Craig Cochran’s picture

By: Craig Cochran

Last year I had the good fortune of doing some consulting with B&C Specialty Products in Hopeulikit, Georgia. B&C does light manufacturing, primarily plastic molding and assembly, and they also distribute imported products produced by companies in the Far East. They have about 150 employees and are the biggest employer by far in Hopeulikit.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

The tagline to the 1989 film "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" was “The Enterprise is back. This time, have they gone too far?”

With up to 10 years of continued process improvements on the plant floor, and in back office and distribution operations, manufacturers have finally arrived at the front door of customer relationship management (CRM). Many senior manufacturing engineering and operations executives are strongly resistant and assert that lean CRM is the final frontier in the lean enterprise process. Now that the quick gains have been achieved from eliminating waste in the rest of the manufacturing enterprise, the areas most neglected—customer service, sales and marketing—are front and center.

Achieving bottom-line benefits from the implementation of many of the CRM technology solutions that provide “electronic” connections and profound data analysis and reporting capabilities is only part of the quality equation. There are systematic processes designed to achieve significant CRM benefits including:

Bill Kalmar’s picture

By: Bill Kalmar

Rather than travel to Pamplona, Spain, for the annual Running of the Bulls, one need go no further than the parking lots of many U.S. companies. Here people described in many company brochures as “our most important asset" are being herded and unceremoniously told to go home after years of service. The psychic goring of these employees often has already been done by an inept management team, and for some the wounds will last forever. There’s a remarkable, and bizarre, parallel between Pamplona and corporate America: long ago potential buyers of the bulls always ran ahead in order to be well placed for the purchase that followed the event. In corporate settings, management stays behind in the shadows, not wanting to confront the victims as they’re led to their "psychological slaughter."

Douglas C. Fair’s picture

By: Douglas C. Fair

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

The key to quality throughput within a warehouse, especially in a high-speed/high-volume environment, is the ability to move a carton into and out of a pick zone expeditiously.

When a warehouse control system (WCS) doesn’t process the information to divert products quickly enough, it causes cartons to be recirculated on the conveyor. This diminishes effectiveness, efficiency and quality control. Software must allow for consistent high-quality throughput, eliminating recirculation with effective communication between the WCS and the programmable logic controllers (PLC).

To achieve quality order fulfillment, the cartonization algorithm of a WCS selects the correct-sized carton for an order before the pick-and-pack process begins. The elimination of repacking is a central component in quality distribution: When the number of “touches” of the product is drastically reduced, quality control becomes lean and quantifiable.

Implementing a WCS with cartonization and zone skipping reduces the number of touches because of:

Craig Cochran’s picture

By: Craig Cochran

Last year I had the good fortune of doing some consulting with B&C Specialty Products in Hopeulikit, Georgia. B&C does light manufacturing, primarily plastic molding and assembly, and they also distribute imported products produced by companies in the Far East. They have about 150 employees and are the biggest employer by far in Hopeulikit.

B&C was a perfect place to learn about managing and quality. Every day presented a new lesson. Usually the lessons were hard-learned, but those are the ones that really stick with you. B&C was gracious enough to allow me to interview their personnel about things that came up during my time there. Here is one of those lessons: Establish a dialogue between your employees and your customers. The scenario is described by the people who actually lived it.

Bill Kalmar’s picture

By: Bill Kalmar

Being retired affords one the opportunity to relax periodically in a hammock on a hot summer afternoon, doing a crossword puzzle and contemplating quality and customer service. While trying to think of an eight-letter term for "a person used as cover," my thoughts wandered to several topics:

  • Commercials, billboards, Web sites and newspaper ads for organizations seem to gravitate to the same term—"world-class." I have become immune to the term, because I don’t understand what it means anymore. How does a "world-class Greek restaurant" differ from a "world-class automobile" or "Geno’s World-Class Dry Cleaners" on my corner? Hasn’t this phrase worn out its use? Many products and services seem to rely on that cliché whether it’s justified or not.
  • Ajith Kumar’s default image

    By: Ajith Kumar

    The concept of total quality management (TQM) rose to prominence more than two decades ago. There were many reasons for it, the most important one being the European Union’s move to allow imports only from companies with ISO-standards certification. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) rose rapidly from anonymity to become a household name in the corporate world. All types of business and organizations started seeking certification of their goods and services to keep up their exports. Unill then, "quality" was at best a desirable attribute and only Japanese companies paid any attention to it as a policy. The rush for ISO-standards certification changed all that. Many good changes resulted from it, but many more unwanted tendencies surfaced. Two decades later it may be a useful exercise to review the issue. Did ISO-standards certification bring about any desirable change? Is it necessary to continue with it in its present form? TQM is tottering, and drastic steps by ISO are required if the good effects of the quality movement are to survive.

    Alex Eksir’s default image

    By: Alex Eksir

    We’ve all heard about how calamitously insufficient a quality standard of 99 percent would be:

    • One percent of airplanes crashing on take-off would mean nearly 200 domestic commercial airline crashes each day.
    • One percent of erroneously filled prescriptions would mean about 35 million incorrect medications dispensed in the United States every year.
    • One percent of newborns dropped in obstetrics wards would mean… Well, you get the point.

    Familiar stuff, right? So familiar, in fact, that the examples above have pretty much stopped doing the useful work they once did to shock us out of a sense of complacency. I don’t mean to sound cold or callous, but nowadays when I hear statistics like those, my reaction is less “Wow!” and more “Yeah? So?”

    Here’s an example that gets my attention, and it’s real. I heard it directly from a corporal in the U.S. Army. He said, “If the system doesn’t work, the mission fails. My buddies die. I die.”

    Craig Cochran’s picture

    By: Craig Cochran

    Last year I had the good fortune of doing some consulting with B&C Specialty Products in Hopeulikit, Georgia. B&C does light manufacturing, primarily plastic molding and assembly, and they also distribute imported products produced by companies in the Far East. They have about 150 employees and are the biggest employer by far in Hopeulikit. B&C was a perfect place to learn about managing and quality. Every day presented a new lesson. Usually the lessons were hard-learned, but those are the ones that really stick with you. B&C was gracious enough to allow me to interview their personnel about things that came up during my time there. Here’s an interesting lesson: Manage by process instead of departments. The scenario is described by the people who actually lived it.

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