Nicolette Dalpino  |  02/27/2009

News Digest



Body Armor Is Safe

Although the Department of Defense Inspector General (DOD IG) report on body armor identified a range of issues involving Army testing processes and documentation dating back to 2007, both the Army, which conducted the tests, and the office of the DOD’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), which independently assessed and verified the results, disagree with the DOD IG’s report.

The issue arose after the DOD IG reviewed 21 designs of body armor already tested by the Army. The Army had determined that 13 of the 21 designs failed tests. The DOD IG concluded that three of the eight that had passed the Army’s test actually failed. The implication is that the Army issued faulty armor plates to soldiers.

The Army maintains that the ballistic inserts issued to soldiers are effective, and do in fact provide protection for soldiers who wear them. However, to ensure that soldiers maintain confidence in the body armor issued to them, the Army has agreed to collect the plates until the issue is further reviewed.

“Let’s put this into perspective. Out of more than 2,300 body armor tests conducted by the Army, the DOD IG is questioning three of them,” says Secretary of the Army, Pete Geren. “DOT&E, the government’s preeminent independent expert, says the plates passed those three tests. And let’s not forget, since 2002, we have produced and fielded over 2 million plates of body armor. That body armor has saved the lives of thousands of soldiers.”

The main issue to come out of the review focused on the reliability of testing and whether contractors should be allowed to perform these tests. Among the important testing reforms implemented, the Army is now assigning responsibility for article testing to the Army Test and Evaluation Command instead of using outside contractors.

The DOT&E is the government’s preeminent and independent authority in the highly specialized field of ballistic testing. It independently, examined the three tests of the plates at issue.

“The DOT&E examined the Army’s testing of the armor plates referred to in the IG report and determined that the plates passed the tests,” Says Brigadier General Peter N. Fuller, commanding general of the Soldier Systems Center. “In clear, unequivocal language, DOT&E declared that the three designs meet the performance specification in place at the time of each test.”

For further information, visit


IAQG Releases AS9100 Revision

In an effort to improve product quality and prompt delivery of products, the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG) released a revision to AS9100, the quality management system (QMS) standard for the aviation, space, and defense industries.

To make significant improvements in quality and reduce cost throughout the value stream, teams worked together to implement initiatives while striving to meet the needs of stakeholders. With this goal in mind, nearly 700 comments and change recommendations were reviewed by the IAQG AS9100 team.

Some of the changes to AS9100 include:

Expansion of scope to include land-and sea-based systems for defense applications

Risk management

Project management

Configuration management

Critical items and special requirements


Bill Black, IAQG president, commented that the release later this year of the revised quality management system standard is a vital step toward achieving the IAQG goal of transforming the on-time, on-quality delivery (OTOQD) performance of the aviation, space, and defense industry.

“Our mission in IAQG is to raise dramatically the OTOQD performance of our industry for the benefit of our customers and our shareholders,” says Black. “This collaborative effort of the major industrial players takes a great leap forward with the next issue of the AS9100 standard that defines the foundation of our business operations.”

The standard can be can be obtained from national and regional standards publication bodies. The IAQG will provide and post on its web site AS9100 deployment support material to accompany the release of AS9100.

For further information, visit


Do the Math

In last month’s “Do the Math” we sent you to our friends at Quality Progress to look at their salary survey. We pointed out that the error wasn’t really a math error. In the analysis of the survey data, they made a common mistake. The problem lies in statements such as “Membership in ASQ raises your salary by almost $5,000,” which implies causation.

The problem with such statements is described by Steve Osborn, who submitted this particular “Do the Math.”

“The problem is that the author is suggesting causation where there is only association (or correlation). Correlation does not prove causation. One factor correlated to another can be:

An inverse relationship, e.g., having more money enables one to afford ASQ membership.

Both factors are correlated with another causation factor, e.g., ASQ membership is associated with being a direct supervisor or independent consultant, which is also associated with higher salary

Or, in fact, it could be the hypothesized causation relationship, which is, ASQ membership brings additional knowledge to the member, allowing them to be paid more.”


Winner of this month’s “Do the Math” is Corinne Wood. Sorry, Corinne, but we will be sending you a prize from

Next month’s puzzle
Go to . What’s the error in this segment? Send your answer to . If we pick your name, you win a prize from .

Send us your puzzles
If you spot math murder in the media, send it to us at If we use it, you get a prize from


Manufacturers Holding Steady in 2009

As manufacturing continues at a 26-year low in the United States,, an online marketplace for the manufacturing community, engaged 570 North American suppliers in their January 2009 MFGWatch Survey. The survey asked if participants were optimistic about the global industry rebounding in 2009. The results were mixed: 37 percent of respondents were optimistic, 28 percent were neutral, and 34 percent thought that a 2009 rebound was unlikely.

The survey also covered such topics as the state of the global economy, current business conditions, and survival plans to combat the economic downturn. Surprisingly, even though more than half of the respondents replied that their businesses were experiencing declining conditions, 45 percent projected growth in 2009, while 2 percent expected their business to remain at last year’s level. Overall, manufacturers are making tough choices to steady the bottom line and boost operational efficiencies.

Questioned about the potential of company growth in 2009, 36 percent projected they will grow up to 24 percent within the year, while percent stated that they did not plan to be in business by the end of 2009.

Suppliers were also asked if their customers had increased or decreased the volume (both value and quantity) of their orders in the past six months. In response, 61 percent said that their orders had decreased, 22 percent had no change in business, and 15 percent were experiencing an increase in orders from their client base. Survey participants were asked a follow-up question: If their customers have decreased the volume, have they increased the frequency of their orders? Nearly 90 percent responded in the negative. More than half stated that there was no work coming back into the United States from overseas.

When asked if their companies had to reduce profitability margins to increase customer demand and new customer acquisition, more than half responded affirmatively, while 39 percent said that they had not decreased their profit margins and 7 percent were not sure. Other areas of change noted were layoffs, automated payroll, opening and closing of new facilities, and an increase or decrease in shift time.

Due to the current state of the economy, employers listed hiring new employees, canceling capital equipment purchases, and curtailing travel to customers and trade shows as a few ways to tighten the company budget. Conversely, companies were looking for new ways to expand business to reach into new areas to increase revenue. Three quarters of respondents saw promise for additional contract manufacturing business in a variety of industries, including wind and solar power, medical, marine, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, mechanical assembly, subassembly and test, automotive accessories, agriculture, aerospace, and more.

Respondents were also looking at a variety of strategies to acquire new customers in 2009, such as increasing their web presence, entering new markets, attending more trade shows, retaining a sales representative or broker, expanding their outside sales staff, and expanding their inside sales team.

For further information, visit


Book Review 

New Field Guide for IT Consultants

Looking for the difference between being an average consultant and an extraordinary one? Everyday Practices of Extraordinary Consultants (Red Line Publishing Group, October 2008), by Christine Lambden and Casey Conner, aims to teach readers the tricks of the trade.

“Most consultants aren’t trained to think ahead, and instead are in perpetual reactive mode, scrambling to solve problems which they could have seen coming,” says Lambden. “The key is not just thinking one move ahead, but to think 27 moves ahead.”

Lambden and Conner structured their book around the martial arts tenet of thinking many moves ahead, covering not just how to consult, but offering insights into preparing for a wide variety of issues.

Key areas covered include:

Fundamental moves: From thinking ahead and managing the first day on the job, to picking your battles, to travel tips

Communication moves: The art of listening and asking, the power of metaphors, and conducting meetings and presentations

Integrity moves: Ethics, admitting you don’t know or were wrong, managing expectations, and handling personal disasters on company time

Administrative moves : The importance of writing down what happens, billing, status reports, action items and assumptions, risks, and issues

Lambden explains an example of the type of advice that the book provides: “It’s important for consultants to realize that ‘success’ is a fuzzy concept and relative term, based mostly on the client’s interpretation of what was promised and delivered. It is imperative to make these two interpretations the same and not to overpromise, which is a common tendency.”

Written for the IT consulting industry, Everyday Practices for Extraordinary Consultants includes very specific skills a consultant can use to improve their communication, productivity, and job satisfaction. Topics include presentation skills, consulting ethics, questions to ask on your first day, travel advice, consulting terminology, and getting along with people.

For further information, visit


ECCB, ANAB Hazardous Substance Program

The Electronic Components Certification Board (ECCB) and the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) will partner to develop a program for accredited certification to ensure that manufacturers have effective processes for controlling the hazardous materials in their products. The program will be based on the IEC Quality Assessment System IECQ QC 080000 as implemented by QC 001002-5, resulting in IECQ certificates that also bear the ANAB accreditation mark.

“By cooperating with ANAB to accredit certified bodies to the IECQ standard, ECCB is taking a path to expand its reach in a way that’s more efficient and cost-effective for those we serve,” says Stanley Salot Jr., president of the Electronics Components Certification Board.

Under the program, an ANAB-accredited certification body will be qualified to evaluate a supplier’s hazardous substances process management system (HSPM) and grant facility approval for the products concerned.

Consumers and retailers will be able to seek out goods bearing the accredited certification mark for IECQ-HSPM as an assurance of manufacturing processes free of hazardous substances.

IECQ developed the international specification QC 080000, which takes the basic quality management system requirements of ISO 9001 and provides a specific focus for legislative and customer requirements for the management of hazardous substances. ECCB is the U.S.-national authorized institute for IECQ.

Approximately 1,500 companies worldwide hold certification to the IECQ standard. Development of a joint ECCB-ANAB program provides an opportunity for certification bodies to expand their scope of services by offering accredited certification for IECQ.

For more information about ECCB, visit

For more information about ANAB, visit


Book Review:

The Benefits of Lean in Hospital Settings

Fostering innovation, ownership, and accountability at the front-line staff level is the basis of Lean Hospitals: Improving Quality, Patient Safety and Employee Satisfaction (Productivity Press, July 2008) by Mark Graban, a senior consultant with ValuMetrix Services from Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, a Johnson & Johnson company.

Lean Hospitals is not a “how-to” guide, rather the book provides an overview of lean, highlighting the benefits of lean methods for patients, employees, physicians and the hospital itself. Drawing on his years of working with hospitals, Graban explains why and how lean can be used to improve safety, quality, and efficiency in a health care setting.

After highlighting the benefits of lean methods, he explains how lean manufacturing staples such as value-stream mapping and process observation can help hospital personnel identify and eliminate waste in their own processes, effectively preventing delays for patients, reducing wasted motion for caregivers, and improving the quality of care. Additionally, Graban describes how standardized work and error-proofing can prevent common hospital errors and details root cause problem-solving and daily improvement processes that can engage all personnel in systemic improvement.

“Mark Graban provides a helpful translation of the terms, practices, and tools of lean thinking into hospitals’ everyday situations and challenges,” says David Mann, author of Creating a Lean Culture (Productivity Press, 2005).

A popular speaker with health care audiences, Graban is the founder of, a leading web site about lean. He has published articles in such prestigious publications as “Laboratory Medicine” and the 2007 and 2008 editions of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers “Lean Yearbook.”

For further information, visit

For a video interview with Graban, visit


A Really Small Pill to Swallow

As the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) equipped to meet the emerging regulatory challenge of dietary supplements that use engineered nanomaterials? The short answer is no, according to a report by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN). The ability of the FDA to regulate the safety of dietary supplements using nanomaterials is severely limited by lack of information, lack of resources, and the agency’s lack of statutory authority in certain critical areas, according to PEN.

The report, A Hard Pill To Swallow: Barriers to Effective FDA Regulation of Nanotechnology-Based Dietary Supplements , details the main problems at FDA in regulating nano-enabled dietary supplements and offers a host of recommendations for improving oversight of such products. In 2007, the global market for goods incorporating nanotechnology totaled $147 billion. Lux Research projects that figure will grow to $3.1 trillion by 2015.

“Historically, the regulation of dietary supplements has been a significant challenge for FDA, and the fact that some of those products are now being manufactured using nanotechnology creates an additional layer of complexity,” says William B. Schultz, a coauthor of the report and a former FDA official.

Little is known about the use of engineered nanoparticles in the dietary supplement market. Current law requires supplement manufacturers to disclose limited information about their products, and what information is available is a result of dietary supplement manufacturers touting the use of nanotechnology when marketing their products, according to the report.

“While it is not possible to precisely determine the prevalence of dietary supplements using engineered nanoparticles, it is likely that the public’s exposure to these products will grow significantly in the next several years,” says Lisa Barclay, also a coauthor of the report.

According to an inventory of federal environmental, health, and safety research on nanotechnology maintained by PEN, the U.S. government is spending less than $1 million annually to study the direct effect of nanoscale materials on the gastrointestinal tract.

For further information, visit


About The Author

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Nicolette Dalpino

Nicolette Dalpino is a news editor for Quality Digest.