Nicolette Dalpino and Carey Wilson  |  08/30/2008

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News Digest

Short on News

The majority (52%) of 60 United States-based industrial manufacturing executives surveyed by PriceWaterhouseCoopers are now pessimistic about the U.S. economy, and 36 percent remain uncertain.



At restaurants in the five-star Shangri-La Hotel in Dubai, beef patties served anything less than well-done now come with an unusual side dish--a legal waiver.


Potentially preventable medical errors that occur during or after surgery may cost employers nearly $1.5 billion a year, according to new estimates by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).


CSPI, the nonprofit nutrition and food-safety watchdog group, is calling on state and local governments to require restaurants to display food safety letter grades in their front windows.


CMSC 2008 Conference a Success

The Coordinate Metrology Systems Conference (CMSC), recently held in Charlotte-Concord, North Carolina, exceeded expectations with a record attendance of nearly 600, representing a wide range of industries that require close-tolerance 3-D coordinate data. This annual event is hosted by the Coordinate Metrology Society, and featured presentations on the use of portable metrology in remote areas of Mongolia, uses by worldwide research centers, and the integration of various techniques and technologies to produce leading-edge products and services.

The CMSC included 86 exhibitor booths and attracted visitors from 15 countries from industries such as aerospace, space hardware, antenna, automotive, shipbuilding, power generation, and general engineering. Participation from higher education institutions also grew this year with teachers and professors visiting from the University of North Carolina, the University of Michigan, Texas A&M University, the University of Zaragoza ( Zaragoza, Spain), Geodetic Institute, Universität Karlsruhe ( Karlsruhe, Germany) and Max-Planck-Institute für Plasmaphysik ( Greifswald, Germany).

The show also attracted a large number of professionals from prominent institutions such as Brookhaven National Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Southwest Research Institute, Smithsonian Institution, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Canadian Space Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and National Institute for Standards Technology.

Founded in 1984, the Coordinate Metrology Society is a membership of users, services, and original equipment manufacturers of close-tolerance, industrial coordinate measurement systems, software, and peripherals. These metrology systems include traditional coordinate measuring machines, theodolites, laser projection systems, laser trackers, laser radar, photogrammetry/videogrammetry systems, scanning devices, articulating arms, and more.

The Coordinate Metrology Society is devoted to expanding and promoting the use of mobile metrology systems. The membership assembles each year to learn about the latest in-use advancements and new product developments in measurement software or systems that produce, utilize, and analyze 3-D coordinate data.

For further information, visit


WCBF’s Six Sigma CEO of the Year

The Global Six Sigma & Business Improvement Awards, organized by WCBF, has announced that Mark Pigott, chairman and CEO of Bellevue, Washington-based PACCAR ( has been named the winner of its prestigious Six Sigma & Business Improvement CEO of the Year Award. PACCAR is a global technology leader in the design, manufacture, and support of high-quality light-, medium-, and heavy-duty trucks under the Kenworth, Peterbilt, and DAF nameplates.

Six Sigma has played a major role in PACCAR’s worldwide growth and profitability since 1997. Revenues increased from $6.5 billion in 1997 to $15.2 billion in 2007. 12,000 employees, as well as dealers and suppliers, are trained to use Six Sigma to evaluate engineering design, assembly procedures, sales ordering, and financial transactions. Since 1997, PACCAR has implemented more than 7,600 Six Sigma projects delivering more than $1.5 billion in cumulative savings.

One of the most successful and innovative Six Sigma initiatives at PACCAR is the High Impact Kaizen Event (HIKE). HIKEs combine the power of lean and Six Sigma to make significant improvements across multiple functions of an operation in just four weeks. HIKEs have been successfully deployed throughout all PACCAR locations and businesses, many supplier facilities, and customer sites.

“PACCAR and its customers have benefited from Six Sigma and HIKE initiatives, which have delivered world-class product quality, efficiency improvements, and innovative customer service programs,” says Pigott. “Since the establishment of Six Sigma, the company has achieved improved operating efficiencies in its manufacturing facilities of 5 to 7 percent per year. Six Sigma has also contributed toward improving logistics performance and the quality of components delivered by the company’s suppliers.”

For further information, visit


Do the Math

In last month’s “Do the Math,” we directed you to a great error (ironically speaking) found in our own pages. In Jim Harrington’s column in the June 2008 issue, he wrote: “The average cost for a Six Sigma project is equal to the cost of eight people working two days a week for 13 weeks. At an average hourly cost of $65 per person, that is equal to 2 × 13 × 8 × $65 = $13,520…”

Oops. This one slid past all the editors, and almost all readers. Naturally, one reader, Andrew Clifton, just had to bring it to our attention, we being a quality publication, and all. So, as punishment, we are sending Andrew a prize from . That should teach him to not look too closely at our pages.

What’s missing, of course, is that 2 × 13 × 8 gives you the number of days worked. That needs to be multiplied by eight to give you the number of hours. Once you do that, the cost becomes $108,160. I remember looking at this and I know exactly why I missed it. I saw the “8” in the equation and said to myself, “Good, he multiplied the days by eight to get hours.” But I didn’t bother to recheck the entire equation.

This month’s prize winner is Andy O’Neill. Andy wins a prize from for spotting the error, which even he missed the first time. “I confess I read this article when it came out and missed the mistake entirely,” says O’Neill. Glad we drew your attention to it, Andy.

Next month’s puzzle
This “Do the Math” puzzle was submitted by Sarah Seaman, who received the following e-mail advertisement that I have posted to our web site at the following location: . I’ve stripped out the company name. This one is easy, and very funny.

Spot the error and send your response to . You may win a prize.


Measuring Metrics

In a collection of four books, author Forrest W. Breyfogle III, CEO and president of Smarter Solutions Inc., documents how to use the Integrated Enterprise Excellence System (IEE) to surpass the limitations of lean Six Sigma and the balanced scorecard.

The first book in the series, The Integrated Enterprise Excellence System: An Enhanced, Unified Approach to Balanced Scorecards, Strategic Planning, and Business Improvement (Bridgeway Books, 2008), describes methods for establishing and monitoring metrics, generating organic growth, stimulating creativity, and safeguarding reinvestment. Checks and balances remain stable regardless of management continuity, changes in competitive conditions, or the economic climate.

Topics discussed include:

How to avoid metrics overload

Using metrics to encourage behaviors that contribute to the bottom line

Questioning the use of easy-to-meet metrics that make performance appear more productive than it is

Metrics that actually detract from productivity

The shortcomings of selecting and training employees as lean Black Belts based only on their technical skills

Distinguishing between common cause (i.e., errors due to a systemic problem) and special cause (i.e., errors due to a glitch)


For further information, visit


Be Prepared

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has named the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) to operate a new program to accredit and certify private-sector entities for disaster preparedness. Under the “Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007” (Public Law 110-53), the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is directed to establish a program to accredit and certify private-sector entities regarding their implementation of voluntary consensus standards for preparedness.

The ANAB program will allow these organizations to demonstrate their compliance with yet-to-be-determined voluntary preparedness and business continuity standards and requirements.

“This program recognizes the importance of upfront planning to ensure business continuity even when calamitous events occur,” says Connie Conboy, chair of ANAB’s board. “It will facilitate the application of national and international standards in support of U.S. private sector homeland security preparedness requirements.”

ANAB will be responsible for carrying out independent accreditations, overseeing the certification process, and monitoring the operations of any third party conducting certifications for disaster/emergency management and business continuity programs.

For more information about ANAB, visit


HR Improvement Needed in Latin America

Latin America’s small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are facing competitive pressures due to globalization. Solving these challenges will involve taking concrete steps to improve human resource capabilities, according to two new Economist Intelligence Unit reports--”Latin America’s Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises: The Human Capital Challenge” and “Latin America’s Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises: The Organizational Challenge.”

The reports were based on a survey of 175 respondents in firms based in Latin America. Respondents indicated that Latin American SMEs face significant challenges in recruiting, attracting, and developing skilled workers. Organizations can better compete by becoming involved with supplier development programs at large multinational firms or engaging in innovative training programs in partnership with the public sector.

“Latin American SMEs are trying to catch up with their competitors,” says Kim Andreasson, senior editor, Industry and Management Research at the Economist Intelligence Unit and editor of the papers. “But the good news is that change is on the horizon.”

For further information and to view the report, visit


I on the News Editorial by Carey Wilson

Results or Time Spent: Which Delivers Best Value?

It’s pretty reasonable to assume that employees who show up late and go home early are a likely to be frowned upon by management. But what if that seemingly lackadaisical worker never misses a deadline and consistently turns in work of undeniable quality? Perhaps the time-management skills and diligence of effort required to maintain such a record should be rewarded rather than chastised?

Such is the philosophy behind a growing workplace movement called the results-only work environment (ROWE). Originated by former Best Buy employees Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, authors of Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It (Portfolio, 2008) and founders of consulting web site , ROWE is based on the idea that “even though you owe your company your best work, you do not owe them your time or your life,” say the authors.

Sure, this sounds feasible if you’re in a paperwork job with deadlines to meet and enough time on your hands to meet them, but what about those who have shop-floor production schedules to meet? A brake press can only perform so many functions per hour, and unless it’s under robot control it requires a human operator to stand there and keep the parts coming to meet that production quota.

To their credit, Ressler and Thompson realize that ROWE isn’t feasible everywhere. In the first chapter of their book, they write, “In an information and service economy it doesn’t make sense to use time as a measurement for a job well-done.” (Emphasis added.) It’s here that the noble and attractive aspects of the ROWE concept get a bit slippery. If the coworker you count on to provide you with valuable information has decided that her time is better spent getting a pedicure and a mudpack in the middle of the afternoon, do you calmly acknowledge her inalienable right to do so, or do you look for someone else you can rely on to deliver that information?

Likewise with your banker: If you need a crucial transaction to go through right away but the person who handles your financial matters spontaneously decides to go bowling and knock back a few cocktails, do you good-naturedly leave him a voice-mail saying how happy you are that he is enjoying his leisure time, or do you start looking for someone who feels that tending to crucial business in a timely and efficient fashion is as rewarding as picking up a three-ten split while getting blotto at 11 a.m.?

I’m not saying that a ROWE can’t work; it obviously can and does for a small percentage of the working population. I’m just saying that without a total reinvention of society as we know it, very few of us will ever get the opportunity to move out of our niches in the get-it-done-then-relax environment.

For more information, visit .


Seeking New and Emerging Manufacturing Technologies

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) is calling for nominations for the 2009 list of “Innovations That Could Change the Way You Manufacture.” The deadline for submissions is September 28, 2008. The list will showcase currently available new and emerging technologies that are making a positive difference in manufacturing.

Nominated innovations should bring significant business and financial benefits by minimizing cost and lead time, improving product quality and performance, and be robust and adaptable to meet or exceed customer demand and requirements.

“SME members are always looking to the future but they are also very much focused on making things happen today,” says Mark C. Tomlinson, SME executive director and general manager. “The idea behind SME’s list is to help our members and the manufacturing community sort through all the ‘new’ innovations announced each year.”

Nominators should describe the technology area that the innovation falls under, what effect it will have on the manufacturing community, the availability of the innovation, and how it works. If selected, nominators can count on media release announcements, a series of articles in Manufacturing Engineering magazine, presentations at conference sessions, and mentions in newsletters, technical papers, and SME’s Technical Community forum.

The Manufacturing Enterprise Council of SME will make the final selections. Technical experts and the nominator should be available during the decision-making process to answer questions and provide information.

For more information or to submit a nomination, visit .



We want to thank Graeme C. Payne, president of GK Systems Inc., for pointing out an error in the August 2008 article, “A Practical Approach to ISO/IEC 17025.” We inadvertently implied that there was only one ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation body in the United States.

In fact, as Payne states, “In addition to NVLAP, U.S.-based International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) mutual recognition arrangement signatories for calibration and testing are American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA), International Accreditation Service (IAS), ACLASS Accreditation Services, Laboratory Accreditation Bureau (LAB), and Perry Johnson Laboratory Accreditation (PJLA, testing only). Other North American ILAC signatories are Standards Council of Canada (SCC) and Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation (CALA) in Canada, and entidad mexicana de acreditación, a.c. (ema) in Mexico. A list of all current MRA signatories is available on the ILAC web site at


About The Author

Nicolette Dalpino and Carey Wilson’s default image

Nicolette Dalpino and Carey Wilson

Nicolette Dalpino and Carey Wilson are news editors for Quality Digest.