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By: Quality Digest

The latest American Customer Satisfaction Index held steady for the second quarter of 2004, remaining at its highest level in 10 years.

The index stands at 74.4, unchanged from last quarter. Economists report that the sunny news indicates high customer satisfaction, which generally contributes to increased consumer spending and a healthier economy. While satisfaction cannot completely offset recent price and interest rate hikes, the economy’s ability to deliver strong satisfaction levels should help bring spending back from its recent dip.

The report, which is produced by a partnership of the University of Michigan Business School, the American Society for Quality and CFI Group, suggests that the U.S. auto industry will have to fight to keep from losing customers to foreign carmakers, and that some domestic PC brands are gaining market shares. Industry-level satisfaction scores provide strong cues concerning which lines of business are most vulnerable to competition.

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By: Quality Digest

2003 was a year of transition for ISO 9001 and a year of significant growth for ISO 14001, reports ISO in its annual study.

Study results about ISO 9001 included:

  • Up to the end of 2003, at least 500,125 registrations had been issued in 149 countries and economies.
  • 2003 total registrations represent an increase of 200 percent over 2002, when the total was 167,210 registrations in 134 countries and economies.
  • The 2003 total represents a tenfold increase over 2001, when the total registrations were 44,388 in 98 countries and economies.

The survey found a dramatic increase in the number of registrations to ISO 14001. Among the findings were:

  • Up to the end of 2003, at least 66,070 registrations to ISO 14001 had been issued in 113 countries and economies.
  • The number of registrations to ISO 14001 in 2003 increased 34 percent from 2002—the largest increase in the nine annual surveys ISO has performed.
  • The 2003 total represents an increase of 24 percent over 2002, when the total was 49,448 registrations in 117 countries and economies.

For more information, visit www.iso.org.

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By: Quality Digest

Sypris Test & Measurement will relocate its San Francisco Bay Area calibration lab, the company announced recently.

The company moved from San Jose to Sunnyvale, California. Moving the lab places the company closer to existing customers in military, aerospace, communications, semiconductor and FDA-regulated markets. The new location also provides growth opportunities that the former location didn’t.

“The new Sunnyvale location offers some of the most advanced capabilities in our network or convenient service centers located throughout the United States,” says Derrell James, Sypris Test & Measurement general manager. “It also provides many of our customers with a more convenient pick-up and delivery location.”

For more information, visit www.calibration.com.

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By: Quality Digest

How did your quality system get so complex and redundant?
Many companies established their quality systems after having purchased a software program with a “canned” quality manual and procedures. Software companies try to subliminally sell you the concept “more is better.” Purchasing companies often don’t realize they also purchase a lot of junk that adds unnecessary complexity and length to their documentation system.

Other companies employ a management representative who over-interprets the standard so much that he or she develops a quality system that is too complex. Perhaps this is the result of management representatives being so fearful of missing something that they document everything, including how to fill the kitchen sink.

Many more efforts aren’t well-coordinated, with documents written in each department separately, while ignoring the big picture of the system approach. The result is several documents addressing the same issues (i.e. nonconforming product, identification of product, etc.) and tons of redundancy.

Other people who put your quality system together (including consultants):

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By: Quality Digest

Social Accountability International will hold its sixth annual conference in New York City on October 18.

The conference, “Corporate Social Responsibility and Workplace Standards: Responsible Strategies for Global Sourcing,” will focus on the latest developments where supply chain management and workplace accountability intersect, including:

  • Integrating social compliance programs with sourcing practices
  • Activating stakeholder partnerships
  • Corporate responsibility in China
  • Trends in public reporting on corporate social responsibility

Speakers include Jeffrey Swartz, Timberland president and CEO; Barbara Krumsiek, Calvert Group president and CEO; Neil Kearney, International Textile Garment and LeatherWorks Federation general secretary and Sandra Polaski, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace senior associate and project director.

The conference will be followed by SAI’s annual benefit dinner, held at the Tavern on the Green. Proceeds from the dinner will benefit SAI’s efforts to improve communities and workplaces by developing socially responsible standards.

For more information, visit www.cepaa.org.

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By: Quality Digest

A joint committee of the American National Standards Institute and the American Industrial Hygiene Association recently released a draft Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSMS) standard for public review.

The deadline to submit comments on the proposal is Oct. 15. ANSI established Accredited Standards Committee Z10, with the AIHA as its secretariat, when the work on the draft standard began in 1999. The committee drew from many established international standards when writing the OHSMS standard.

“The committee examined current national and international standards, guidelines and practices in the occupational, environmental and quality systems arena,” the committee reports in the draft. “They adapted the principles most relevant from these approaches into a standard that is compatible with the principal international standards as well as with management system approaches currently in use in the United States.”

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By: Quality Digest

The recent acquisition of Quality Certification Bureau Inc. by QMI made QMI the largest registrar in North America, according to the registrar.

The buy-out includes QCB Inc., QBC Corp., and QCB Organic, companies that are collectively based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. QMI reports it now has more than 10,700 registrations serviced by more than 400 employees.

Customers will notice little change as the companies are merged, QMI reports. “QMI and QCB have built strong reputations both here and abroad as respected registrars providing premier customer service,” says Wendy Tilford, QMI president. “Acquisition is a significant element of our growth strategy and QCB is an excellent fit.”

For more information, visit www.qmi.com.

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By: Denise Robitaille

Perhaps the single most pervasive reason top management resists the implementation of a quality management system relates to our failure, as quality professionals, to demonstrate the return on investment. We do a less-than-stellar job of demonstrating to executives the financial value implicit in ISO 9001:2000 or any of the other excellent QMS models.

Our linguistic inflection stresses the “quality” and downplays the “management.” Inadvertently, we end up de-emphasizing the role managers play in the strategic implementation of a QMS.

A good QMS helps an organization reach its goals. Those goals universally relate to satisfying customer requirements to make money. For nonprofits, the net gain produced by satisfying customer requirements might be reflected in such monetary benefits as reduced tax burden due to decreased dependencies on community resources.

The challenge for quality professionals is to sell top management on the financial benefits of ISO 9001—or whatever model is appropriate to that industry. We need to be able to say, with conviction, “If we implement this system, we will help our bottom line.” We need to show them the money.

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By: Quality Digest

Lockheed Martin Corp. announced it will buy a coordinate measuring machine (CMM) and laser scanner from Leica Geosystems Inc. for use in its Forth Worth, Texas, headquarters.

Under the terms of the contract, Leica’s metrology division will deliver an LR200 laser scanner (which combines radar, laser and 3-D software technologies) with a wireless T-Probe CMM. Lockheed uses laser tracking systems to demonstrate its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft modules and mating concepts as well as measuring and inspect assembly tooling details based on CAD models.

Leica’s LR200 delivers scan rates up to 1,000 points per second at distances up to 48 m, with accuracy up to 20 µm. It can also capture single point-to-point measurements and scan reflectorless surfaces like a green laser. Leica’s hand-held T-Probe CMM will be implemented with the LTD800/700 laser tracker series and enables the operator to capture 3-D data in a flexible manner.

For more information, visit www.leica-geosystems.com/metrology.

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By: Quality Digest

Delcam Inc. is offering a free CAD viewer that will allow users to view CAD models in all the major formats, including CATIA versions 4 and 5, Pro/Engineer 2001 and Wildfire, SDRC, Unigraphics, SolidWorks and Solid Edge, as well as other industry standards.

“Even though modern CAD software can produce incredibly realistic 2-D images of new designs, the ability to view a 3-D models is still more valuable for potential suppliers, distributors and customers,” says Peter Dickin, Delcam marketing manager. “With our free viewing software, there will be no limit on the number of collaborators to which companies will be able to distribute models of new design proposals.”

He adds that the offering will allow the fastest possible feedback from everyone involved in the delivery of new concepts into the marketplace. Early involvement by collaborators will help establish consensus on the proposed design, minimizing the number of changes that need to be made during the latter stages of product development.