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By: Quality Digest

In an effort to strengthen the automotive supply chain, the Automotive Industry Action Group will offer crisis management and business recovery training.

The emergency response training is the first of its kind in the automotive industry, says Andrew J. Cummins, executive director and CEO of AIAG. It became available on Aug. 3.

“As recent crises suggest, the supply chain is vulnerable,” Cummins says. “A domino effect in the supply chain may be created when disruptions occur at any single point.”

The crisis management process was developed by DaimlerChrysler Corp., Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. in cooperation with suppliers to help the industry save millions of dollars a year. The group urges suppliers to develop plans for crisis management, citing that many organizations now require suppliers to have them.

A recent study by Michigan State University, “Effective Practices for Business Continuity Planning in Purchasing and Supply Management,” found that companies are courting disaster if their business continuity plans fail to ensure supply chain continuity. Furthermore, the findings suggest that supply chains are increasingly fragile.

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By: Jeffrey S. Goss

Six Sigma, the statistical approach focused on increasing profitability by improving efficiency, has been part of the engineering world since the 1980s. Now, new innovative online and on-campus programs at Arizona State University are shaking up the way people all over the globe are doing business. Former ASU alumni Mikel Harry, a founder of Six Sigma at Motorola; and ASU Professor Doug Montgomery of the Center for Professional Development the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, have combined to create a group of online, comprehensive Six Sigma professional certifications.

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By: Chuck Doyle

Many organizations need answers to some key questions about lean and quality management: Is there a difference between quality and value? Should we have two teams, one for continuous improvement and one for lean? What roles would each have? What are the differences?

The source for this confusion is a misunderstanding about the terms “quality” and “value.” Part 1 of this series will deal with this misunderstanding. In Part 2, we will explore the roles, responsibilities and the differences between the two teams at work.

Over several decades, companies have focused their quality initiatives on listening to the customer and reducing defects. Many of these initiatives have paid off and organizations worldwide have improved the quality of their products. Companies that didn’t pay attention to customer needs and quality improvement have fallen by the wayside: They simply couldn’t make it in today’s highly competitive and demanding environment. In both cases, a lot of money and resources were invested in the efforts.

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By: Robert Nix

My first experience with the word “culture” comes from my high school science class. We grew a living organism on a nutrient base, which the teacher called a culture. The girls in class described it using the medical term, “Eeewwwww!” Years later, in the business world, I find top managers subjected to the pressure to incorporate a quality culture into their business, describing it in the executive term, “Eeewwwww!” Like the old cereal commercial, they are told it’s “supposed to be good for you,” which means it doesn’t taste very good.

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By: Quality Digest

Quest Diagnostics recently announced the selection of Instantis’ EnterpriseTrack tracking and management solution for its Six Sigma effort.

EnterpriseTrack will be in use by Quest Six Sigma teams spread across its business units.

“Information tracking and reporting needs for Six Sigma are demanding, often complex and continuously evolve,” says Eric Mattenson, Quest Diagnostics Six Sigma vice president. “Today, the EnterpriseTrack product from Instantis provides us with an elegant solution designed for Six Sigma that meets our project and knowledge management needs and provides a user interface simplicity that is driving rapid adoption by our Black Belts.”

Quest Diagnostics operates more than 2,000 patient centers, 155 rapid response laboratories and more than 30 regional laboratories. It performs more than one million tests a day.

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Top executives from Bank of America will host a Six Sigma symposium in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Oct. 25-27.

Bank Chairman and CEO Kenneth D. Lewis will deliver the keynote address, and the company’s Six Sigma Leadership Team will lead a moderated panel discussion about using Six Sigma to drive organic growth and innovation.

Other themes to be explored in seven workshops at the symposium include: using Six Sigma to increase customer satisfaction; using Six Sigma to drive innovation in service, products and technology; and using Six Sigma to improve process management.

The symposium will also offer case studies on 32 project applications, 12 roundtables and panel discussions, a member challenge competition, an awards dinner sponsored by the International Society for Six Sigma Practitioners and a tour of a Bank of America check processing facility, where Six Sigma practices are in use daily.

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By: Quality Digest

SigmaXL recently released an enhanced version of its eponymous software suite.

SigmaXL 3.0 features failure mode effects analysis; cause-and-effect matrix templates; gage repeatability and reliability templates with multivariable, X-bar and R-charts; as well as; multiple regression with residual plots; and basic design of experiments with Pareto of coefficients for determining the mean and standard deviations of interaction plots.

Additional features include the ability to add data to existing control charts median options for individual and moving range charts, and enhanced security options.

“Sigma XL was designed from the ground up to be a cost-effective, powerful, but easy-to-use tool that enables users to measure, analyze, improve and control their service, transactional and manufacturing processes,” says John Noguera, Sigma XL senior partner. “As an add-in to the already-familiar Microsoft Excel, SigmaXL is ideal for Six Sigma training.”

A free 30-day trial version is available for download at

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By: Quality Digest

DVT Corp. recently announced the availability of a new PC-based object linking and embedding for process control server designed to work with the company’s Legend series of smart camera-based machine vision systems.

OPC technology can eliminate expensive custom interfaces and drivers normally required for interconnecting equipment and moving data throughout the organization. It also promotes interoperability among different computing solutions and platforms both horizontally and vertically in an enterprise.

“The DVT OPC server opens the world of plug-and-play interoperability to machine vision users,” says Steve Gieseking, DVT director of research and development. “It’s easier to configure and is more robust than existing OPC software options.”

The OPC server was developed for DVT by Iconics Inc., a leader in OPC-based, Web-enabled visualization software for manufacturing, automation and business solutions. The following standards are supported by the OPC server: OPC DA 1.0, OPC DA 2.05A, OPC DA 3.0, OPC DA Auto 2.0, OPC XML-DA 1.0, OPC AE 1.10 and OPC Complex Data 1.0.

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By: Quality Digest

Vought Aircraft Industries Inc. recently signed a contract with Leica Geosystems to buy six laser tracking systems for its manufacturing operations in Dallas.

Vought reports it will extend the contract over a span of four years to replace its existing measurement systems with approximately 24 Leica LTD800s and LTD600 laser tracking systems. The contract value could total $4 million.

Under the sales agreement, Leica Geosystems will help Vought maximize its use of the high-tech portable coordinate measuring machines through extensive training services, technical support and maintenance. Vought Aircraft will use the laser trackers for the precision inspection of all its tooling operations in Texas as well as other Vought facilities in the United States. The industrial measurement instruments Vought plans to buy will be used for quality control in high profile military and commercial aircraft programs, although the devices can also be used in a wide variety of mobile precision measurements for the construction, assembly and mating of aerospace parts.

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By: Quality Digest

As organizations pursue quality and value, many find that Six Sigma alone isn’t enough to compete in the global marketplace. The addition of quality function deployment, however, often translates into increased functionality, quality and profitability.

International TechneGroup Inc. will host a teleconference seminar, “QFD At Its Best: Enabling Your Organization,” at 2 p.m. on Aug. 26. The company reports that participants will learn to make smarter decisions related to choosing, planning and delivering quality products to customers. In addition, participants will learn how QFD: