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News Digest

This Month in News Digest

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Lean Raptors

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Quality Expo 2007 Wrap-Up

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Do the Math

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Building Quality Bridges

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Errata

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Having a Beef with Recalls

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Bridging the Cultural Communication Gap

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ECCB Defines Goals

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Quality Conversation with Drew Greenblatt

 

Lean Raptors

Employees want their voices heard and their ideas valued. On the F-22 Raptor line, at Boeing’s Seattle assembly center, the value of those ideas is being proven.

It started when two F-22 assembly mechanics noticed that they were tripping over hoses in their area. They remembered that carwash hoses hang from swing-arms and wondered “Why not here?” When they brought up the idea at a staff meeting, they were surprised to find their manager not only agreeing with it but acting on it.

“As more people saw this happening, it became almost infectious,” said F-22 operations director Jeff Stone. “It did wonders for morale when they saw major responses to their suggestions on how to make their jobs easier and the manufacturing process more flexible.”

Employee involvement at Boeing is a key part in the application of Lean+, a companywide productivity initiative. When managers began implementing lean, they found that people needed to learn to work together before they could effectively apply the principles. So Boeing introduced the High-Performance Work Team program, in which individual crews work toward becoming self-directing.

“They’ve empowered the teams with the tools and understanding to work the lean activities that make their jobs easier,” says Dave Pouliot, Raptor assembly center manager, about the HPWTs. “And the cost and quality numbers show that they’re delivering in spades.”

Chris Barger, who leads the Raptor Challengers HPWT, saw a process that needed leaning-out in his area. The team was “stick-building”—laying up an entire wing assembly from basic, incremental parts—and thus slowing the assembly line. Barger proposed smaller tooling that would allow lay-up of subassemblies which could then be joined at a swifter pace.

Sealing specialist Debbie Johnson and her P5 Closers work with cumbersome sealant guns that are difficult to maneuver when working on the undersurface of a wing. Johnson sketched out a concept for a wheeled platform that would use hydraulic pressure to elevate the gun until it met resistance, then hold it firmly against the resisting surface.

“I told my manager about it, and he said to run with it,” Johnson says. “I took it to manufacturing research and development (MR&D) and they came through.” Within 48 hours, MR&D produced a prototype of the rolling hydraulic platform and added a mirror so sealers can see what they’re doing without squatting down and craning their necks uncomfortably. Now the entire sealing crew is equipped with the platforms.

The wing final-assembly HPWT improved its efficiency by assigning one member to address any problems that arise during the shift. “A half-dozen of us used to stop, wander over, and give our opinion,” says leader Richard Merritt. “That ate up time and didn’t usually solve the problem.”

The HPWTs have cut lag time enormously. “Instead of 1,500 hours to get a wing set out the door, we’re down to 640 and still trimming,” says Merritt. They’ve also boosted morale. “We get along really well these days,” Merritt continues, “and as a result, nobody wants to leave.”

To read the full story by Doug Cantwell, visit www.boeing.com/news/frontiers/archive/2007/august/i_ids02.pdf.

 

Quality Expo 2007 Wrap-Up

As always, Quality Expo proved to be one of the year’s best opportunities to meet and mingle with the organizations and people that are leading the way in quality-related manufacturing.

More than 5,000 quality professionals were in attendance at this year’s Quality Expo. More than 20,000 others attended the other four shows that were co-located at the same venue (the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois): Assembly Technology Expo, Electronics Assembly Show, National Manufacturing Week, and PLASTEC Midwest. The total number of exhibitors exceeded 1,400, giving attendees wide exposure to thousands of new products and services. The response to having these added expos all under one roof was overwhelmingly positive.

Next year’s Quality Expo will be held at the Rock Financial Showplace in Novi, Michigan, June 11–12. Quality Expo will next come to Rosemont September 14–17, 2009. Once again, it will be held in conjunction with these other manufacturing trade shows, and will add Green Manufacturing Expo and Medical Design & Manufacturing Midwest.

For more information, visit online at www.qualityexpo.com or www.qualitydetroit.com.

 

Do the Math

Last month we sent you to MSNBC to read about the “skinny gene,” a gene that may control fat formation. In that article was the following comment:

“‘That would be a big difference in humans,’ he explains. ‘The average woman has about 25-percent body fat. Reducing that by a third would take her down to about 9 percent. That’s super lean—a supermodel kind of thin.’”

Actually, reducing 25 percent by one third would take you down to about 17-percent body fat. Given what was said in the paragraph that preceded this one, the author meant to say that “reducing her body fat to one-third of that would take her down to about 9 percent.”

This month’s lucky winner of a fabulous prize from our friends at woot.com is Bruce Rohn. It was the least we could do.

Next puzzle
Thanks to reader Richard Browne, we embarked on a mission to find a peculiar kind of error and discovered it in a 2002 Beech-Nut Baby Food contest. The grand prize winner of this contest won his or her baby’s weight in gold. Here is a section from the contest rules:

“Grand Prize (1): The cash value of winner’s baby’s birth weight in gold based on the price of gold at the close of business on December 31, 2002 (up to a maximum $50,000 value). In the case of multiples, birth weights of all multiples will be added together and prize will be based on total weight (up to a maximum $50,000 value). (Estimated retail value, based on price of gold on 8/23/02 [$306.20/ounce] and a birth weight of 9.5 lbs = $46,542.40, up to a maximum $50,000 value).”

Spot the error, send it to us using the feedback link at the bottom of this page, and you might win a prize… such as it is.

If you find a math error be sure to send it to “Do the Math” using the feedback link at the bottom of this page.

 

Building Quality Bridges

Historically, most large bridges are “overdesigned” with substantial margins of safety built in to compensate for unknown forces that could affect their integrity over time. For the reliability, maintenance, and economic viability of the bridges of the future, better performance from the ground up is critical.

Penn State University Civil and Engineering Associate Professor Daniel Linzell and his research group employ advanced finite element analysis (FEA) to create computer models for studying the structural behavior of bridges before, during, and after construction.

“Civil engineering has relied on linearly elastic, small-deflection FEA methods used in software tools as the backbone of bridge analysis. This method is an approximation and doesn’t capture the full range of real-world nonlinear responses in larger, more complicated structures,” says Linzell. “Higher-order FEA methods provide the capability to account for realistic stresses and deformations.”

Linzell’s group uses Abaqus software to create better virtual bridges. Using the software, a numerical model is built based on an existing design. Elements—tiny geometric shapes, mathematically representing physical units—are linked by nodes to form a numerical model.

Next, they set up the boundary conditions. “We select how the bridge is going to be restrained, whether we are going to utilize a contact condition or a discrete restraint, and how friction will be represented, for example,” Linzell says. Then various loads are applied to parts of the bridge. The Abaqus creep module is used for time-
dependent factors. “Creep is a big issue with concrete, and similar time-dependent effects influence steel behavior as well,” continues Linzell. Depending on where loads prove to be excessive, the model can be modified until the optimum is reached.

The use of more sophisticated analysis tools will also serve to minimize the cost of building bridges and help to evaluate damaged structures. Linzell sees nonlinear FEA playing an increasingly important role in building better bridges. “We are hoping to come up with unified FEA guidelines for bridges,” he says. “Other disciplines already do, so we’re trying to initiate that process.”

For more information, visit www.3ds.com.

 

Errata

In “Introducing Quality 2.0,” by Thomas Pyzdek ( Quality Digest , Sept. 2007), the labels of the two figures were transposed. Figure 1 should have been labeled “Management Process Overview,” and Figure 2 should have been labeled “Purpose, Vision, and Mission.” This has been corrected online.

In addition, the following company was inadvertently left out of the Quality Consultants Directory in our Sept. 2007 issue. The company’s information is reprinted here:

Et Cetera Group Inc.
211 Lathrop Way , Ste. E
Sacramento , CA 95815
Ph : 800-987-0020
Fax: 916-772-0544
www.etcgroup.com
AS, 9K, TS, QS, SQP, TL

For a key to directory abbreviations, visit www.qualitydigest.com/pdfs/consult.pdf .

 

I on the News
Editorial by Carey Wilson

Having a Beef with Recalls

Despite having examined many accounts of food-borne illness, regretful going-out-of-business press releases, sobering wire service accounts of multimillion-pound hamburger recalls, a plethora of blog entries, and even a Web site soliciting clients for “hamburger lawsuits,” I on the News is still wondering who ultimately had the responsibility (ethical or legal) to detect, report, and contain the most recent outbreaks of e. coli 0157:H7 in the hamburger-packaging industry.

With that conundrum hanging in the air, let’s examine the figures involved. According to www . askmetafilter.com , “A 1,150-pound steer doesn’t yield 1,150 pounds of beef. On the average, that steer yields a 714-pound carcass. Approximately 146 pounds of fat and bone are trimmed [from that], leaving about 568 pounds of retail beef cuts.”

Now, if we take the 21.7 million pounds of burger recently recalled by the now-expired Topps Meat Co., and add the 844,812 pounds of burger recalled by Cargill Meat Solutions in early October, we come up with a total of approximately 22,544,812 pounds of recalled beef. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll assume that all 568 usable pounds of each beef carcass was ground into burger, and by dividing that figure into our total recalled poundage, we find that the edible portions of approximately 39,692 cattle skipped the grill and went straight to the dump.

So much for the math. Now what about the responsibility? Many of us are aware that the United States Department of Agriculture has a branch called the Food Safety and Inspection Service, but how many know that neither the FSIS, nor its state government equivalents, have been granted the legal power to order a recall of tainted food products? Reading this in a press release issued by the Consumer Federation of America, I on the News was flabbergasted: The USDA’s mission statement says, “The Food Safety and Inspection Service is the public health agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture responsible for ensuring that the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged.” But it cannot legally order a recall of potentially dangerous food products? Amazing.

For clarification, I on the News called the FSIS and talked with agency spokesman Amanda Eamich, who informed us that though the agency cannot legally order a recall, it can “detain” and publicize contaminated food products while suggesting a “voluntary” recall.

“We’ve never had a company refuse a recall,” says Eamich.

For more information, visit www.fsis.usda.gov.

 

Bridging the Cultural Communication Gap

Citing the unparalleled economic growth of India, author Craig Storti illuminates the growing need for more savvy communication between Indians and Westerners in his book, Speaking of India: Bridging the Communication Gap When Working with Indians (Intercultural Press, 2007).

Storti identifies the best practices used to avoid disaster and embarrassment that can cost time, energy, and goodwill. Understanding cultural issues such as the role of women, the difference between “yes” and “no” in each culture, and the secrets of a successful conference call are crucial to good communication. According to Storti, now is the time to directly address our cultural differences. With a little training, a measure of understanding, and a dose of good humor, we can grow together on the global stage.

For more information, visit www.interculturalpress.com.

 

ECCB Defines Goals

In September, the Electronic Components Certification Board met to continue its work of establishing standards, specifications, training, and certification programs that address the “reduction of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic components, related materials, and products, and the electronic component management programs for electronic components used in airplanes, space vehicles, and military equipment (IECQ ECMP).”

In past years the avionics, aerospace, and military industries had significant influence over the development of electrical and electronic components, but their demand for electronic components is small compared to the consumer products and automotive industries. This has increased the need to more tightly manage the use of commercial off-the-shelf parts. Documents approved at the Sept. 11 meetings address this industry need at an international level. Programs such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus 350 are expected to be the first to make IECQ ECMP compliance a requirement for their suppliers.

On Sept. 12, members discussed issues related to IECQ hazardous-substance process management (HSPM) as detailed in global standard QC 080000. A consumer products advisory group (CPAG) was created to address issues such as the effects of legislation regarding the restriction of hazardous substances (RoHS) and the need for new technologies and new compliance strategies for dealing with regulatory variations between countries.

“Cleaning up what we have produced over the years will take decades,” says Stanley H. Salot, Jr., president of the ECCB. “The advent of RoHS and other such directives and laws around the world puts a stake in the ground, and QC 080000 IECQ HSPM certification helps us measure our success toward cleaning up the world in which we live .”

 

Quality Conversation with Drew Greenblatt

Marlin Steel Wire Products LLC, a Baltimore manufacturer of engineered wire products, caters to an international clientele. In 2000, faced with low-cost imports of bagel baskets, the original foundation of Marlin’s revenue, the company’s owner, Drew Greenblatt, decided to concentrate on manufacturing specialized products for customers such as Toyota Motor Co., Ford Motor Co., Pfizer Inc., Illinois Tool Works Inc., and Westinghouse Electric Co. Ltd. By implementing lean practices, Marlin grew from near-extinction to become a profitable, award-winning manufacturer. Here, Greenblatt discusses some of the practices that helped achieve that growth.

Quality Digest: What convinced you that lean was the best path for your company?

Drew Greenblatt: Shipping fast, reducing scrap and rework, and improving quality convinced us that lean was the path to success. Prior to lean, our robots would crank out parts as fast as possible. Occasionally, the robots would be set up incorrectly and quickly generate scrap. The lean approach resulted in quality errors of one bad part, not thousands.

QD: How often do you have a quality assurance inspector confirm product quality, and what do you do when a defect in production is discovered?

DG : Currently, each employee fabricates a single operation. If a part doesn’t fit into its fixture, the employee stops production until the problem is solved. In addition, foremen check the quality of the work.

 

QD : Is close cooperation with your customers something you developed as part of your personal management style?

DG : We impress on our team that honesty and candor are paramount for building trust and generating reorders.

 

QD : What systems do you use for designing products, and how have they aided the implementation of lean?

DG : We use AutoCad Inventor. The software allows us to quickly generate fixturing that constrains our parts, forcing consistency and minimizing defects.

Our engineers each have two large flat- screen monitors, one for e-mail and the other for AutoCad data. Not having to minimize screens or close programs to send/receive e-mails supercharges our engineers.

 

QD: Does Marlin’s staff meet to discuss how processes can be improved? If so, what is the most useful improvement that has come from employee input?

DG : The best ideas for improving quality come from the employees on the factory floor. We now have “pre-release” meetings where the plant manager discusses each of the jobs with the lead people to optimize production flow and identify pitfalls.

For more information, visit www.marlinwire.com.