Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

Food safety standards are becoming increasingly stringent. Although government legislation has long been implemented, your customers may be driving an even higher standard of food safety through the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) or Safe Quality Food (SQF) Institute, which require third-party audits.

The GFSI is a global collaboration between leading food-safety experts from retail, manufacturing, and food-service companies, as well as service providers associated with the food supply chain. The initiative is coordinated by The Consumer Goods Forum, the only independent global network for consumer goods retailers and manufacturers worldwide. It serves the CEOs and senior management of nearly 400 members in more than 150 countries.

By: Bob Kill

Bob Kill is president and CEO of Enterprise Minnesota.

For manufacturers that watched their businesses decline as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) opted to transfer their supplier relationships to cheap-labor countries such as China and India, there is now solid evidence that those contracts are coming back home. Some solid advice to go with this: It will pay to get ready.

I’ve heard repeatedly from manufacturers that offshoring is quickly, even dramatically, losing its appeal for OEMs. Gone are the extraordinarily inexpensive costs of overseas labor paired with favorable exchange rates that made hiring foreign suppliers a no-brainer.

Sean Mowry, left, president of Metal Craft, talks about strategic opportunities with Bob Kill, president of Enterprise Minnesota

Other issues have cropped up for the offshoring OEM set as well: Product quality is sometimes suspect, intellectual property frequently lacks legal safeguards, and linguistic and cultural barriers often complicate training workers overseas. There are also frustrating lags in turnaround time.

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By: Xing-Fei He

Xing-Fei He is senior product manager at DALSA Corp.

Flawless brake operation is so essential to the safety of a vehicle that all brake systems have passed some type of safety testing before a driver ever gets behind the wheel. But how much better would you, as a driver, feel knowing that the raw brake discs of your motorcycle or minivan were inspected for any flaws even before brake assembly began? And from a manufacturing perspective, what if such an inspection yielded better quality while boosting profitability?

A custom-designed machine vision inspection system from Ibea GmbH, headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, uses cameras from DALSA to provide these benefits and more for automotive suppliers, manufacturers, and customers alike.

Putting the brakes on faulty parts

Manufacturers tend to rely on manual inspections to detect nonconformities on raw brake discs. Frequent shift changes and the subjective nature of these inspections lead to lower reliability and, subsequently, to increased manufacturing costs resulting from returns.

By: Rob Snoeijs

Rob Snoeijs is a freelance technical writer for LayerWise.

LayerWise, a company based in Leuven, Belgium, focuses on selective laser melting (SLM), a powerful technology that shapes any desired metal-part geometry by melting metal powder layer by layer. Using this digital approach, the optimum shape of complex circulation parts can be produced in a single manufacturing step. Such a part delivers better performance and is more reliable than the complicated assembly it replaces. Furthermore, SLM technology is the right choice for small metal products, of which thousands can be produced simultaneously. In addition to countless industrial applications, the company manufactures revolutionary orthopedic, maxillofacial, and dental implants.

By building up metal parts in layers, the most complex part shapes can be produced, including recesses, ribs, cavities, and internal features.


Kris De Sloovere and Walt Pastorius, Ph.D.’s default image

By: Kris De Sloovere and Walt Pastorius, Ph.D.

In 2008, wheel-alignment machine builder Burke E. Porter Europe NV (BEP) approached 3-D measurements specialists LMI Technologies Inc. for advice. At the time, BEP was developing plans to improve performance for end-of-line wheel alignment with its series of noncontact-alignment (NCA) machines. These measure toe and camber, displaying the results as guides for operators to make the necessary adjustments to bring vehicle parameters within the customer-specified values.

The issues

BEP realized that noncontact alignment needed higher precision, robustness, and a user-friendly plug-and-play interface. It recognized that the way to achieve these goals would be to start at the beginning with a radically new view on the measurement technology.

Existing sensor technologies based on single-laser line profiling had proven to be a dead end. An ambitious start toward capturing a full 3-D image of the wheel had been carried through to a prototype stage when LMI Technologies was contacted.

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By: The QA Pharm

My definition of “specification” is rather simple: It’s a promise.

Just like any other promise, you’d better be sincere when you make it and be able to keep it. Failure to keep a promise brings disappointment. Frequent failure leads to distrust. And consciously breaking a promise is nothing less than deceitful.

Just as in our personal lives, the pharmaceutical industry makes a promise to its health care professionals and patients every time it establishes a product specification.

Whether it is a raw material or component from a supplier, in-process material, or final product, a specification is the industry’s promise to provide a product that possesses the attributes known to make it work.

Anything outside of the specification range is either unknown, because it has not been studied, or known to have some probability of a negative effect. Neither is acceptable.

The same could be said for process control ranges. Although they are applied to the manufacturing process and facilities, they nonetheless are “promises” based on a scientific field of study with respect to product quality.

Thus it seems to be particularly egregious when specifications and process controls are capriciously established or changed.

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By: Minitab LLC

Gold'n Plump Poultry provides chicken products to stores, delicatessens, and restaurants in 40 states. Commitment to process excellence has helped the company thrive even in tough times, and Minitab Statistical Software has provided the powerful tools they needed to analyze quality data. But the company's many improvement projects were being performed at multiple locations, using a variety of tools. That made it hard for management to assess the total benefit of their efforts. Now, using Quality Companion software, Gold'n Plump teams rely on one application to manage projects from start to finish.

The challenge

Based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Gold'n Plump has become the upper Midwest's largest fully integrated broiler chicken producer. This family-owned business also seeks to become the benchmark of manufacturing excellence for the poultry industry. To meet that goal, Gold'n Plump integrates two quality improvement strategies: Six Sigma to address process quality, eliminate defects, and reduce product variation; and lean to boost process speed and flow and eliminate waste. Gold'n Plump's commitment yields real dividends—in 2009, it achieved $5.2 million in companywide savings from improvement projects.

100 Customer Service Tips by Larry Williams’s picture

By: 100 Customer Service Tips by Larry Williams

If you think your time spent outside the workplace is devoid of circumstances that can affect your job, you’re mistaken. There are many factors outside of work that can be detrimental to your employment. The following tips will help you avoid leaving a trail of breadcrumbs that will lead right back to your employer’s door.

Drive responsibly

Does the way you drive affect your job performance? After all, it is part of your job performance. When you are behind the wheel of a company vehicle, you are not on a break. Your judgment and road etiquette, while you are at work, can reflect well or badly on your company and, therefore, on your employment.

If you find yourself on the road for business—especially when you are driving a company vehicle—recognize that your behavior on the road is more visible than your behavior in a stationary location. Consider how many people can see you when you are in your vehicle.

“Rules of the road” are a common denominator in all businesses. Nearly all employers consider them to be as important as their other policies and procedures. If you drive as part of your job responsibilities, remember that your employer should never have to tell you to pay attention to speed limits and drive responsibly.

Jennifer Robison’s picture

By: Jennifer Robison

They might not know who you are. But they can make you fat or thin, they can make you smoke or quit, they can make you happy or sad—and they don’t even mean to. They do know the people that you know—and that’s how your network of friends, their friends, and their friends’ friends influence you. And rest assured, you’re doing the same thing to them.

This process, called social contagion, was made famous in the widely discussed book Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives (Little, Brown and Co., 2009) by medical doctor and Harvard professor Dr. Nicholas Christakis, Ph.D., and James Fowler, Ph.D., a professor at the University of California, San Diego. Social contagion works like any other kind of contagion—through transmission from one person to another. Instead of germs, however, social contagion transmits behaviors, norms, and emotions.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

Blount is a discrete manufacturer specializing in chain-saw components. At their plant in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, the company operates a 1,200-machine facility and serves a global market. Manufacturing executives were looking for a performance management solution to support the company’s lean initiatives and needed to find a means to improve production reporting accuracy, reliability, and frequency.

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