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Intel Corp. has awarded 16 companies its most prestigious award for suppliers, the Supplier Continuous Quality Improvement Award.

The award recognizes Intel suppliers that exhibited outstanding commitment to quality and performance excellence during 2003. The group of winning companies was honored at a ceremony in Burlingame, California, on March 23.

The SCQI winners are: Asymtek, A Nordson Co.; Disco Corp.; Fujimi Corp.; George Fischer Piping Systems Ltd.; IBM Corp.; Ibiden Co. Ltd.; Kelly Services Inc.; Kester; Nidec Corp.; Sanyo Denki Co. Ltd.; Senju Metal Industry Co. Ltd.; Shinko Electric Industries Co. Ltd.; Sumitomo Mitsubishi Silicon Corp.; TDK Corp.; Tokyo Electron Limited; and Tokyo Ohka Kogyo Co. Ltd.

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When Allen Witherspoon, general manager of GASCO Manufacturing, needed to write a quality manual to satisfy the requirements of one of his top customers, he had no idea where to start.

"I knew I couldn’t simply sit down and do it," says Witherspoon. "I didn’t have the time or the knowledge and I wasn’t sure where to begin."

Witherspoon turned to the New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership. "We’re not a complex company, but I gave the MEP project manager a tour of the entire GASCO facility to see exactly how we operate," explains Witherspoon.

The MEP project manager assessed GASCO’s entire process--sales, receiving raw materials, manufacturing and warehousing--before beginning work on the manual. "As a result of the new quality control manual, the company’s processes are now formally defined and documented, and we satisfied our customer’s requirements," says Witherspoon. "We have also hired a new employee to inspect received raw material and the final product. This new hire was a direct result of the now detailed and defined inspection activities documented in our new quality control manual."

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The largest missile manufacturing facility in the world, an appliance manufacturer and 10 automotive suppliers are 2004 recipients of the 2004 Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing.

Dubbed the "Nobel Prize of Manufacturing" by Business Week, the Shingo Prize focuses on lean manufacturing practices. The prize is named after Shigeo Shingo, who helped create the Toyota Production System and other manufacturing processes. Nine state-level awards and a public-sector category, primarily for military depots doing remanufacturing, have been implemented in recent months.

Three notable achievements of the 2004 recipients include:

  • Seven of the 12 achieved product quality of less than 10 returned parts per million opportunities from the customer.
  • Seven of the 12 have inventory turns of more than 25 per year (compared to a U.S. average of 8).
  • Premium freight as a percent of production costs averaged 0.12 percent.


These data cover the full-year of 2003 and all are clear indicators of world-class manufacturing achievements.

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Agilent Technologies Inc. has signed an agreement with eBay, allowing sellers to offer pre-owned test equipment that has been assured through the new Agilent Advantage Assurance program.

The program gives customers the option to purchase on eBay Agilent test equipment that has been evaluated and fully calibrated by Agilent to meet performance specifications. The program also provides one year of free technical support from Agilent.

"This is the first time a test and measurement manufacturer has offered customers such a comprehensive program for pre-owned equipment," says Bill Highstreet, vice president and general manager of Agilent’s Financial Solutions Unit. "Customers are looking for value-priced pre-owned equipment but are concerned about unknown quality. The Agilent Advantage Assurance program instills confidence in customers who purchase pre-owned test equipment on eBay."

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Three of the world’s leading measurement laboratories, including the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology’ have lined up the hash marks from four of the world’s best optical frequency rulers and declared that they match.

The experiments, reported in the March 19 issue of the journal Science 1, are a significant step toward next-generation atomic clocks based on optical rather than microwave frequencies. Such clocks are expected to be as much as 100 times more accurate than today’s best timekeeping systems.

Although the new technology won’t affect average wristwatch wearers, it will provide the ultra-precise timekeeping necessary for navigation, telecommunications and basic scientific research.

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EtQ Inc., a provider of enterprise quality, compliance and environmental management software, has launched the EtQ Quality Server, a package equipped with the full EtQ quality management suite, including more than 20 modules and all the tools to run an enterprise quality management system.

The Quality Server system is located at a customer’s site but is maintained by EtQ. The server arrives completely configured and ready to use. The Web browser-based system is easy to use and requires little training to get started.

The EtQ Quality Server was designed with the small to mid-sized business in mind, offering an enterprise solution at as low as $999 per month. An alternative to purchasing a solution, the Quality Server is a new option for companies that want the highest level of quality for their business but cannot afford to own and maintain an enterprise quality system solution. The software on the Quality Server is the same version that is used by some of the largest Fortune 100 companies in the world.

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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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"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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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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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.