Content By Thomas R. Cutler

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By: Thomas R. Cutler

There is no shortage of standards. There are standards that define how something should be made vs. those related to processes, such as ISO 9001. According to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), standards that provide requirements or give guidance on good management practice are among the best known of ISO’s offerings. Having achieved truly global status and thoroughly integrated with the world economy, ISO 9001:2000 (the transition to ISO 9001:2008 is now taking place) establishes requirements for quality management systems (QMS). It’s the most implemented standard for providing assurance about an organization’s ability to satisfy quality requirements and enhance customer satisfaction in supplier-customer relationships.

At the most basic level, standards are simply the application of tried-and-tested best practices. Standards focus on the products or services delivered, the business processes followed, and the way a business is managed as a whole.

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By: Thomas R. Cutler

Supply chain organizations face significant pressures resulting from global competition, shorter product life cycles, and lean economic conditions. The escalating requirements of large customers create painful challenges for those companies still tied to conventional supply-chain processes. 

“These customers are compelling distributors to adopt value-added, supply-chain services, such as collaborative planning and vendor-managed inventories,” says Jeff Pyden, managing director at Georgia-based, OmniVue. “Predicting and responding to customer demand is a consistent problem. Distributors constantly struggle with too little, or too much, inventory. These factors have become the bottom-line quality control issues.”

At each step along the supply chain, outdated systems make it difficult to identify products that are moving slowly, or are out of stock. Left unresolved, these issues lead to discounts, lost orders, higher inventory costs, and lost customers. To stay competitive and avoid being bypassed altogether, supply chain businesses must adapt to evolving market demands by reducing costs and creating service-related income. A poorly managed supply chain is a key quality issue.

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By: Thomas R. Cutler

More than 90 percent of all food manufacturers have less than 200 employees. Yet, these small food manufacturers are held to the identical regulatory quality and safety standards as organizations with tens of thousands of employees. Surprisingly it is still not uncommon to find a small baked goods plant with someone taking inventory of bags of flour, nuts, and baking powder using a pencil and clipboard. While their methods may seem antiquated, the reality is that many technology solutions, which were designed to help food companies meet FDA and other regulatory compliance requirements, are over-priced for many small food manufacturers.

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By: Thomas R. Cutler

Innovative vehicle-mounted, hand-held, and wearable mobile computers must be dependable, tough, and reliable. Wireless computers extend corporate networks to mobile workers in demanding conditions and only rugged mobile computers drive down costs and improve customer satisfaction. These are quality-centric concepts.

Baldwin Richardson Foods, headquartered in Frankfort, Illinois, with manufacturing facility in Macedon, New York, produces bakery fillings, syrups, sauces, toppings, beverage mixes, condiments packets, and other food products. “Our operations were all manual. We wanted to automate and had looked into different bar coding systems over the years, but nothing was the right fit,” says Craig Czajka, the IT manager at Baldwin Richardson Foods. “Our [enterprise resource planning] ERP system is everything to us—it runs the whole business. We couldn’t take a chance with any systems or vendors that hadn’t proven they could integrate with it.”

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By: Thomas R. Cutler

TRANE Residential Systems, is a lean organization that knows about growth through innovation. In 1931, TRANE came up with the radical idea of using technology to provide relief from the summer heat. The 1938 launch of the Turbovac, the industry's first hermetic, centrifugal refrigeration machine, fundamentally changed the concept of air conditioning in large buildings. This was the beginning of a long chain of innovations that eventually led to TRANE's current CenTraVac, the industry standard for large commercial air conditioning systems. This energy-efficient system with its superior performance in minimizing refrigerant emissions, has earned TRANE the "Best of the Best Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award" from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

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By: Thomas R. Cutler

Story update 6/03/2011: The first two paragraphs following the subhead "ISO 22000 users" were changed.  

Regulatory and standards compliance is a requirement that meets with regular resistance from CFOs and CEOs who must justify the expense. Brand protection from recalls and costly litigation is essential; ultimately avoiding catastrophic business outcomes proves less of a driver for actionable traceability than seeking enhanced profitability.

The paradigm has shifted from traceability as a necessary evil to a quantifiable lean-enhanced profitability process.

With food safety at the highest levels of concern by the average customer, the ISO 22000 (and Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 220) standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization, complying with food safety regulations has never been more important than it is today. Communication in the food chain is essential to ensure that all relevant food safety hazards are identified and adequately controlled at each step within the food chain.

This interactive communication is the first step in the ISO 22000 international standard, which specifies the requirements for a food safety management system includes system management and utilizes hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) principles.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

Story update 6/03/2011: The first two paragraphs following the subhead "ISO 22000 users" were changed.  

Regulatory and standards compliance is a requirement that meets with regular resistance from CFOs and CEOs who must justify the expense. Brand protection from recalls and costly litigation is essential; ultimately avoiding catastrophic business outcomes proves less of a driver for actionable traceability than seeking enhanced profitability.

The paradigm has shifted from traceability as a necessary evil to a quantifiable lean-enhanced profitability process.

With food safety at the highest levels of concern by the average customer, the ISO 22000 (and Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 220) standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization, complying with food safety regulations has never been more important than it is today. Communication in the food chain is essential to ensure that all relevant food safety hazards are identified and adequately controlled at each step within the food chain.

This interactive communication is the first step in the ISO 22000 international standard, which specifies the requirements for a food safety management system includes system management and utilizes hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) principles.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) is an iterative four-step problem-solving process typically used in business process improvement. It’s also known as the Deming Cycle. When W. Edwards Deming postulated this process, there was no such system as e-commerce.

PDCA has been rarely applied to web sites or to the quality of the enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation, which is often the backbone of the e-commerce web site.  This is particularly true in SAP ERP implementations. Sam Bayer, Ph.D., founder of b2b2dot0 suggests, “The e-commerce web site provides the ultimate ‘check’ of the quality of the ERP configuration, business rules, and data. Real-time integrated e-commerce web sites can provide a positive effect on overall order entry quality. If they are standalone web sites that are separately maintained, they will inject defects into the process.”

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By: Thomas R. Cutler

Respecting a quality manager’s opinion is meaningless unless there’s enterprisewide buy-in to ideas and quality initiatives. Rarely do the individuals serving on a lean initiative, continued process-improvement team learn the scientifically proven communication techniques that will persuade others to change their perceptions about quality.

Often a lead quality control professional is perceived as a police officer rather than a trusted advisor within the team or an established guru in the field. Reminiscent of Rodney Dangerfield, more than 72 percent of quality professionals surveyed by my company recently reported they receive too little respect from others within their organization. The same survey revealed that all 392 North American quality managers surveyed wished to be seen by other managers as having a proactive and valuable opinion on how to make the company successful, and wanted to break down the walls that separate quality from other departments.

Driving buy-in from the organization for valuable quality initiatives—such as failure mode and effects analysis, good manufacturing practices, continuous improvement, ISO 9001, ISO 14001, the Baldrige Criteria, and governmental compliance or regulatory requirements—is much easier when quality professionals function effectively.

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By: Thomas R. Cutler

When every product manufactured is unique, clients often accept quality risks in order to deliver the project on time. Testing time is limited by the project nature of a manufacturing process and the metrics of quality change when compared to repetitive manufacturing. “Fixed delivery times, prototype manufacturing, and small enterprises lack the staff depth to monitor quality identically,” says Dennis Parass of Burlington, Ontario-based Questica, an engineer-to-order (ETO) technology firm.

Quality, often defined as the absence of any defect, must have the characteristics of a system that conforms to an original design. ETO products are unique and there’s often no original design. There are data from previous projects that possess similarities and help to guide quality and accuracy, but the notion of simply rerunning a job doesn’t exist in the ETO world of manufacturing.