Content By Quality Digest

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By: Philip Crosby Associates

Ask employees at any financial institution to pick two words to describe a typical core system conversion, and "major headache" is likely the nicest description you’ll hear. Ask that question at $1 billion South Carolina Federal Credit Union, North Charleston, South Carolina, and prepare to hand over a quarter. The "C word" was retired from acceptable office language in the aftermath of a stressful 1996 conversion project, and just uttering it within that credit union’s halls will earn you a 25-cent fine.

Why such visceral reactions? Because converting the entire body of financial data an institution holds from one software system to another is fraught with potential pitfalls. If intricate dependencies aren’t properly mapped, firing up the new system can trigger serious errors that lead to jammed phone lines, online balance outages, brutally long lines at branch offices, and stressed out members and employees.

South Carolina FCU is converting again in 2005 and this time, its leaders expect the process to be much smoother. The 136,000 members who together hold $1 billion in assets with the credit union—not to mention the 363 employees who work in its 16 branches—will have the organization’s culture of quality to thank for the smooth transition.

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By: Quality Digest

ASI DataMyte opened a Brazilian subsidiary recently, expanding the quality solutions provider’s market share in South America.

The new subsidiary, ASI DataMyte do Brasil Equipamentos para Controle de Qualidade Ltda., will be operated by Marcelo Trovo and Agnaldo Trovo. The two were formerly distributors of the ASI DataMyte line in Brazil.

ASI DataMyte manufactures data collection devices, gage management software and precision measurement devices. It’s also a leading developer of statistical process control software solutions for the manufacturing industry.

For more information, visit ASI Datamyte online.

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By: Quality Digest

The new version of AssurX’s CATSWeb Enterprise Quality Tracking System includes new features that increase user productivity.

The additions of CATSWeb dynamic forms and full-text search features are the centerpieces of the new release. Dynamic forms allows users to adapt based on prior inputs during the data entry process. Other features and typical uses include:

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By: Quality Digest

ASI DataMyte was recently awarded a “People Make Quality Happen” award by General Motors.

The manufacturer received the award for its 501 Fit Gate program, implemented to check gap and flush and vehicle body panels during final assembly. The program replaced an inefficient “carrot stick” method of measuring gap and flush, which increased quality and decreased defective shipments.

ASI DataMyte was one of 10 companies selected from 1,000 entries to win the award.

The award is the culmination of the United Auto Workers and GM’s joint quality network, and is administered annually.

For more information, visit General Motors online.

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By: Quality Digest

The National Committee for Quality Assurance recently released the newest version of its comprehensive Quality Compass database.

For the first time, the database includes a measure of flu shots given to adults aged 50-64 last year. The metric is important, reports the NCQA, because influenza hospitalizes 120,000 older adults and kills 40,000 people annually. As a result, the number of flu shots administered in a particular area gives health care consumers, insurers and providers an idea of the population’s general health.

“Quality Compass gives the health care market what it needs most—clear, easy to understand information about performance,” says NCQA Executive Vice President Greg Pawlson. “It’s a buyers guide for anyone who has to make a decision about which health plan to contract with.”

The database also includes information on NCQA accreditation and plan-specific results on HEDIS and CAHPS measures, data sets that measure clinical performance and member satisfaction, respectively. It also allows employers to directly compare a health plan’s HEDIS and CAHPS scores to competitors or to national and regional benchmarks.

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By: Quality Digest

July marked the 20th anniversary of the Coordinate Measurement Systems Conference, the only conference solely devoted to the users, services and OEM manufacturers of close-tolerance coordinate measurement systems, software and peripherals.

This year’s conference and exhibition was held in San Jose, California, and included products from more than 40 vendors, including FARO Technologies Inc., Leica Geosystems, Metrologic Instruments Inc. and Romer CIMCore. Prominent at this year’s show were a number of metrology products geared toward in-place 3-D measurement of large assemblies such as aircraft, automobiles and even a Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur. Some of the technologies displayed included laser trackers, radar trackers, photogrammetry and articulated inspection arms.

Nearly 20 technical seminars were presented by representatives from both industry and research, including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, The Boeing Co., Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Airbus and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

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By: Quality Digest

ORBIS Corp. recently announced it hired Allen Dembski to lead the company’s Six Sigma implementation.

“Allen’s proven expertise in executing continuous improvement initiatives will provide ORBIS with enhanced operational and administrative efficiencies to provide our customers with high-quality, cost-efficient packaging,” says Dave Schopp, ORBIS Corp. CEO.

Dembski will interface with all ORBIS locations and will oversee all education, training, strategy development and project implementation efforts related to Six Sigma. Prior to joining ORBIS, he worked for 23 years in a variety of roles for General Electric, including engineering new product program manager, engineering Master Black Belt, Global Six Sigma Center of Excellence manager and quality and validation manager.

For more information, visit www.orbiscorporation.com.

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By: Quality Digest

Employees of Baxa Corp. recently graduated from a government-funded pilot program in Six Sigma methodology and were deployed to use their new skills to improve their company.

The training program is just part of Baxa’s quality improvement efforts. The company is now working on several quality improvement efforts designed to give the Six Sigma effort internal momentum, while using Six Sigma graduates to train other employees in the methodology.

“Six Sigma gives up practical solutions that impact the bottom line,” says Greg Baldwin, Baxa chairman and CEO. “Our expectation is that this means of process review and waste elimination will become part of our culture of delivering customer satisfaction and value, while at the same time improving profitability.”

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By: Praveen Gupta

Launching a Six Sigma initiative starts with a lot of enthusiasm from the “champion” who’s found courage and conviction to persuade management to commit to it. With enough resources, interest, excitement and the help of some consultants, the Six Sigma initiative gets off the ground. After initial training, the promise of Six Sigma starts fading. The interest level wanes, the “champion” moves on and the Six Sigma crew starts losing its touch. In the Six Sigma journey, it’s only a matter of time before the team loses its momentum and ceases to progress. Sustaining a Six Sigma initiative is at least as important as launching it.

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By: Mike Micklewright

I’m a huge proponent of both Six Sigma and lean manufacturing. I’ve been teaching the tools used in Six Sigma for more than 15 years, and I make a portion of my living from consulting and training in these areas.

However, Six Sigma and lean manufacturing are business improvement processes that should be viewed to be part of a continually improving quality management system (i.e., ISO 9001). Six Sigma and lean are not replacements for your quality system; they must be fully integrated into your quality system to make them more effective.

As more companies embark on a Six Sigma, lean manufacturing or lean Six Sigma journey, they either forget about their ISO 9001-registered quality system or bypass building a quality system altogether. ISO 9001 seems to be losing steam as Six Sigma and lean are gaining in popularity. In fact, according to the American Society for Quality, attendance at the annual ASQ Six Sigma Conference has increased from 223 attendees in 2002 to 333 in 2004, whereas attendance at the annual ASQ ISO 9000 Conference had less than half the number of attendees (152) in 2004.