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News Digest

This Month in News Digest

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Big Three Letter Signifies an End to QS-9000

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The Professional’s Struggle: Balancing Work and Home Lives

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EPA Promotes Environmental Management Systems

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Educators Gather to Discuss Quality Circles in Schools

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ISO 9000 and 14000 Certifications Surge in 2001

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ASQ Offers Auditor Certification in Biomedical Technology

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Mark Your Calendars for Customer Service Week

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Accredited Schools Share Quality Projects Online

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Two Metrology Companies Merge

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Industry News


Big Three Letter Signifies an End to QS-9000

In a joint letter dated August 2002, the Big Three automotive companies informed suppliers that they must upgrade their quality registration to ISO/TS 16949. The deadlines for transitioning are Dec. 14, 2006, for suppliers to Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp., and July 1, 2004, for DaimlerChrysler suppliers. The mandate ultimately guarantees the end of QS-9000 and the beginning of a rush to comply and register.

“The agreement between QS-9000 and ISO to include ISO 9000:1994 text in the QS-9000 third edition standards document expires on Dec. 14, 2006. Beyond that date, ISO/TS 16949:2002 will replace QS-9000,” states the letter signed by T.W. Sidlik, executive vice president of procurement and supply at DaimlerChrysler; Tony Brown, vice president of global purchasing at Ford Motor Co.; and Bo Andersson, vice president of worldwide purchasing, production control and logistics at General Motors Corp.

Essentially, suppliers registered to QS-9000 are strongly urged to upgrade to ISO/TS 16949:2002 at the expiration of their current QS-9000 certification and no later than the final deadline. Suppliers registered to ISO/TS 16949:1999 are required to upgrade prior to the expiration of their current certificate or by Dec. 15, 2004. ISO/TS 16949:1999 is based on the ISO 9000:1994 standard, which is due to expire Dec. 15, 2003. The Dec. 15, 2004 deadline reflects a one-year grace period recognized by the Big Three.

“We’ve found that registration to QS-9000 has not been as effective as we would have liked it to be,” says Hank Gryn, a member of the ISO/TS 16949 International Automotive Task Force and representative of DaimlerChrysler. “We have a completely new registration process in place with stricter requirements for auditors and certification bodies.”

In a separate letter to suppliers, DaimlerChrysler set a July 1, 2004, deadline for its suppliers to switch to the standard, at which time it will no longer accept QS-9000 or any European automotive quality requirements, such as VDA 6.1.

“Some suppliers will look at this as a chance to get a fresh start, and they’ll come out far stronger and better,” says Radley M. Smith, author of The QS-9000 Answer Book (Paton Press) and the co-author of the QS-9000 requirement. “Others will just look at this as the cost of doing business. However, I would be surprised if there’s any drop-off of suppliers who can’t or won’t invest in the transition.”

“The major point behind the decision is the transition to the process approach,” notes Gryn. “It’s a natural upgrade from the old system.” ISO/TS 16949:2002 is aligned with ISO 9001:2000, which replaces the 1994 versions of ISO 9001, 9002 and 9003 and is based on the process approach.

Information regarding the transition can be obtained from the Automotive Industry Action Group at www.aiag.org, the International Automotive Oversight Bureau at www.iaob.org or the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Ltd. at www.smmt.co.uk.

The Professional’s Struggle: Balancing Work and Home Lives

One might think that in this shaky economy professionals are most worried about keeping their jobs. Although this is a primary concern, when asked in a recent survey “What’s your No. 1 concern about your career in 2002?” nearly one-third of the respondents said they’d like to better balance their business and personal demands.

“Recent world events have prompted many people to reassess their priorities and place greater importance on personal pursuits,” says Liz Hughes, executive director of Office Team, a staffing service organization that developed the survey. “As a result, flexible schedules may hold greater appeal than career advancement or increased compensation.”

The survey queried 567 men and women older than 18 years of age and employed full-time in professional environments. While 32 percent of the respondents cited a desire to balance their business and personal lives, 22 percent were most concerned about job security, and 18 percent of the respondents’ top priority is earning a competitive salary. Other concerns include keeping technical skills current and having a greater need for an advanced degree or certification.

Hughes adds that companies that help workers achieve greater work-life balance frequently experience higher productivity and reduced turnover. “Small steps such as additional time off and family-friendly benefits can go a long way toward addressing staff concerns and increasing loyalty to the firm.”

EPA Promotes Environmental Management Systems

The Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator, Christie Whitman, has issued a position statement on environmental management systems. In the statement, Whitman promotes broader use of systems such as ISO 14000 to help companies fulfill their environmental responsibilities.

The EPA has adopted a policy encouraging the use of EMSs across a variety of industries to achieve improved environmental performance and compliance, pollution prevention through source reduction, and continual improvement of environmental practices.

“The EPA will encourage the use of recognized environmental management frameworks, such as the ISO 14001 standard, as bases for designing and implementing EMSs that aim to achieve outcomes aligned with the nation’s environmental policy goals and the principles of this position statement,” Whitman says.

According to the statement, organizations that use environmental management systems are encouraged to acquire stakeholder input and to share information on their EMS’s progress and performance with public and government agencies.

The EPA plans to implement environmental management systems at some of its facilities in an effort to lead by example. In addition, the EPA will work with state and local governments to promote environmental management systems and will support training and research on the costs and benefits of the system. For more information, visit www.epa.gov.

Educators Gather to Discuss Quality Circles in Schools

Gary Convis, president of Toyota USA (rear middle), and Don Dewar, president of QCI International (rear right), awarded a medal to each member of a winning quality circle from the Ryan International School in India.

 

More than 1,000 people from 15 countries gathered during a three-day conference to discuss quality tools in education. Held June 11–13 in Georgetown, Kentucky, the fifth annual International Convention on Students’ Quality Control Circles was hosted by the Scott County Board of Education and co-sponsored by the World Council for Total Quality and Excellence in Education, headquartered in Lucknow, India.

Jagdish Gandhi, president of the World Council, challenged teachers and parents to instill learning principles in their children at a young age. In 1959, Gandhi founded the City Montessori School in Lucknow. Since that time the number of pupils has risen from five to 25,000 and includes students from kindergarten to high-school levels. The school was recently awarded the 2002 Peace Education Prize from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Administrators in the Scott County School District proclaimed June 8–15, 2002, as ICSQCC Week in an effort to motivate local schools to establish student quality control circles. Gandhi was presented with the Georgetown Key to the City by Mayor Everette Varney.

The next ICSQCC will be held in Lucknow in December 2003. For more information, contact Vineeta Kamran at cmsicsqcc@cmsicsqcc.org or visit www.cmsicsqcc.org.

ISO 9000 and 14000 Certifications Surge in 2001

In its eleventh cycle of tracking ISO standards certifications, the International Organization for Standardization reported record levels of ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 certifications in 2001. This development is outlined in The ISO Survey of ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 Certificates, an annual ISO publication.

By December 2001, at least 510,616 ISO 9000 certificates had been issued in 161 countries and economies, an increase of more than 24 percent (101,985 more certificates) from the previous year. It’s the highest reported increase in all 11 cycles of the survey, carried out since January 1993.

Of those ISO 9000 certificates, 44,388 were certificates of conformity to ISO 9001:2000, the single standard developed to replace the 1994 versions of ISO 9001, 9002 and 9003. The revised standard accounts for more than 43 percent of the certificates awarded in 2001 and more than 8 percent of the overall total.

Through December 2001, at least 36,765 ISO 14001 certificates had been awarded in 112 countries or economies, an increase of more than 60 percent (13,868 more certificates) from the previous year. In December 2001, the total stood at 22,897 in 98 countries. This is the highest recorded increase since ISO 14000 certification numbers were added to the survey in December 1995.

Among these findings, the study revealed the following statistics:

ISO 9000

• 269,950 ISO 9000 certificates were issued in 51 countries in Europe, 22,888 of which were ISO 9001:2000.

• 126,779 ISO 9000 certificates were issued in 21 countries in the Far East, 14,434 of which were ISO 9001:2000.

• 50,984 ISO 9000 certificates were issued in North America, 1,887 of which were ISO 9001:2000.

ISO 14000

• 18,243 ISO 14001 certificates were issued in 41 countries in Europe, up from last year’s total of 11,021 in 36 countries.

• 12,796 ISO 14001 certificates were issued in 15 countries in the Far East, up from last year’s total of 7,881 in 14 countries.

• 2,700 ISO 14001 certificates were issued in North America, up from last year’s total of 1,676.

The ISO Survey of ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 Certificates includes country-by-country totals, a list of top six countries for growth in 2001, a list of first-time certified countries, a worldwide breakdown of certificates by industrial sector and a breakdown of withdrawn certificates. It’s available for about $30 as a combined report and CD-ROM from any of ISO’s national member institutes, a complete list of which can be found at www.iso.org.

ASQ Offers Auditor Certification in Biomedical Technology

The American Society for Quality is now offering Certified Quality Auditor—Biomedical certification. The certification is ideal for individuals currently involved in management or conduct of biomedical quality audits or who have a working knowledge of the relevant national and international regulations and standards associated with biomedical quality audits.

The biomedical certification recognizes knowledge of planning, managing, conducting and reporting quality audits in biomedical technology areas, including but not limited to certification of testing laboratories, research-and-development organizations, manufacturing organizations, and equipment service facilities in areas such as medical devices, in vitro diagnostics and biologics.

To be eligible, applicants must be an ASQ Certified Quality Auditor and have two years’ experience working with biomedical auditing. The two-year requirement can be part of the eight-year requirement used for the ASQ CQA exam. The CQA Biomedical examination consists of 100 multiple-choice questions and is offered in English only.

Local ASQ sections and international organizations conduct examinations in March and October. The open-book exam is four hours long. Each participant must bring his or her own reference materials and calculators. For further information and requirements, visit www.asq.org/types/ cqa-bio/index.html or call (800) 248-1946 and request item B1245.

Mark Your Calendars for Customer Service Week

Despite the increasing amount of impersonal buying and selling habits (thanks in part to online shopping), there will always be the need for a personal connection between company and customer. More often than not, customers who aren’t happy or have questions about a recently purchased product prefer to speak to a real person rather than the automated voice that prompts a seemingly endless routine of button-pressing.

That person is the customer service representative. Whether working from a call center or answering questions online, the customer service representative is the direct link between your company and your customers.

Oct. 7–11 marks the 14th annual Customer Service Week celebration, honoring CSRs and recognizing the importance of customer service to a company’s bottom line. The Customer Service Group, an organization that promotes Customer Service Week, has set up a Web site to assist companies that are interested in participating. With one month left, there’s still time to plan a celebration. This year’s theme is “Caring for Customers.” For information about Customer Service Week products and bulletins, visit www.csweek.com.

Planning a Customer Service Week team

• Select a chairperson to lead the project. Either assign the position or ask for volunteers.

• Choose an honorary chairperson. Ask the CEO, president or department head to be an honorary chairperson. Having a CEO take part in the celebration helps send the message that the work customer service representatives do is appreciated.

• Choose captains. Select a person in charge of each celebration activity, such as food and decorating. Or, have individuals be in charge of a single day’s events.

Celebration tips and ideas

• Hold kick-off and wrap-up parties. Invite senior management to discuss the role customer service plays in the company’s success. Wrap up the week with a special lunch or dinner out of the office and away from phones.

• Create a festive atmosphere. Decorate the customer service department with posters, banners and balloons.

• Brag. Customer service week presents a good opportunity to inform the entire company about the work of the customer service department. Compile information on the number of calls handled in a typical week, the dollar value of cross-selling in the past year and positive survey results.

• Hold “Executive on the Phone Day.” Have managers, directors and the president of the company handle incoming calls. Send a letter to customers thanking them for their support. Include a mission statement and photograph of the customer service team.

• Publicize the event. Ask the president or CEO to include an article in the company’s newsletter on the importance of customer service. Answer the phones with “Thank you for calling during Customer Service Week.”

• Acknowledge other departments. Distribute certificates of appreciation and service awards to individuals in other departments who make efforts to meet customers’ needs.

• Hold training sessions. During Customer Service Week, plan a few skill-building workshops.

Accredited Schools Share Quality Projects Online

Higher education organizations interested in improving their processes are invited to view the Action Project Directory, an online documentation of schools’ progress toward accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission. The directory is housed at the Academic Quality Improvement Project’s Web site at www.aqip.org.

Supported by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trust, the Academic Quality Improvement Project assists higher learning institutions in aligning their continuous improvement projects with their reaccreditation efforts. The AQIP process involves working toward improvement through facilitated peer reviews and helping each institution select, critically examine and commit to action projects that drive quality improvement.

The Action Project Directory features information and updates on Higher Learning Commission-accredited schools and their progress toward reaching their re-accreditation goals. The Higher Learning Commission is part of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, serving 19 states. Through commissions, it accredits and thereby grants membership to educational institutions in the North Central region. Learn more at www.ncahigherlearningcommission.org.

Two Metrology Companies Merge

Veeco Instruments Inc. and FEI Co. have signed a merger agreement combining the companies into one 3-D metrology and process equipment company: Veeco FEI Inc.

“This merger has compelling strategic value,” says Vahe A. Sarkissian, chairman of the board and chief strategy officer of Veeco FEI. “We intend to leverage our enriched technology portfolio to accelerate growth and deliver broader product offerings to our customers.”

“Based on combined sales of $825 million in 2001, we will become the sixth-largest U.S. semiconductor equipment company and the third-largest U.S. supplier of metrology equipment,” adds Edward H. Braun, CEO and president of Veeco FEI.

Veeco is a leader in process equipment and metrology tools for the telecommunications/wireless, data storage, semiconductor and research markets. Learn more at www.veeco.com. FEI is a supplier of 3-D structural process management solutions to semiconductor, data-storage, structural biology and industrial industries. More information can be obtained at www.feico.com.

Industry News

Online Handbook Explains Statistical Methods

The National Institute of Standards and Technology and Sematech, a consortium of semiconductor companies, have released the NIST/ Sematech e-Handbook of Statistical Methods, a Web-based guide for professionals who use statistical techniques.

The guide provides an overview of statistical methods, including experimental design, data analysis and quality control. It includes case studies from the semiconductor industry and from NIST laboratories. The Web site also includes links to integrated software packages. The e-handbook is available at www.nist.gov/stat.handbook. It will be available on CD later this year.

Nikon Launches Semiconductor Inspection Group

Nikon Instruments Inc. has formed the Nikon Semiconductor Inspection Technologies Group in an effort to offer more comprehensive service and support to the company’s customer base. Nikon aims at quadrupling its sales and technical support and broadening U.S. distribution of advanced semiconductor inspection products.

The Phoenix-based group will provide training, demonstrations, service application support and direct U.S. sales of semiconductor products. Takashi Tanzawa has been named executive vice president of the group. Tanzawa is the former manager of strategy for Nikon Instruments Co. in Japan. Learn more at www.nikonusa.com.

Mitutoyo Expands Its Web Content

Mitutoyo America Corp. has launched www.mitutoyo.com, which contains enhanced features, including the company’s product catalog, expanded product group information, case studies and a new section that covers technology trends in metrology and manufacturing.

“Something we’re very excited about is WebLink,” says Mark Izumi, Mitutoyo’s media marketing manager. “This is a vehicle that allows our visitors to view a condensed version of our Web site, with the most current news and information, right from their desktop.” WebLink updates itself every time an Internet connection is made.

Quality Applications Institute: Sept. 23–25

The American Society for Quality will host its first Quality Applications Institute, Sept. 22–25 in Milwaukee. Fifteen of ASQ’s most popular training courses have been abridged to highlight the fundamentals of several different quality practices.

QAI will focus on three tracks: improving business performance, quality engineering and statistics, and ISO quality systems.

Event registration is $850 for ASQ and Association for Quality and Participation members and $950 for nonmembers. Student registration is $125. For more information, call (800) 248-1946 and request brochure B1291 or visit www.asq.org/ed/conferences/qai.html.