental management system standard, please turn to the article “The State of ISO 14001,” by Jeffrey H. Eves and Tim Hack, beginning on page 32 of this issue.

For further information, visit .


USDA Traceability Business Plan

In an effort to provide benchmarks to guide the National Animal Identification System’s (NAIS) progress toward the long-term goal of 48-hour traceback of affected or exposed animals in the event of an animal disease outbreak, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) released the official version of its “Business Plan to Advance Animal Disease Traceability.” The official version replaces the draft published in December 2007.

The NAIS is a modern, streamlined information system that helps producers and animal-health officials respond quickly and effectively to events affecting animal health in the United States. NAIS utilizes premises registration, animal identification, and animal tracing components to both locate potentially diseased animals and release animals from disease suspicion.

“Rapid and effective animal-disease containment is necessary to protect U.S. animal health and marketability,” says Bruce Knight, undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs at the USDA. “Traceability, or the access to accurate identification information, locations, and movement points for suspect and exposed animals is the key to determining the source and extent of a disease outbreak.”

The business plan provides USDA, its partners, and the public with realistic approaches and goals that have the support needed to successfully increase the level of animal traceability for disease response and control capabilities in the United States. It also takes a comprehensive look at the country’s current traceability status, including a breakdown by species, and details seven strategies that will provide the greatest amount of traceability progress where it is needed the most. These strategies involve state and federally regulated and voluntary animal-health programs, such as integrating NAIS standards into existing disease programs to make the most out of current disease-control activities.

Strategies also provide opportunities for producers to use the same identification methods for industry-administered animal management and marketing programs. Such approaches ensure producers cost-effective livestock identification solutions to achieve their management and business objectives. Likewise, the 840 identification tags used in NAIS enable producers to easily provide information about the origin of their livestock to packers. In turn, packers can rely on this information for their origin claims on products, in accordance with country-of-origin labeling.

For further information, visit .


ASQ’s 2008 Fellows

The American Society for Quality (ASQ) board of directors recently awarded Fellow status to 21 ASQ members. As newly elected Fellows, they are recognized as having achieved professional distinction and preeminence in the technology, theory, education, application, or management of quality control.

Quality Digest columnist, Denise E. Robitaille, president of Robitaille Associates of Kingston, Massachusetts, received Fellow status for outstanding contributions in section leadership of the Boston and Olde Colony sections; for international participation in International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards development; for international presentations of quality-related subjects, such as effective corrective actions; and for authoring eight books related to quality and more than 60 published articles.

“Recognition by one’s peers, from colleagues who share our work and our vision, is both a validation and an honor,” says Robitaille. “I am delighted and grateful to find myself in such good company.”

According to ASQ bylaws, Fellow membership status may be awarded to those individuals who have been ASQ members in good standing and have at least 15 years of quality-related experience, meet minimum score requirements across six professional categories, are sponsored by peers and endorsed by their ASQ section and/or division, and have been a senior member for five years or longer.

In addition to Robitaille, the new ASQ Fellows are:

  • Jonathon L. Andell, Andell Associates Consultants in Quality, Gilbert, Arizona
  • S. Anil Kumar, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Ranipet, Tamil Nadu, India
  • Bruce D. DeRuntz, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois
  • Necip Doganaksoy, Global Research Center, Niskayuna, New York
  • B. Reddy Gottipolu, Fairview Health System, Eagan, Minnesota
  • Brian J. Horstman, Steelcase Inc., Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • David B. Levy, Levy Quality Consulting LLC, Cortlandt Manor, New York
  • Joanne D. Mayo, Nortel, Cary, North Carolina
  • Andrija Milivojevich, The Knowledge Management Group, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
  • Raul F. Molteni, Molteni & Asociados, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Vijayan N. Nair, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Kim S. Niles, Alphatec Spine Inc., Escondido, California
  • Gregory F. Piepel, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington
  • Steven Richard Pollock, Humana Inc., Louisville, Kentucky
  • Norma Simons, Simons-White & Associates, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Nicholas L. Squeglia, N. L. Squeglia & Associates, Essex, Connecticut
  • Sunil Thawani, Sama Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Johan Veltmeyer, Griffith University, Robina, Queensland, Australia
  • Gamal S. Weheba, Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas
  • Linda Westfall, The Westfall Team, Plano, Texas

For further information, visit


Better Emergency Room Care

In the United States, visits to the hospital emergency department account for approximately 10 percent of all ambulatory medical care visits. To reduce overcrowding, decrease patient wait time, and improve quality of care, the National Quality Forum (NQF) endorsed 10 national voluntary consensus standards for hospital-based emergency department care.

“Increased accountability and information-sharing through measurement and public reporting can help to truly enhance the performance of our nation’s emergency departments,” says Janet Corrigan, president and CEO of NQF. “These consensus standards for emergency department care are an important part of a broader goal to improve the quality and efficiency of health care in America.”

The measures within this set address the safety and effectiveness of emergency care, care coordination and communication, and efficient management of patient flow through the emergency department. Specific measures track the wait time for patients, from arrival to departure within the emergency department, and the number of emergency department patients who leave without seeing a physician. Measures also address patient safety by tracking procedures and medications administered to patients while in the emergency department.

The endorsement of these measures is phase two of a project to increase public accountability and quality improvement related to emergency care at both the facility and practitioner levels. Phase one occurred in 2007 with 12 national voluntary consensus standards to measure emergency department communication and acute myocardial infarction care as it relates to emergency department transfers.

Suzanne Stone-Griffin, RN, MSN, assistant vice president of clinical services at the Hospital Corporation of America, and Dr. John Moorhead, professor of emergency medicine at the Oregon Health and Science University, co-chaired NQF’s steering committee on hospital-based emergency department care.

“The measures developed through NQF’s consensus process reflect a commitment to advancing safety, quality, access, efficiency, and affordability in our emergency departments,” says Stone-Griffin. “These measures will help drive safe, high-quality, and efficient care and serve as levers to overcome the challenges of emergency department overcrowding.”

For further information, and to view a list of the new measures, visit .



About The Author

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Nicolette Dalpino

Nicolette Dalpino is a news editor for Quality Digest.