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By: Robert Nix

My first experience with the word “culture” comes from my high school science class. We grew a living organism on a nutrient base, which the teacher called a culture. The girls in class described it using the medical term, “Eeewwwww!” Years later, in the business world, I find top managers subjected to the pressure to incorporate a quality culture into their business, describing it in the executive term, “Eeewwwww!” Like the old cereal commercial, they are told it’s “supposed to be good for you,” which means it doesn’t taste very good.

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By: Quality Digest

Quest Diagnostics recently announced the selection of Instantis’ EnterpriseTrack tracking and management solution for its Six Sigma effort.

EnterpriseTrack will be in use by Quest Six Sigma teams spread across its business units.

“Information tracking and reporting needs for Six Sigma are demanding, often complex and continuously evolve,” says Eric Mattenson, Quest Diagnostics Six Sigma vice president. “Today, the EnterpriseTrack product from Instantis provides us with an elegant solution designed for Six Sigma that meets our project and knowledge management needs and provides a user interface simplicity that is driving rapid adoption by our Black Belts.”

Quest Diagnostics operates more than 2,000 patient centers, 155 rapid response laboratories and more than 30 regional laboratories. It performs more than one million tests a day.

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By: Quality Digest

Top executives from Bank of America will host a Six Sigma symposium in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Oct. 25-27.

Bank Chairman and CEO Kenneth D. Lewis will deliver the keynote address, and the company’s Six Sigma Leadership Team will lead a moderated panel discussion about using Six Sigma to drive organic growth and innovation.

Other themes to be explored in seven workshops at the symposium include: using Six Sigma to increase customer satisfaction; using Six Sigma to drive innovation in service, products and technology; and using Six Sigma to improve process management.

The symposium will also offer case studies on 32 project applications, 12 roundtables and panel discussions, a member challenge competition, an awards dinner sponsored by the International Society for Six Sigma Practitioners and a tour of a Bank of America check processing facility, where Six Sigma practices are in use daily.

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SigmaXL recently released an enhanced version of its eponymous software suite.

SigmaXL 3.0 features failure mode effects analysis; cause-and-effect matrix templates; gage repeatability and reliability templates with multivariable, X-bar and R-charts; as well as; multiple regression with residual plots; and basic design of experiments with Pareto of coefficients for determining the mean and standard deviations of interaction plots.

Additional features include the ability to add data to existing control charts median options for individual and moving range charts, and enhanced security options.

“Sigma XL was designed from the ground up to be a cost-effective, powerful, but easy-to-use tool that enables users to measure, analyze, improve and control their service, transactional and manufacturing processes,” says John Noguera, Sigma XL senior partner. “As an add-in to the already-familiar Microsoft Excel, SigmaXL is ideal for Six Sigma training.”

A free 30-day trial version is available for download at www.sigmaxl.com.

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By: Quality Digest

DVT Corp. recently announced the availability of a new PC-based object linking and embedding for process control server designed to work with the company’s Legend series of smart camera-based machine vision systems.

OPC technology can eliminate expensive custom interfaces and drivers normally required for interconnecting equipment and moving data throughout the organization. It also promotes interoperability among different computing solutions and platforms both horizontally and vertically in an enterprise.

“The DVT OPC server opens the world of plug-and-play interoperability to machine vision users,” says Steve Gieseking, DVT director of research and development. “It’s easier to configure and is more robust than existing OPC software options.”

The OPC server was developed for DVT by Iconics Inc., a leader in OPC-based, Web-enabled visualization software for manufacturing, automation and business solutions. The following standards are supported by the OPC server: OPC DA 1.0, OPC DA 2.05A, OPC DA 3.0, OPC DA Auto 2.0, OPC XML-DA 1.0, OPC AE 1.10 and OPC Complex Data 1.0.

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By: Quality Digest

Vought Aircraft Industries Inc. recently signed a contract with Leica Geosystems to buy six laser tracking systems for its manufacturing operations in Dallas.

Vought reports it will extend the contract over a span of four years to replace its existing measurement systems with approximately 24 Leica LTD800s and LTD600 laser tracking systems. The contract value could total $4 million.

Under the sales agreement, Leica Geosystems will help Vought maximize its use of the high-tech portable coordinate measuring machines through extensive training services, technical support and maintenance. Vought Aircraft will use the laser trackers for the precision inspection of all its tooling operations in Texas as well as other Vought facilities in the United States. The industrial measurement instruments Vought plans to buy will be used for quality control in high profile military and commercial aircraft programs, although the devices can also be used in a wide variety of mobile precision measurements for the construction, assembly and mating of aerospace parts.

For more information, visit www.leica-geosystems.com.

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By: Quality Digest

As organizations pursue quality and value, many find that Six Sigma alone isn’t enough to compete in the global marketplace. The addition of quality function deployment, however, often translates into increased functionality, quality and profitability.

International TechneGroup Inc. will host a teleconference seminar, “QFD At Its Best: Enabling Your Organization,” at 2 p.m. on Aug. 26. The company reports that participants will learn to make smarter decisions related to choosing, planning and delivering quality products to customers. In addition, participants will learn how QFD:

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Pilgrim Software recently announced the availability of its SmartAudit Offline solution.

The suite is based on Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003, though it’s a new and separately licensed add-on to Pilgrim’s SmartAudit version 7.03.5 internal and external audit management system. It allows users to perform remote offsite audits or any audit where a network or Internet connection isn’t available. Data can be entered into SmartAudit Offline and then synchronized with the centralized database later.

“SmartAudit Offline is a powerful tool that enables collaborative mobile auditing to enhance team-based global audits, improved audit quality and reduced auditing time,” says Atulya Risal, Pilgrim Software’s chief technology officer. “Because audit data can be recorded from remote offsite locations and then aggregated together and tracked over time, SmartAudit Offline provides management with both site-level and enterprise-level visibility into their global operations.”

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By: Quality Digest

National Quality Assurance USA recently announced its accreditation through the ElectroStatic Discharge Association to provide auditing services against ANSI/ESD S20.20:1999.

The accreditation will allow NQA USA to help organizations develop electrostatic discharge control programs. The ANSI standard addresses requirements to design, establish, implement and maintain electrostatic discharge control programs to protect electrical parts, assemblies and equipment susceptible to ESD damage.

With support from major electronic OEMs and government agencies, ESD S20.20 programs and registrations are becoming the preferred means to prevent costly field failures and in-house rework of electronic components in the telecommunications, aerospace and medical device industries. An ESD control program helps eliminate component failures before they occur, saving the organization money while increasing quality and customer satisfaction.

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By: Quality Digest

Carl Zeiss SMT Inc. recently opened a new applications and demonstration lab in Redwood City, California.

The company plans to use the new Electron Microscopy Applications Lab to serve West Coast customers with better applications, sales and service support. Customers can bring samples in for evaluation on the lab’s state-of-the-art equipment, which includes Zeiss’ CrossBeam, SUPRA and EVO technologies.

CrossBeam combines high-resolution, simultaneous-imaging and distortion-free analysis of magnetic specimens with a compact multichannel gas injection system. SUPRA is an ultra high resolution variable pressure FESEM for semiconductor applications, materials analysis, life science and variable pressure solutions. Finally, EVO is a general purpose SEM with superior imaging capabilities and extended pressure.

For more information, visit www.smt.zeiss.com.