The House of High Quality Articles for Everyone in the World

May 27, 2010


Definition of Standards
Standards are documented agreements containing technical specifications or other precise criteria to be used consistently as rules, guidelines, or definitions of characteristics, to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose.

Need for Standardisation
The existence of non-harmonized standards for similar technologies in different countries or regions can contribute to so-called "technical barriers to trade". Export-minded industries have long sensed the need to agree on world standards to help rationalize the international trading process. This was the origin of the establishment of ISO.
International standardization is well-established for many technologies in such diverse fields as information processing and communications, textiles, packaging, distribution of goods, energy production and utilization, shipbuilding, banking and financial services. It will continue to grow in importance for all sectors of industrial activity for the foreseeable future.

Main Reasons for Standardisation
Worldwide progress in trade liberalization

Today's free-market economies increasingly encourage diverse sources of supply and provide opportunities for expanding markets. On the technology side, fair competition needs to be based on identifiable, clearly defined common references that are recognized from one country to the next, and from one region to the other. An industry-wide standard, internationally recognized, developed by consensus among trading partners, serves as the language of trade.

Interpenetration of sectors

No industry in today's world can truly claim to be completely independent of components, products, rules of application, etc., that have been developed in other sectors. Bolts are used in aviation and for agricultural machinery; welding plays a role in mechanical and nuclear engineering, and electronic data processing has penetrated all industries. Environmentally friendly products and processes, and recyclable or biodegradable packaging are pervasive concerns.

Worldwide communications systems

The computer industry offers a good example of technology that needs quickly and progressively to be standardized at a global level. Full compatibility among open systems fosters healthy competition among producers, and offers real options to users since it is a powerful catalyst for innovation, improved productivity and cost-cutting.

Global standards for emerging technologies

Standardization programmes in completely new fields are now being developed. Such fields include advanced materials, the environment, life sciences, urbanization and construction. In the very early stages of new technology development, applications can be imagined but functional prototypes do not exist. Here, the need for standardization is in defining terminology and accumulating databases of quantitative information.

Developing countries

Development agencies are increasingly recognizing that a standardization infrastructure is a basic condition for the success of economic policies aimed at achieving sustainable development. Creating such an infrastructure in developing countries is essential for improving productivity, market competitiveness, and export capability.

Industry-wide standardization is a condition existing within a particular industrial sector when the large majority of products or services conform to the same standards. It results from consensus agreements reached between all economic players in that industrial sector - suppliers, users, and often governments. They agree on specifications and criteria to be applied consistently in the choice and classification of materials, the manufacture of products, and the provision of services. The aim is to facilitate trade, exchange and technology transfer through:
1- Enhanced product quality and reliability at a reasonable price;
2- Improved health, safety and environmental protection, and reduction
of waste;
3- Greater compatibility and interoperability of goods and services;
4- Simplification for improved usability;
5- Reduction in the number of models, and thus reduction in costs;
6- Increased distribution efficiency, and ease of maintenance.

Users have more confidence in products and services that conform to International Standards. Assurance of conformity can be provided by manufacturers' declarations, or by audits carried out by independent bodies.

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Balanced Scorecards

A Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is a strategic management tool that measures how well the business activities are aligned with the organization’s strategic vision. It balances financial results with non-financial performance metrics. The novelty of the Balanced Scorecard is the addition of non-financial metrics.

Without a balanced scorecard, a business tends to be judged only by short-term financial results. These may hide serious problems. An example would be: reduce short-term costs by deferring all maintenance expenditures. If the balanced scorecard were to include a question probing “percentage of maintenance completed on schedule”, this would be discovered.

It is also a management system – not just a measurement tool – in that it helps to clarify vision and to translate strategy into activity.


The following steps describe, at a high level, how to build a balanced scorecard:

•Identify a few significant financial and non-financial metrics
•Attach targets
•Measure results
•Report deviations from the targets
•Take corrective action.
To implement a Balanced Scorecard system:

•Translate the strategic vision into operational targets
•Communicate the vision and targets throughout the organization
•Make plans for the business: set performance targets by unit or department
•Measure, obtain feedback, learn from mistakes, adjust the strategy
It is rare to have more than 20 metrics in a BSC; only about a quarter should be financial.

The BSC should answer 4 questions:

•How do shareholders (owners of small firms; stakeholders in not-for-profit organizations) perceive the organization?
•How do customers perceive the organization?
•How excellent are our internal processes?
•How well are we innovating, learning and improving?

Barriers to Successful Strategy
There seem to be four barriers to successfully reaching strategic objectives:

•Understanding the Vision: Too few people understand the strategic vision.
•Divergent Objectives: Too many people have objectives which differ from the strategy.
•Inadequate Resources: Time, money and energy are not applied to strategic objectives.
•Management Distraction: Upper management is distracted from strategic objectives by short-term issues.

Hurdling over the Barriers
The BSC helps to overcome all four barriers:

•The BSC should be published, distributed to, and explained to all employees.
•The BSC names targets for each department. This should reduce the divergence of objectives.
•Since the BSC identifies strategic goals and department objectives, it should also have assigned adequate resources.
•Since the entire business will be measured on results versus the targets named in the BSC, the focus should remain on meeting the strategic objectives.

Making a Strong Start

The BSC starts with strategy, not with detailed performance objectives.
It is tempting to say, “We know that our strategy is to be profitable and to grow the business. So let’s set our BSC goals around profit and revenue; increasing our customer base; oh, yes, let’s throw in growing the average order quantity. That should do it”.

No, it does not. The above paragraph does not even begin to cover the “customer” situation. Should the company set targets on customer retention? Should it use customer satisfaction scores as an early indicator of retention problems? Would it be wise to track customer referrals versus gaining new customers from cold calls?

This also did not address resources. How will the company increase customer satisfaction? By reducing defects? By reducing late deliveries? By reducing standard order-to-ship times? How will the company make these improvements? Is there a budget for kaizen (continuous improvement) or for other, more specific improvement programs?

Final Motivation
An organization that only uses financial results for guidance is like driving a car by looking at the rear-view mirror – you know where you have been, but you are not planning for the next curve. The Balanced Scorecard system forces the organization to look forward, and later checks how well the curve has been followed.

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May 25, 2010

Three Factors of Quality Management

The process of quality management needs to be planned carefully. This is the process you are going to use for a quality management project. The process will ensure the customer's needs are met with the deliverables. Implementing a process to ensure this result is very important for controlling quality. The process you will implement needs to include reviews and testing by quality assurance teams and techniques used with quality control. These are required to determine the final product and to assess quality throughout every step of the project.

Quality management includes a big factor that must be included in a project. This is quality review. A quality review includes the steps you take to measure the level of quality of the product or deliverable. In most cases, any testing group will have a document listing the customer's requirements. Testers will verify the product meets all of the requirements. In addition, testers will also look for bugs or defects in the product that need to be acknowledged and repaired prior to going live. A quality review also includes the actions that need to be taken to meet improvements and the customer's requirements.

The final product is the deliverable. Quality management will determine if the final product meets the exact needs and requirements of the customer. You should maintain an entire project log of every step that brought you to the final phase. This log will include defects that first existed and the steps taken to repair them. A log will help you determine the status of each product, and if it meets the targets that have been set for quality. It will help you determine if you are ready to go live with the end product or if there is still reworking that needs to be done. Quality management relies on you keeping an entire log of all processes and events of a project and it is a core part of the entire process.

Quality management includes three factors which organizations must follow when they are releasing a new product for a customer. These include implementing a quality process which will define the steps that will be taken to ensure the product meets the requirements of the customer, testing and assurance that the product meets the requirements, and a final review before it goes live and is released to the customer.

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May 22, 2010

Benefits of Process Mapping

Process mapping is an essential tool of Six Sigma Projects that everyone needs to take advantage of. This allows you to get a visual glimpse of your business processes and how they are currently operating, as well as allowing you to see how they could be operating better by mapping out potential solutions.

Using process mapping along with other Six Sigma metrics can prove to be advantageous in determining the who, what, where, when, why, and how of problems and also the best possible solutions based on the available information. Here are five benefits of process mapping in your Six Sigma Projects:

1. Pictures are worth 1000 words. If you use charts, graphs, and other images, you will easily save yourself the trouble of writing up dozens of pages of information on the processes that need fixing and the data that you've collected. Pictures will serve you much better than a 100 page report in every single instance.

2. Process improvement is easier done when it can be analyzed through process mapping. Identifying issues and changing processes is much easier because you can pinpoint exact places where changes need to happen.

3. Visualizing processes makes the problem clearer from the start. When you can physically see where things are going wrong, you are going to be better able to fix them so that they can become more effective processes. People tend to understand the 'show me' aspect of data analysis better than the 'tell me' aspect.

4. Compliance requirements and standards need to be met. Using process mapping can help to keep track of the process improvement projects that you've done, including all the information and details about the process and the control of the improvements. It makes for better auditing and understanding within the organization.

5. Training can be more effective through visualization. You can have someone read a 500 page book on Six Sigma. You can tell them everything that they need to know, and make them write notes to keep track. They still won't remember as much or understand the practical application until they have a visual example to help them understand how things work.

Process mapping used with Six Sigma Projects has many different advantages and benefits, as you can clearly see. Allow yourself some time to figure out exactly what you need and how it can best benefit you, and then you will be in a much better place with your business. Six Sigma Projects are very effective means of process improvement, but can be even more effective with the addition of process mapping.

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May 20, 2010

Six Sigma for Improving Production

Six Sigma is a methodology for eliminating product variation like decreasing production costs and increasing revenue. There are as many ways to approach application of this methodology as there are companies offering training and consulting. You can get your feet wet with an on online course for a couple hundred dollars or sink many thousands into a company-wide Six Sigma program.

Some companies espouse the philosophy that Six Sigma works best implemented from the top all the way down while others prefer e a modular approach. And, the range of services they offer varies greatly. Identifying your goals beforehand is critical to choosing the path that will give you the best return on investment, which is, after all, what Six Sigma is about. Six Sigma is an investment, so do your research and find the best fit for your company and your goals.

Here is a review of six Canadian companies that specialize in Six Sigma training.

At e-Zsigma, Six Sigma is "both a business philosophy and goal," and the company's comprehensive approach is reflected in its Web site, which is packed with details about its services plus products, resources, tools, news, and events. Here, the pursuit of perfection begins with the immersion of your whole business in the world of Six Sigma.

The Toronto-based company, started in 1980, offers certification in everything from White Belt to Black Belt and can provide consulting and ongoing management support. Its reach is worldwide and the company's partners are diverse, from banking to manufacturing.

Six Sigma Canada, which focuses on certifying Green Belts and Black Belts, offers an "Open Enrollment" program in addition to large-scale Six Sigma deployments. Open Enrollment gives individuals and small companies opportunities to get Six Sigma training and to learn alongside people from a variety of industries.

Founded in 1999, the company's philosophy is that while you can approach Six Sigma in different ways training must start at the top with executives. The Web site stresses that when individuals become Black Belts, they can affect, "a company-wide culture shift geared toward breakthrough change and the pursuit of perfection."

The Knowledge Management Group embraces statistics as the bedrock of quality, in-depth Six Sigma training and as the key to consulting services that can be applied to any kind of business. The Web site boasts, "We implement strategies that identify, reduce, and eliminate waste from every product, process and transaction"

In addition, TKMG offers services that can be claimed as part of Revenue Canada's Scientific Research & Experimental Development tax incentive program known as SR&ED. The program encourages businesses to invest in research and development and offers tax refunds of up to 35 percent with the proper documentation.

John Noguera was mentored by Motorola's Six Sigma originator, Bill Smith, and co-developed the company's Next Generation Six Sigma Green Belt Program.

At J.G. Noguera and Associates, the instructional model is called KISS - Keep It Simple Statistically. Statistics are not an end but are a means to collect the information needed to make good decisions. Students are required to learn and demonstrate the use of a variety of Six Sigma tools and techniques.

Ketch Consulting provides Six Sigma Green Belt and Black Belt training, consulting and sales training in Canada and the United States with a focus on long-term solutions regardless of scale. The Web site says, "We can help you solve an isolated business problem or provide support for an enterprise level continuous improvement initiative. It's your business and it's your choice."

What makes the company unique is its emphasis on Six Sigma as a methodology that workers can apply in their daily lives as well in a business environment. And, Ketch strives to balance the intensity of the training with an engaging curriculum.

In addition to Six Sigma, Quality Solutions offers ISO, JIT and Kaizen training and consulting. The company uses the DMAIC process (define, measure, analyze, improve, control) for Six Sigma but within that framework will tailor both training and consulting services for its clients. Its Six Sigma training emphasizes hands-on applications and techniques.

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May 18, 2010

Pre Production Part Approval Process - PPAP

The pre-production part approval process (PPAP) is a new requirement being flowed down by many industrial customers to their component and process service suppliers. The Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) originated this requirement in the automobile industry in their original QS-9000, the automotive version of the ISO-9000 quality system.

While the QS-9000 system is now obsolete, replaced by the new ISO/TS 16949, the requirement for doing a PPAP remains. Other industries have grasped these concepts and this requirement is growing ever larger spanning many industries not previously concerned with such formalities. Many suppliers being suddenly required to comply with these new requirements are often baffled by the vast array of paperwork they suddenly have to confront. In truth the PPAP is not as dizzying as it might seem and in many ways offers substantial benefits to the company facing the preparation of one.

A PPAP is simply a series of analyses of various aspects of a production manufacturing process. Prior to beginning production, the supplier needs to prove out his processes and procedures, on actual production tooling. The PPAP is simply a way of reporting the results of this process testing to the customer so they know the supplier has the ability to fulfil the production at the quality level required by the customer. It also demonstrates the recovery techniques to be used in the event non-complying materials are discovered during the production run. This allows the supplier to approach a zero defect quality level in his shipments. The author has created such robust manufacturing systems and procedures to produce assemblies used in critical automotive applications that have maintained a zero defect level at production levels of multi millions of assemblies per year over spans of several years.

The PPAP begins with the quality-planning phase of the production. This starts with a Process Flow Diagram that outlines each step in the process from the time the raw materials arrive, until the completed parts are shipped out to the customer. Any event in the plant from the storage and moving steps, to the processes applied, to the inspections performed are identified and listed in this simple, sequential diagram. Any quality procedures or specific work instructions, if required, are identified in the steps where they may be needed.

From the Process Flow Diagram, a Process Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (PFMEA) is derived. This simply takes each of the production tasks and looks at what can go wrong, how severe the results will be if it goes wrong, and what can be done to minimize those risks.

Using the Process Flow Diagram and PFMEA, a Control Plan can drawn up that encompasses each phase of the production, how it will be controlled, and probably most importantly, how you will react in the event any out-of-compliance parts are discovered. It also lists the production equipment and tooling, the inspection tools, and other facilities needed to produce a zero defect part.

The control plan is the heart of the PPAP, and should be a document used extensively in your own shop when performing the production processes. Everyone who handles the part and has anything to do with the production should be familiar with this document, able to read it, and to recognize that it is the governing document in how the product is produced. In the event the customer audits your manufacture of processing, they will undoubtedly ask for the control plan and then ask to see each of its steps being performed.

To ensure that the inspection methods as identified on the control plan are repeatable and reproducible, an analysis of the gauges is performed. This is called a Gauge Repeatability and Reproducibility Analysis, or Gauge R&R for short. It requires three inspectors performing inspections of the characteristics that gauge will be used to inspect, on 10 parts three separate times. These results are inserted into a straightforward statistical formula and a numerical evaluation of the capability of that gauge is determined. This is repeated for each of the gauges measuring each of the characteristics identified on the control plan.

The next phase of the PPAP requires the manufacture of a sample number of parts on actual production tooling, using the same procedures, personnel, production facility, and all other aspects of the expected production run. This sampling is of some finite number, usually something like 300 pieces. These are then analyzed in several ways to ensure the production run meets all of the requirements the customer requests.

The first of these analyses is the layout inspection. Generally at least two parts from each different tooling cavity (in the case of a plastic injection molded part) or each assembly machine, each production line, oven or other piece of production machinery, is fully inspected with each characteristic identified and inspected. This is referred to as a layout inspection, and is generally accompanied with an annotated drawing identifying which characteristics were inspected.
Next a process potential study is performed where major characteristics on a certain number of these production parts, usually 30 or 50 are chosen and inspected. These are usually important fit and function characteristics. It may be an interface dimension, for instance in a machined part, or something like a plating thickness or other characteristic deemed important by the customer. When these results are plugged into a statistical formula, a good reading of the process' capability to produce consistent production is easily determined.

Doing a PPAP is not just a task in paperwork only useful for the customer, but rather a valuable tool usable by the supplier to help identify possible trouble spots in the production ahead. It gives the supplier a chance to formally think through how they can handle future problems that may arise in production. It gives supervisors and managers a simple road map to follow to perform their production tasks. It is also a valuable training tool for employees charged with making the production.

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May 17, 2010

Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) Basics

Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) or FMECA is an analysis technique which facilitates the identification of potential problems in a design or process by examining the effects of lower level failures. Recommended actions or compensating provisions are made to reduce the likelihood of the problem occurring, and mitigate the risk, if in fact, it does occur.

The FMEA team determines, by failure mode analysis, the effect of each failure and identifies single failure points that are critical. It may also rank each failure according to the criticality of a failure effect and its probability of occurring. FMECA is the result of two steps: 1) Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA), and 2) Criticality Analysis (CA). Or in other words, FMECA is just FMEA with Criticality Analysis.

There are many different types of FMEA. There are Conceptual or Functional FMEAs, Design FMEAs, and Process FMEAs. Sometimes during a Design FMEA the analysis will look at a combination of functions and hardware. Sometimes it will include just hardware, and sometimes the analyst will take a detailed look at the system down to a piece-part level, especially when critical functions or hardware are involved.

Why is FMEA or FMECA Important?

There are a number of reasons why this analysis technique is so valuable. Here are just a few:

1) FMEA provides a basis for identifying root failure causes and developing effective corrective actions.

2) The FMEA identifies reliability and safety critical components.

3) It facilitates investigation of alternatives at all stages of the design or process.

4) FMEA provides a foundation for maintainability, safety, testability, and logistics analyses.

When to conduct an FMEA

1- Early in the process improvement investigation
2- When new systems, products, and processes are being designed
3- When existing designs or processes are being changed
4- When carry-over designs are used in new applications
5- After system, product, or process functions are defined, but before specific hardware is selected or released to manufacturing

FMEA / FMECA Background and History

FMEA or FMECA is an offshoot of Military Procedure MIL-P-1629, titled Procedures for Performing a Failure Mode, Effects and Criticality Analysis, dated November 9, 1949. It was originally used as a reliability technique to determine the effect of system and equipment failures. Failures were classified according to their impact on mission success and personnel/equipment safety.

FMECA was further developed and applied by NASA in the 1960's to improve and verify reliability of space program hardware. The procedures called out in MIL-STD-1629A are probably the most widely accepted methods throughout the military and commercial industry, although SAE J1739 is a very prevalent FMEA standard used in the automotive industry.


This article just scratches the surface of FMEA. It is a valuable analysis technique, and has proven its worth time and time again throughout many industries. There are a number of good books and other resources where you can find out more about FMEA. Both large and small companies will benefit as they make FMEA an integral part of their quality programs.

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May 15, 2010

8D: Eight Dimensions

The 8d problem solving is about teams working together to resolve problems, using a structured 8 step process to help focus on facts not opinion. So far, so good! Let’s get into some more detail - the eight disciplines explained….

Discipline 1 – Build The Team
Assemble a small team of people with the right mix of skills, experience and authority to resolve the problem and implement solutions. Ensure these people have the time and inclination to work towards the common goal. Get your people “on board” by using team building tools such as ice-breakers and team activities.

Discipline 2 – Describe the Problem
How can you fix it if you don’t know what’s broken? The more clearly you describe the problem, the more likely you are to resolve it. Be specific and quantify the problem where possible. Clarify what, when, where and how much e.g. what is the impact to customers? Consider using checklists from professional 8d problem solving suppliers to stimulate and open up your thinking.

Discipline 3 – Implement a Temporary Fix
What “sticking plaster” can you use until you figure out what’s really causing the problem? Implement a temporary fix and monitor and measure the impact to ensure it’s not making things worse. Remember to keep going, as a sticking plaster will never cure a broken leg!

Discipline 4 – Eliminate Root Cause
There will be many suspects causing the problem, but usually only one culprit. The key is figuring out which one. This is where it can get a bit numerically challenging, as statistical tools are often used to get a deep understanding of what is going on in a process.

Discipline 5 – Verify Corrective Action
You know what’s causing the problem – how are you going to fix it? Test to make sure that your planned fixes have no undesirable side effects. If so, are there complementary fixes that eliminate side effects? If your solution just isn’t feasible, you can still change your mind before you move to the next “go live” stage.

Discipline 6 – Implement Permanent Fix
Go for it! Implement your permanent and complementary fixes and monitor to make sure it’s working. Usually you will get it right, but if not, go back a few steps and try again – the culprit is there to be caught!

Discipline 7 – Stop It Happening Again
If you’ve gone to all this trouble, you don’t what the problem to sneak up on you again! Prevent recurrence of the problem by updating everything related to the process e.g. specifications, training manuals, or “mistake proofing” the process.

Discipline 8 – Celebrate Success
Teamwork got you this far, so put on your collective party shoes and celebrate your success. Going public with success spreads knowledge and learning across your organisation, and let’s face it, we all like a little recognition now and again.
The 8d problem solving process is used by big businesses such as National Semiconductor, Shell and Toyota. The key is focusing on facts and not opinion, being disciplined enough to follow the process and remembering that a good team are worth more than the sum of the individuals. Do that, and you’ll save time, money and lift your employees.

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May 13, 2010

Total Productive Maintenance - TPM

It can be considered as the medical science of machines. Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is a maintenance program which involves a newly defined concept for maintaining plants and equipment. The goal of the TPM program is to markedly increase production while, at the same time, increasing employee morale and job satisfaction.

TPM brings maintenance into focus as a necessary and vitally important part of the business. It is no longer regarded as a non-profit activity. Down time for maintenance is scheduled as a part of the manufacturing day and, in some cases, as an integral part of the manufacturing process. The goal is to hold emergency and unscheduled maintenance to a minimum.

TPM - History:
TPM is a innovative Japanese concept. The origin of TPM can be traced back to 1951 when preventive maintenance was introduced in Japan. However the concept of preventive maintenance was taken from USA. Nippondenso was the first company to introduce plant wide preventive maintenance in 1960. Preventive maintenance is the concept wherein, operators produced goods using machines and the maintenance group was dedicated with work of maintaining those machines, however with the automation of Nippondenso, maintenance became a problem as more maintenance personnel were required. So the management decided that the routine maintenance of equipment would be carried out by the operators. ( This is Autonomous maintenance, one of the features of TPM ). Maintenance group took up only essential maintenance works.

Thus Nippondenso which already followed preventive maintenance also added Autonomous maintenance done by production operators. The maintenance crew went in the equipment modification for improving reliability. The modifications were made or incorporated in new equipment. This lead to maintenance prevention. Thus preventive maintenance along with Maintenance prevention and Maintainability Improvement gave birth to Productive maintenance. The aim of productive maintenance was to maximize plant and equipment effectiveness to achieve optimum life cycle cost of production equipment.

By then Nippon Denso had made quality circles, involving the employees participation. Thus all employees took part in implementing Productive maintenance. Based on these developments Nippondenso was awarded the distinguished plant prize for developing and implementing TPM, by the Japanese Institute of Plant Engineers ( JIPE ). Thus Nippondenso of the Toyota group became the first company to obtain the TPM certification.

TPM advantages
TPM was introduced to achieve the following objectives. The important ones are listed below.

1- Avoid wastage in a quickly changing economic environment.
2- Producing goods without reducing product quality.
3- Reduce cost.
4- Produce a low batch quantity at the earliest possible time.
5- Goods send to the customers must be non defective.

Similarities and differences between TQM and TPM :
The TPM program closely resembles the popular Total Quality Management (TQM) program. Many of the tools such as employee empowerment, benchmarking, documentation, etc. used in TQM are used to implement and optimize TPM.Following are the similarities between the two.

1- Total commitment to the program by upper level management is required in both programmes
2- Employees must be empowered to initiate corrective action, and
3- A long range outlook must be accepted as TPM may take a year or more to implement and is an on-going process. Changes in employee mind-set toward their job responsibilities must take place as well.

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May 12, 2010

Single Minute Exchange of Die - SMED

Changeover Time is the amount of time it takes to change over equipment/programs/ files/people from the end of the previous step to the beginning of the current step. Changeover time includes set up, warm up, trial run, adjustment, first item/work inspection, etc.

Examples include: Creating a new file for a new customer; Reviewing an existing file before seeing a client; Changing computer programs; and Searching your desk for the correct form.
External setup involves tasks that can be performed to prepare for changeover while the machine is still running.Internal setup involves tasks that can only be performed while the machine is turned off. Lean philosophy recommends that internal setup be facilitated by the use of tools and equipment that make the changeover processes fast and smooth.

Briefly, this methodology includes:

MEASURE the current changeover times and record them in order to monitor improvement.

SEPARATE EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL ACTIVITIES “External” activities are simply the jobs/work that can be carried out while the step or process is continuing (e.g. getting ready for the next customer while the service packet for the last customer is copying, etc.). “Internal” activities are those jobs which cannot be carried out while the step/process is going on (e.g. interviewing the customer while completing a service request packet on the prior customer). By identifying and separating internal and external activities, the intention is to do as much as possible while the step/process is continuing.

CONVERT INTERNAL TO EXTERNAL ACTIVITIES The next step is to try and convert some of the internal tasks into external tasks.

REDUCE THE TIME TO CARRY OUT INTERNAL TASKS Of the remaining internal tasks that cannot be converted to external tasks, efforts should be made to reduce the time taken to carry out them out -- to eliminate, modify, or streamline the changeover tasks. This can include re-design of the forms, protocols, and requirements. Consider tackling no- or low-cost reductions first, but keep in mind that you must not lose your focus on implementing the other reductions.

Techniques to reduce changeover time
You can use several techniques to reduce changeover time:
1- staged tooling and fixtures – this involves preparing parts or tools in advance so that while one part or tool is in the machine, the second can be set up in the fixture.
2- operations conducted in parallel – this technique involves having more than one operator perform a changeover so that the operators can perform their tasks simultaneously.
3- standardization – this involves having one set of tools that can be used to perform changeovers on all the machines, rather than a different set of tools for each machine.
4- quick attachments – this involves using parts and tools that have quick attachments to make changeovers more efficient.
5- assisted tool movement – this involves using simple tools to move machinery, rather than moving heavy equipment with forklifts or cranes.

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May 11, 2010

Quality Function Deployment (QFD)

QFD stands for Quality Function Deployment. Quality Function Deployment is a structured method in which customer requirements are translated into appropriate technical requirements for each stage of product development and production. The QFD process is often referred to as listening to the voice of the customer and is considered a tool of concurrent engineering.

Basically, QFD relates the customer requirements (product specifications) to the product design parameters in a mathematical manner. The result of this is a product design driven by math.
The advantages that would be realized through the use of QFD include a reduction in the time required for product design as well as a reduction is those costs associated with the process. This is possible because the design alternatives are realized much earlier in the process thus reducing the number of corrections and design errors. Also, a higher level of clarity for decision making is gained through the use of this tool.

The Process:
There is a structure to the use of QFD. Certain steps need to be followed in order to assure the proper outcome. A brief summary of each of the steps will aid in gaining a better understanding.
Since the customer’s input is the driving force here, Identify the customer’s requirements, listen to the “Voice of The Customer.” Be sure that the product design decisions are based on the customer and not on what is perceived as the customer’s needs. Refine the customer’s requirements to more specific points and determine how they can be accomplished. A chart may be helpful at this stage.

Once these decisions and relationships have been determined, a planning matrix can be constructed. The planning matrix determines how factors relate. The relations between the factors are analyzed to determine any design changes If, in general, there are more negative than positive effects, the process or product should be reconsidered. If too many changes need to be made, the customer’s requirements should be analyzed for accuracy.

The relationships between the “Whats” and the “Hows” are formed by assigning weights of 0-9, 9 being the strongest. The column sums give importance ratings. The result should be a few clearly important design features and a few that clearly are not.

The customer’s importance rating is compared to the calculated importance rating. Also, the competitors’ products are rated and ranked. Analysis of these factors will determine strengths and weaknesses among the consumers and compared to the competition. At this point, any technical deficiencies will surface as well.

A number of tools are used to determine the need for any changes. A new set of target values is developed from the previous analysis. A degree of difficulty is determined for the product and a cost versus quality assessment is made. Quality has a cost and a cost/benefit trade-off needs to be made. The decisions do not need to be follow the chart directly, however changes should not deviate too significantly.

For each control characteristic selected, a deployment matrix is developed. The deployment matrix is used to do design work, test the results, and compare them to the target values

This process is long and complex and will require a fairly-large amount of time. However, the end product will be much more competitive and cost far less than not using this method of concurrent engineering. Most likely, the product will also make it to market much faster.

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May 7, 2010

What is TS -16949: Technical Specification

This standard if for Automotive suppliers.ISO/TS 16949 harmonizes the supplier quality requirements of the U.S. Big Three (QS-9000, Third Edition) and French, German and Italian automakers.The goal was to create a single document and a single third-party registration that the European automakers and the U.S. Big Three would accept.

Framework QS9000 to TS 16949
4.1--Management responsibility: A number of additions to this element are clearly intended to focus suppliers' attention on continuous quality improvement. Suppliers must establish goals, objectives and measurements to develop their quality policies. Continuous improvement in quality, service, cost and technology must be covered in the quality policy. Quality-responsible personnel's authority to stop production is no longer a "note" or suggestion, as in QS-9000, but a requirement. All production shifts must be staffed with personnel responsible for quality. The management review requirement is expanded to include the "performance (of the QMS) over time as an essential part of the continuous improvement process." Evaluation of the cost of poor quality was a parenthetical note in QS-9000, but is a specific requirement of ISO/TS 16949. Suppliers must develop a process for motivating employees to achieve quality objectives and providing employees at all levels with "quality awareness." Customer experience with the supplier's product must be communicated in a timely manner. Finally, the "due care for product safety" requirement from QS-9000 has been expanded to minimize risks to employees, customers and the environment.

4.2--Quality system:
The term "product realization" is introduced to cover the entire process of designing, planning and delivering products that meet customer requirements. A requirement for a project manager and a project team is introduced. The modifying phrase "If a project management approach is used" suggests that this approach is preferred, if not actually required. Continuing to expand the project management concept, ISO/TS 16949 requires that a method be established for measuring the product-realization process against appropriate mileposts, with appropriate analysis and management review. The factors to be measured include quality, risks, costs and lead times. Process capability studies must be conducted on all new processes. Results for the capability studies must be used to establish requirements for production equipment where applicable. Inclusion of all special characteristics on control plans, although always implicit, is now explicitly required. ISO/TS 16949 also has a requirement for procedures on developing and verifying the product-realization process--perhaps one of the murkier requirements of the document. Detailed procedural requirements for process design inputs and outputs have been added, including a verification of the inputs vs. the outputs. The use of the "customer-recognized product approval process" (e.g., production part approval process [PPAP]) is mandated rather than recommended as in QS-9000, although General Motors has had a customer-specific requirement for subsupplier PPAP for some time. Additionally, when the customer so requires, special verification methods for new products must be implemented.

4.3--Contract review:
Suppliers must have a formal process for identifying cost elements and employ this process in the preparation of price quotations for new products.

4.4--Design control:
The requirement for skill qualifications of the supplier's design team is now a "shall" rather than a "should." Suppliers must have access to research and development to support product innovation. Analysis of competitive products is identified as one alternative source of input for the design process. For design changes, the impact on the customer's assembly operations is added to the factors that the supplier must consider for each change.

4.5--Document and data control:
There are no significant changes in this section.

Suppliers must encourage their subsuppliers to comply with ISO/TS 16949. However, there's no target date for compliance, nor is there an expectation of third-party registration for subsuppliers.

4.7--Control of customer-supplied products:
There are no significant changes in this section.

4.8--Product identification and traceability:
There are no significant changes in this section.

4.9--Process control:
The term "process monitoring and operator instructions" has been replaced with the simpler "job instructions," which "shall" rather than "should" be accessible at the job station without disruption. These job instructions shall be derived from "appropriate sources," including the control plan and the entire product-realization process. Significant process events shall be noted on control charts.

4.10--Inspection and testing:
Perhaps surprisingly, the incoming material requirements now allow the customer to waive the required control methods. Following the precedent of the Third Edition of QS-9000, requirements for internal laboratories are further strengthened. These laboratories, which include precision metrology and calibration as well as traditional laboratory functions, must now comply with ISO/IEC 17025, although third-party accreditation to that document is not required.

4.11--Control of inspection, measuring and test equipment:
Methods and criteria for measurement system analysis shall conform to customer reference manuals (e.g., the Big Three Measurement Systems Analysis manual).

4.12--Inspection and test status:
There are no significant changes in this section.

4.13--Control of nonconforming product:
Progress on corrective action plans shall be regularly reviewed. A requirement has been added for customer notification when nonconforming material has been shipped.

4.14--Corrective and preventive action:
There are no significant changes in this section.

4.15--Handling, storage, packaging, preservation and delivery:
The controls implemented for nonconforming product must also be used for obsolete product. If delivery will not happen according to schedule, the supplier must notify the carrier as well as the customer of the anticipated delivery problem.

4.16--Control of quality records:
The requirements for scheduling the supplier's production process have been defined in greater detail. There must be a scheduling process based on meeting the customers' requirements, such as just-in-time. The information technology must support access to production data at key production checkpoints.

4.17--Internal quality auditing:
Internal audits must be performed on all shifts and must include all activities affected by ISO/TS 16949 and all relevant customer requirements. Specifically, the internal audit must include an evaluation of the effectiveness of the product-realization and production process. A product audit has been included in 4.17 that includes the "final product" audit required in QS-9000 and expands it to include all specified requirements at appropriate points in the production and delivery process. Internal auditors must meet customer-established criteria.

Additions include requirements for on-the-job training for new or modified jobs affecting quality and for training on customer-specific requirements.

If the supplier provides post-sale servicing, the effectiveness of service centers, special equipment and personnel training must be re-evaluated.

4.20--Statistical techniques:
Appropriate statistical methods shall be determined during the planning process, and these methods shall be understood throughout the organization.

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May 4, 2010

EFQM Model

EFQM (European Foundation for Quality Management ) is a not for profit membership foundation founded in 1988. It is the primary source in Europe for organizations of all sizes and sectors, both private and public, looking to excel in their field and in their business. It works closely with similar organizations in the USA, Japan and other countries around the world. It is now the most widely used organizational framework in Europe and it has become the basis for the majority of national and regional quality awards.

strong>EFQM self-assessment process?
1- It is a comprehensive, systematic and regular review by an organization of its activities and results referenced against a model of excellence.
2- It allows an organization to discern clearly its strengths and areas in which improvements can be made and culminates in planned improvement actions that are monitored for progress.

The EFQM Excellence Model is a non-prescriptive framework based on 9 criteria. Five of these are 'Enablers' and four are 'Results'. The 'Enabler' criteria cover what an organisation does. The 'Results' criteria cover what an organisation achieves. 'Results' are caused by 'Enablers' and 'Enablers' are improved using feedback from 'Results'.

Leadership (10%)
1- Leaders develop the mission, vision and values and are role models of a culture of excellence
2- Leaders are personnally involved in ensuring the organisation’s management system is developed, implemented and continuously improved
3- Leaders are involved with customers, partners and representatives of society
4- Leaders motivate, support and recognise the organisations people

Policy and strategy (8%)
1- Policy and strategy are based on the present and future needs and expctations of stakeholders
2- Policy and strategy are based on information from performance measurement, research, learning ande creativity realated activities
3- Policy and strategy are developed, reviewed and updated
4- Policy and strategy are developed through a framework of key processes
5- Policy and strategy are communicated and implemented

People (9%)
1- People resources are palnned, managed and improved
2- People’s knowledge and competencies are identified, developed and sustained
3- People are involved and empowered
4- People and the organisation have a dialogue
5- People are rewarded, recognised ande cared for

Partnership and resources (9 %)
1- External partnerships are managed
2- Finances are managed
3- Buildings, equipment and materials are managed
4- Technology is managed
5- Information and knowledge are managed

Processes (14%)
1- Processes are systematically designed and managed
2- Processes are improved, as needed, using innovation in order to fully satisfy and generate increasing value for customers and other stakeholders
3- Products and services are designed and developed based on customer needs and expectations
4- Products and services are produced, delivered and serviced
5- Customer relationships are managed and enchanced

Customer results (20%)
1- Perception measures
2- Performance indicators

People results (9 %)
1- Perception measures
2- Performance indicators

Society results (6%)
1- Perception measures
2- Performance indicators

Key performance results (15%)
1- Key performance outcomes
2- Key performance indicators

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May 3, 2010


In lean manufacturing there are many techniques but now we will talk about taguchi methods (equation).In 1989, the Japanese engineer, Dr. Genichi Taguchi was awarded the prestigious Purple Ribbon by the emperor of Japan for his contribution to the development of industrial standards.

Taguchi, unlike other leading quality gurus, focuses more on the engineering aspects of quality rather than on management philosophy or statistics. He emphasises the importance of designing quality into products and processes rather than depending on inspection after manufacture. A distinctive feature of Taguchi's approach to quality lies in the application of statistical methods, not to quality control where they have already found wide application, but on improving products and processes (Naylor, 1996). He applied statistical methods in novel ways to:

1- Make products less sensitive to variations in their components and in the environment in which they are made.
2- Improve reliability.
3- Improve testing procedures.
Taguchi methods employ statistical techniques to evaluate the combined effects of environmental variations and manufacturing tolerances on the performance of the product. Dr. Taguchi is widely recognised for adding greatly to our understanding of the importance of properly designed engineering experiments in quality improvement and is therefore often considered the most important contributor to quality engineering concepts and methods.

Quality Loss Function
Traditional definitions of quality usually refer to the conformance of the product or service to requirements. Dr. Taguchi, however, defines quality as: “…..the loss a product causes to society after being shipped, other than any losses caused by its intrinsic functions.” Taguchi attempts to quantify this loss imparted to society by means of his Quality Loss Function (QLF). The QLF is a mathematical function used to calculate the loss to society in financial terms. Investigation of the QLF reveals that any deviation of the quality characteristic from its optimal value results in increased loss to society, whether or not the tolerance limit has been exceeded.
Taguchi proposed the Quality Loss Function to underline the need to aim close to the target (Naylor,1996). It estimates the total cost in the long run of poor quality resulting from a product moving away from exactly matching the target value. The cost covers all losses from the time the product is delivered, including those incurred during use and the consequent effects of failure.

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May 2, 2010

Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award

The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award is given by the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology.his is the only quality award that is actually awarded by the President of the United States. Awards are given in manufacturing, service, small business, education, health care, and nonprofits. In conjunction with the private sector, the National Institute of Standards and Technology designed and manages the award and the Baldrige National Quality Program.

The award winners are required to share (non-proprietary) information on successful performance strategies and actions, and benefits derived. Eligibility allows for two awards in each of three categories:

1- Manufacturing companies
2- Service companies
3- Small businesses
4- Education
5- Health Care

Hundreds of U.S. firms have experienced improved quality and business performance by using the Baldrige criteria as a model and performing self-assessments. Companies use either internal or external evaluators to review a report, which for all practical purposes is an application that follows the Baldrige guidelines/criteria.
The key to successful quality improvement implementation is that appropriate action is taken on all category/items that are highlighted as areas needing improvement.

The common practice in industry and government self-assessments is to do a Phase I evaluation, followed by a site visit. The following could be labeled the elements of the Baldrige Advanced Quality/Management System.

Award Criteria
As you can see, the criteria go across all segments of an enterprise - from Leadership to Business Results. In scoring the items the evaluator/examiner assesses the enterprises application (description of the quality/management system) based on three evaluation dimensions:

1- Approach
2- Deployment
3- Results
The guidelines indicate which category/items are evaluated for approach-deployment, and those evaluated for results.

1.0 Leadership 125
1.1 Organizational Leadership 85
1.2 Public Responsibility and Citizenship 40

2.0 Strategic Planning 85
2.1 Strategy Development 40
2.2 Strategy Deployment 45

3.0 Customer and Market Focus 85
3.1 Customer and Market Knowledge 40
3.2 Customer Satisfaction and Relationships 45

4.0 Information and Analysis 85
4.1 Measurement of Organizational Performance 40
4.2 Analysis of Organizational Performance 45

5.0 Human Resource Focus 85
5.1 Work Systems 35
5.2 Employee Education, Training, and Development 25
5.3 Employee Well Being and Satisfaction 25

6.0 Process Management 85
6.1 Product and Service Processes 55
6.2 Support Processes 15
6.3 Supplier and Partnering Processes 15

7.0 Business Results 450
7.1 Customer Focused Results 115
7.2 Financial and Market Results 115
7.3 Human Resource Results 80
7.4 Supplier and Partner Results 25
7.5 Organizational Effectiveness Results 115


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May 1, 2010

Lean Thinking In Healthcare

Definition Of Lean

Lean originated in manufacturing plants in Japan, but has soon spread around the globe and is relevant not just to private healthcare organisations, but increasingly to healthcare as well.

There are many differing definitions as to what lean actually is, but in essence, lean is about completely eliminating waste within an organisation or business and using less resources to actually do more.

Lean works by analysing any process and then determining its value by breaking the process up into ‘value added steps’ and ‘non-value added steps’. This is then further analysed, with each step that is a non-value added step being completely eradicated from the process. This leaves a process that is made up purely from value added steps, so the process itself is completely efficient.

In terms of lean this brings about a value stream, where everything is simply about value, but not necessarily value in monetary values, it can be about value to the end user.

Why Is Lean Relevant To Healthcare?

Although lean started off being used in the Japanese car industry, the principles of lean are actually very relevant to the healthcare sector. As patients of any healthcare system we all want a service that meets or exceeds our needs and for those that control it, runs at an appropriate cost, but there is often a good deal of waste within large organisations, whether private healthcare providers or in the public sector.

Saving money is very important to both private providers and the government run healthcare organizations. In the private sector, reduced costs means less costly procedures for patients and increased financial security, whereas within the government funded organizations such as the UK’s NHS resources have been subjected to being frozen or only raised by a small amount for year upon year, so saving money is seen as not just desirable, but essential.

A Wholesale Strategy

One of the very interesting aspects of lean thinking is that it has to be something that is applied throughout the whole of an organisation, or to use management ‘speak’ it has to be a roots and branch review.

Everyone who works for that organisation has to be committed to the process and they have to have an input to make it effective. This means that from senior management to cleaning staff, everyone, but everyone has to start thinking along ‘lean lines’. Within any healthcare organisation this is a challenge and can take time, but the strategy has to be wholly embraced for it to be effective.

Lean In Action

There are various ways that lean can actually transform a healthcare organisation. It can ensure that patient waiting times are reduced, through eliminating the reasons why patients have to wait, making sure that all necessary equipment is in place, ensuring that nursing staff have instant access to dressings and supplies that they need, through reducing the time that they have to spend looking for supplies etc. It is also very effective in ensuring that resources are spent appropriately through its integral emphasis on eliminating waste.

Due to the fact that it does need to be comprehensive throughout an organisation, it is not a quick fix solution and it can even take time to make the culture of a healthcare organisation receptive to the concept of lean.

But where lean has been used within a healthcare organisation the results have been quite dramatic and there is no reason why, with time, lean cannot radically transform patients’ experiences of using the healthcare services that are offered by both the private and government funded healthcare providers.

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