ANDREA LAHOUZE’s default image

By: ANDREA LAHOUZE

“It’s a messy world,” says Dusty Gibbs while walking past piles of copper wiring and kitchen sinks in the warehouse of Kirschbaum & Krupp (K&K) Metal Recycling LLC. “But this is about as clean and organized as it gets.”

Gibbs would know. As the new co-owner of K&K—and a longtime co-owner of Residual Materials, another scrap metal recycling operation in Grand Forks, North Dakota—he has been in the metal recycling business for more than 30 years. He purchased K&K in 2006 with Mitch, his brother, and Henry Wang, a business partner in China. In an effort to improve K&K and drive industry standards into the 21st century, they have spent the better part of two years making the company as lean—and green—as possible.

It seems to be working. One year after purchasing the business, the owners saw revenues balloon from $48.4 million in 2006 to $83.6 million in 2007. Current sales are as much as five million pounds of metal a month, and the company saves about 55 million pounds of nonferrous metals from landfills every year.

Forrest Breyfogle—New Paradigms’s picture

By: Forrest Breyfogle—New Paradigms

Why did the current financial crisis occur? Among other things, we could point to greed, ethics, and policy creation. However, could we also consider commonplace business management systems and their metric-creation practices as a source for encouraging and amplifying these and other unhealthy behaviors?

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Before answering this question, consider another aspect of the issue: Do you think that the cliché “Tell me how you measure me and I will tell you how I will behave” describes a stimulus that could have contributed to the destructive behaviors that led to our economic problems of the day? I believe that many current business system metrics and resulting actions to achieve measurement goals did contribute to our current economic problems.

Greg Hutchins’s picture

By: Greg Hutchins

One week in May, I spoke on “Risk in the Supply Chain and Other Changes” at the World Conference on Quality and Improvement (WCQI), the Macon, Georgia, ASQ section, and the Atlanta, Georgia, ASQ section.

My message was that many business rules and assumptions have changed radically since September 2008, especially those in supply management. I would almost say that most business rules have been “reset.” Harvard Business Review says that we need to understand and live with the new “normal.”

The new “normal” in supply management

Let’s look at some of the changes. We are moving from global stability to global uncertainty. We can see this everywhere we look, with the increasing unemployment rate, financial crises, and global warming. We are moving from safe trade to pirated trade. Who would have thought that we’d have Somali, Philippine, and Southeast Asian pirates, who disrupt global trade and add risk to the supply chain.

GHSP’s picture

By: GHSP

The story of how one Michigan-based automotive supplier, GHSP, embraced the quality circle process and very quickly earned a spot as a leader from one of the most demanding customers in the business 

There’s still a little surprise in Beth Koch’s voice when she talks about the Honda of America Manufacturing’s Fall 2008 Supplier Quality Circle Competition.

“We were very proud of what we had been able to do for our company,” says Koch, a quality facilitator at GHSP’s Hart, Michigan plant. “But we were very shocked when we won. Very shocked.”

She wasn’t the only one who was surprised. GHSP, a supplier of mechatronics to the global surface transportation industry, in its first appearance at the fall event, stormed in and swept the competition away, winning first place in the two main categories—problem solving and project circle—as well as first place for the best display board. It was the first time a supplier had won both categories at the competition, which was attended that year by as many as 100 suppliers to Honda and 600 people.

Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest’s picture

By: Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest

All the talk of health care reform has resulted in many hospitals turning to lean Six Sigma to help improve efficiency and aid in cost cutting. However, health care efficiency expert Ron Wince contends that many of these facilities are not applying the tools properly and therefore will not reap the ultimate benefits. Wince is the CEO of Guidon Performance Solutions and works with hospitals across the country helping them to improve efficiency and quality while reducing costs.

In this interview with Wince we explore the growth of the lean, Six Sigma, and similar programs in the health care industry, and how well those programs have been implemented.
  

Quality Digest: We have seen a lot of interest in hospitals and other health care facilities in implementing lean, Six Sigma, and the like. Do you see this trend continuing at the same rate, increasing, decreasing?

Michael S. Flynn and Robert E. Cole’s default image

By: Michael S. Flynn and Robert E. Cole

For some time, auto experts have reported that objective quality differences have all but disappeared across most automotive brands. Indeed, the Detroit Three automakers have eliminated or substantially reduced large differences in defect rates after 90 days of ownership—no small achievement.

Yet, surveys continue to show that consumers consider quality an important factor in deciding which vehicle to purchase—and still give the nod to the Japanese and some other foreign automakers because of the power of past quality perceptions.

We are left with an intriguing question: Why has it taken Detroit more than a quarter of a century to close the gap? If we are skeptical about the latest claims, exploring the reasons for Detroit’s long road to quality parity may shed some light on the remaining challenges Detroit faces. It can’t afford to repeat its quality mistakes.

When the Detroit automakers did demonstrate bursts of dedication to quality improvement, these periods were followed by relapses and shifting priorities.

Kimberly Douglas’s picture

By: Kimberly Douglas

If your team members (or you) hear “Meeting at 3:00” and think, “Here comes another waste of my time,” then it’s time for a meeting overhaul at your organization. While meetings can be important team-building and idea-generating opportunities for your employees, the key is knowing how to do them the right way.

It’s Friday afternoon, and your team is filing into the conference room, mumbling and grumbling as they take their seats for yet another meeting. An hour passes and the meeting comes to a much anticipated end, leaving everyone involved wondering why the meeting was held in the first place. After all, the usual suspects dominated the discussion, and the same ideas that came up in last week’s meeting were once again batted around. No one seemed to write anything down, and no one agreed to put anything discussed into action. If this kind of ineffective meeting sounds familiar, you’re not alone. It’s a problem that plagues many organizations—but it’s also one, she adds, that can be remedied.

William Scherkenbach and Mitchell White’s default image

By: William Scherkenbach and Mitchell White

While I have been saying this for decades, and while K’ung Fu-tzu implied it millennia ago when he called for a balance of knowledge and action, it takes a while to sink in. W. Edwards Deming showed how simply taking a pencil with paper and plotting the data makes action possible. Experts in data analysis and statistics, such as John Tukey, made exploring data fun and graphic. Donald J. Wheeler and John M. Chambers have taken data analysis to the next level. It is a moronically simple concept… but is hardly practiced anywhere.

I have made numerous trips to China where I helped some first tier and second tier electronic suppliers improve their processes, and thus their products. In fact, there is so much to do that I moved to Taiwan last year. All of the charts that I will show in this article were plotted from tables of data dutifully documented on paper or stored in a computer database. None of the data were plotted before I liberated them for action with a simple graph.

Patrick Lanthier’s picture

By: Patrick Lanthier

There are several challenges that can arise when you start the process of measuring micro and meso scale parts. Some important factors to consider before you begin the actual part measuring are: part handling, cleaning, and fixturing. Using a coordinate measuring machine (CMM) allows you to accurately measure extremely tiny parts using touch (tactile) and optical techniques. Carefully following certain steps before you begin the measuring process will help ensure you receive the best possible results upon completion.

Part handling

Unless you have inadvertently dropped a micro or meso part on the carpet, you may not truly appreciate the extremely small scale and accuracy needed to correctly measure them. To use a common analogy; dropping one of these parts could be like “looking for a needle in a haystack” since the size of these parts range from uncomfortably small to nearly impossible to physically handle with your own hand.

David C. Crosby’s picture

By: David C. Crosby

Y

ears ago, when I was a field quality rep (source inspector), part of my job was to audit prospective suppliers. The basis of the audits was MIL-Q-9858A, the military quality system. Most audits were simply me sitting across the desk from the head guy or gal asking questions. Do you do this? Do you do that? Of course the answers were always correct.

After the audit, I would tour the facility to get an idea if the person was telling the truth. The tour was actually more effective than the sit-down question and answer period. I became very good at judging the quality of the work we could expect just by looking around. I called it Audit by Looking Around (ABLA). You can actually say ABLA. It has kind of a Latin ring to it. I became very skilled at ABLA and to this day I can spot an outdated calibration sticker at 20 yards. I also discovered that you can learn a lot about a supplier by peeking into the dumpster. One other trick: When visiting a supplier, watch what people are carrying around. It’s probably the problem of the day.

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