Quality Digest’s picture

By: Quality Digest

I recently got a call from the owner of a local manufacturing company asking my advice on whether to implement SAP.  This is a single-site, $5 million operation with one nice, big, contiguous manufacturing floor, making rather uncomplicated widgets that have a raw material lead time of a couple days and a manufacturing cycle time of a couple of hours.  The next sound he heard was the bam-bam-bam of my head banging against the wall.He obviously hadn’t read my post on the False God of the Almighty Algorithm or he could’ve guessed my opinion.

Of course, SAP is not designed for companies of that size, and the cheapest implementation I’ve heard of is in the $500,000 range.  The same can be said for almost all enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.  Some form of system may be needed for large multisite or complex operations, but they’re often not appropriate for smaller companies, and they’re almost always overly relied upon at larger ones.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

Customer relationship management (CRM) usually refers to sales activities, and CRM software is commonly purchased, and occasionally used, to track potential customers, existing customers and sales activities.

“Contract manufacturing is unquestionably a relationship business. CRM must manage the relationship bringing maximum value to both parties; CRM is and has been key to successful long-term partnerships. Customers rely on their contract manufacturer for the core of their business, and quality validation, corroboration, open communications and the supplier-customer relationship are critical for success,” says Larry Caretsky of Commence Corp.

According to ISO 9001, manufacturing companies seeking a product definition or answers to service and marketing questions must get such information from their customers. The ISO standard requires companies to establish processes for identifying customer requirements and communicating those requirements throughout their organization, as well as processes for tracking and analyzing customer satisfaction. The standard has direct application for CRM, particularly for contract manufacturers.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

Customer relationship management (CRM) usually refers to sales activities, and CRM software is commonly purchased, and occasionally used, to track potential customers, existing customers and sales activities.

“Contract manufacturing is unquestionably a relationship business. CRM must manage the relationship bringing maximum value to both parties; CRM is and has been key to successful long-term partnerships. Customers rely on their contract manufacturer for the core of their business, and quality validation, corroboration, open communications and the supplier-customer relationship are critical for success,” says Larry Caretsky of Commence Corp.

According to ISO 9001, manufacturing companies seeking a product definition or answers to service and marketing questions must get such information from their customers. The ISO standard requires companies to establish processes for identifying customer requirements and communicating those requirements throughout their organization, as well as processes for tracking and analyzing customer satisfaction. The standard has direct application for CRM, particularly for contract manufacturers.

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, and 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 an interesting lesson: Don’t fail to strategize. The scenario is described by the people who actually lived it.

—J. T. Ryan, president

Peter Tzaklev’s default image

By: Peter Tzaklev

The quality level of Bulgarian companies is far from the six sigma level, but so far they have been satisfying requirements. Many manufacturing firms in Bulgaria are registered to ISO 9001, especially those that are working for foreign customers in a sort of outsourcing.

Every year, quality improves because requirements increase, but this improvement is not by 10 percent, as H. James Harrington recommends in the article “Managing Quality in a Global Economy,” by Amy Zuckerman, published in the March 2005 issue of Quality Digest magazine. A lot of Bulgarian firms are deep in financial and marketing crises, and the only way for them to save themselves is to manufacture cheaper goods with higher quality.

The cheapest goods in the world are made in China, and we can not compete with them. But as for quality, we are certainly competitive. Why do I think so? Because we have a surplus of highly educated and skilled specialists and workers. Our manufacturing facilities in Bulgaria are not bad. We are currently open to the whole world, and we know we can manufacture a lot of things, just as do the Germans, French, English, Italians and others.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

Food quality and safety are priorities for consumers, and from Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) to the Bioterrorism Act to lot traceability, food manufacturers are responding. Reputations and brands are at risk when safety concerns and product recalls are front-page news. There are many recent examples from spinach to pet food; the cost of low quality can be brand-killing.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

Food quality and safety are priorities for consumers, and from Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) to the Bioterrorism Act to lot traceability, food manufacturers are responding. Reputations and brands are at risk when safety concerns and product recalls are front-page news. There are many recent examples from spinach to pet food; the cost of low quality can be brand-killing.

As the Jewish population continues to decrease, kosher foods are migrating into the mainstream. According to a recent Mintel report on kosher foods, more than 55 percent of respondents who buy them feel that kosher products meet a higher standard of safety and health than nonkosher items.

Although different religious practices guide the diets of Jews and Muslims, the high-quality standards applied to kosher and halal foods are remarkably similar.

Craig Cochran’s picture

By: Craig Cochran

A few years go 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, and 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 an interesting lesson: Auditing against opinions. The scenario is described by the people who actually lived it.

Michel Podevyn’s default image

By: Michel Podevyn

In the old days at Soliant LLC in Lancaster, South Carolina, employees pushed 275-lb drums filled with acrylic resin powder to a scale for weighing and adding to a mix. Once the powder was weighed out, two employees manually scooped 1.5 lb at a time from the drums to the mixing vessel, the beginning stage of the process.The scale was used to ensure that only the amount of powder specified in the mixing process for that particular paint be added to the mixing vessel. In the vessel, the powder was stirred into a mixture about the thickness of mayonnaise.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

More than 13 hours per week creating documents and nearly seven hours per week organizing documents are common among small and midsize engineer-to-order (ETO) manufacturers; four hours per week are spent managing document routing and another 10 hours per week searching for information. All this time searching for documents is waste and counter to lean initiatives and established efficiency metrics. According to Ricardo Talbot, chief science officer for Elmo Solutions, “The biggest distinction in effective search tools that create and manage engineering documents is the capability to index, retrieve and display a wide range of CAD [computer-aided design] and imaging documents from AutoCAD, other Autodesk-flavored applications, Autodesk Inventor and SolidWorks.”

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