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By: Quality Digest

Nikon Instruments Inc. has opened the Nikon 2004 Small World Photomicrography Competition.

Nikon’s International Small World Competition began in 1975 to recognize excellence in microscopic photography. The competitionÂ’s reputation has grown exponentially throughout the years and is regarded as the leading forum for recognizing the beauty and complexity of life as seen through a light microscope. In essence, it’s the blending of art and science.

All microscopists are encouraged to enter the competition and can do so directly online by clicking here. The deadline for entries is June 30. Each entry will be reviewed by a panel of judges based on the following criteria: originality, informational content, technical proficiency and visual impact.

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By: Quality Digest

"More vehicles will be produced in the next 20 years than were manufactured in the previous 110-year history of the industry," says Garel Rhys, director of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research Cardiff University Business School in Wales.

Rhys’ statements came at an address to members of the Society of Automotive Analysts at the 2004 World Congress of the Society of Automotive Engineers. "The increased production will require an $80 trillion investment, 180 new assembly plants, and require most existing factories to be renewed, retooled, refurbished or replaced to remain effective," he says.

Much of the increase will be the result of emerging markets, those now experiencing dynamic growth and those yet to become players in the world automotive market. China, India and Eastern Europe are rapidly becoming mobile as their economies and societies evolve.

The world automotive market is like a "coil spring that can go any direction," says Rhys. Large firms rely on product philosophy and business methods rather than innovation, while smaller firms may be more creative and willing to take chances.

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By: Quality Digest

Acxiom Corp. and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will collaborate to research customer-centric information quality management.

Richard Wang, director of the MIT Information Quality Program, and John R. Talburt, director of the Acxiom Laboratory for Applied Research, will lead the effort to explore data quality issues related to customer-centric information architectures. Of particular interest to the researchers are knowledge-driven customer recognition systems used in customer relationship management applications.

"I see this collaboration with the MITIQ program as a means to further develop Acxiom’s enterprisewide focus on data quality and to bring together a working group of other companies interested in this same area of research," says Zachary Wilhoit, Acxiom leader for data content.

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By: Quality Digest

Hexagon AB has agreed to acquire the South Korean company Korea ErFa Systems Engineering Co.’s metrology business.

Hexagon will continue Korea ErFa’s operations under the name Hexagon Metrology Korea. The company will initially have a sales turnover of $1.3 million comprising commissions on sales of new coordinate measuring machines and aftermarket services. The new company will employ nine people.

ErFa systems has represented Hexagon Metrology’s products in Korea during the last few years. Last year, its machine sales in Korea amounted to $4 million. The ErFa systems acquisition is part of Hexagon Metrology’s larger effort to reinforce its global presence in new machine sales and aftermarket services.

Hexagon AB is a multinational engineering group. The operation is divided into four business areas: Hexagon Automation, Hexagon Engineering, Hexagon Metrology and Hexagon Polymers.

For more information, click here.

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(IQS: North Olmsted, OH) -- IQS Inc. has released its OptiMetrix Integration Engine, an enterprise performance management application that enables real-time, bidirectional transfer of APQP information throughout the automotive manufacturer supply chain.

OptiMetrix IE uses native messaging agent technology and electronic data exchange through XML documents across multiple tiers of supply chains. The technology enables low-cost data integration with manufacturers’ existing APQP systems and provides a means of reducing nonvalue-added costs using open standards based on XML and Web services.

“Our OptiMetrix IE represents breakthrough integration technology that enables critical product design and engineering data to pass quickly and accurately throughout multiple layers of the supply chain,” says Michael Rapaport, IQS president and CEO. “With OEMs planning a record number of product launches this year, the ability to compress the product launch cycle and speed time to market will affect manufacturers’ profitability in a very significant way.”

The technology is available to the automotive industry in both on-site and hosted, on-demand versions. For more information, click here.

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By: Quality Digest

GOAL/QPC has published Six Sigma for Business Leaders, (GOAL/QPC, 2004) a book authored by Gregory H. Watson.

The book provides practical guidance to executives and managers as they design and implement Six Sigma programs. It’s the fourth in GOAL/QPC’s series of books on Six Sigma. "Our earlier books target the Master Black Belt, Black Belt and Six Sigma project team members as the principal audience," says Bob Page, GOAL/QPC’s product development director. "Six Sigma for Business Leaders shines the spotlight on the executive and managerial roles that are critically important for successful implementation."

To write the book, Watson drew from his experience in implementing Six Sigma with management teams in North and South America, Europe and Asia. "A unique feature of the book is that it provides answers to 50 of the most frequently asked questions from managers about the implementation and management of Six Sigma programs," says Watson. "These questions are derived from the experiences I encountered as a consultant to more than 25 Six Sigma program deployments in a variety of organizations."

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By: Quality Digest

The National Quality Institute has offered a new line of customer and employee satisfaction online surveys.

The surveys were developed in response to the increasing desire of organizations to better understand the needs of their customers, clients and patients--as well as the needs of their employees. The new surveys are intended to offer a cost-effective means of accurately gauging this information.

The online surveys provide tools to augment both custom performance improvement programs as well as those based on NQI PEP, ISO 9001:2000, AIM accreditation criteria or other management systems.

For more detailed information, including sample screens depicting the surveys, click here.

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By: Quality Digest

PQ Systems Inc. has released an updated version of its popular CHARTrunner application, which includes a Microsoft Excel add-in that allows users to draw charts from within Excel.

CHARTrunner, a stand-alone charting tool for general statistical process control charting, eliminates data entry and streamlines the process of statistical analysis. The program reads data residing not only in Excel, but also in Access, SQL Server, Oracle and many other data sources.

Because data resides in familiar database formats, no data re-entry or transfer is necessary for statistical analysis. The updated version allows users to produce high-quality, clear statistical charts without exiting Excel.

For more information about CHARTrunner, click here.

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By: Ronald Ames

As a methodology, Six Sigma has been around since the 1980s. Yet it took a couple of U.S. industry giants, Allied Signal and GE, to draw the world’s attention to the benefits the program offers businesses. Even so, many companies fail to integrate Six Sigma into their corporate cultures due to a number of different causes. This article will examine some of the problems and their solutions.

Late at the gate: nonstarters

Let’s first analyze the reason why companies decide against implementing Six Sigma in the first place. In the adult learning model, we’re taught that our first learning phase is "unconsciously incompetent." In other words, we aren’t aware of our ignorance. Many company leaders see the initial cost of Six Sigma and say, "It’s too expensive for us," Yet many of those companies incur costs of waste many times what they’d would spend on Six Sigma. They don’t know or can’t commit to the investment because they can’t quantify its benefit. But for the Six Sigma practitioner, the first in the define phase is to calculate the entitlement. This is the heart of the methodology: committing to the savings and timing at the outset.

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By: Suzan Fischer, Michele Economou-Ureste and Norma Simons

(Publisher’s Note: This article, is reprinted with permission from THE INFORMED OUTLOOK, in which it first appeared in Nov. 2003.)

Following the ISO 9001:2000 transition, the future of quality management continues to align with that of business management. The challenge in both cases is for organizations to move beyond baseline practices provided by traditional management approaches. Companies that fail to rise to the challenge could lose their competitive edge or their existence in an increasingly global marketplace.

Continual improvement, which was made explicit in the generic quality management system requirements of ISO 9001:2000, is the element that can provide security to organizations that effectively pursue it throughout their operations. In the aerospace sector, this security is provided by AS9100A, Quality Systems-Aerospace-Model for Quality Assurance in Design, Development, Production, Installation and Servicing, which was published in August 2001 and is aligned with ISO 9001:2000.