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The Value in ISO 9001

“Making the Most Out of ISO 9001” (Pam Parry, December 2007) is excellent. Many in industry take ISO 9001 for granted, but the standard does help companies and their customers, and each company should gain improvement over time. I have been in the ISO 9001 world for several years, and companies do appreciate the benefits--but it takes time receive such benefits.

To many, ISO 9001 is a document exercise. This may be true in the beginning, but each company should begin to realize the benefits of ISO 9001 from many sources, as identified in this excellent article.

----Ed Gardner


Unleaded Christmas

What a wonderful list for Santa (“My Christmas Wish,” Bill Kalmar, QualityInsider, http://qualitydigest.com/IQedit/QDarticle_text.lasso?articleid=12431)! The only thing you forgot to tell Santa was how he can afford to buy your “Made in USA” toys with his limited budget. I agree that China doesn’t know the meaning of quality, and they provide cheap prices. I also know that no one can compete with the quality of our “Made in USA” products, which often come with higher price tags. So who can solve our dilemma? We have to remember the root cause of why we went to China; productivity and high profits.

--Laila Iskander


Hold the lead and pass me a U.S.-made product. It’s time to get back to our manufacturing expertise.

--Phil Moore


I agree with you about China’s perception of quality, but we painted ourselves into this corner when we looked for a cheaper way to do things and gave China our business. We should have tried to become more cost conscious here and kept our business in the United States.

--Carol Rice


Chinese Problems Exaggerated?

Mexico does indeed have more quality alerts than China, but the fact that Mexican products are also suspect hardly vindicates China (“Chinese Quality Dangers Are Exaggerated,” Peter A. Quinter, QualityInsider, http://qualitydigest.com/IQedit/QDarticle_text.lasso?articleid=12469). Furthermore, it’s not just the defects that destroy confidence; it’s learning of the efforts made to conceal known problems. Given the pattern of cover-ups that we’ve seen, one might wonder how many worrisome threats still remain hidden, whether in our cars or on our dinner plates.

More resources should go toward finding and containing products likely to do the most harm to the most people. Focusing on those trade partners with the worst track record in that regard is a reasonable approach. As for fear of a trade war with China, it can hardly be called a war when one side rolls over in submission, as the United States has done in the face of dumping and currency manipulation. Favoring trading partners who play by the same rules is not unreasonably punitive to those who disregard their trade agreements.

--Jason Hoath


I’m quite sure that Mr. Quinter did not intend to try and minimize the China recall situation, but that’s exactly how it came across: Don’t worry about what’s coming from China because they aren’t the only ones who blatantly disregard our rules. Send anything you want and most of it will get through.

What Mr. Quinter did not emphasize was that the majority of products being recalled from China are things for our children.

--Robert Napoletano


At first, I tended to side with the media stories regarding the recalls, until I read this article and realized that the media exists to draw an audience to sell advertising. Sensational journalism sells. They would do well to give a complete perspective of the percentages of products recalled, by country and product type, before writing sensational articles.

The other side of the story, however, is that it is the height of folly for U.S. companies to allow foreign suppliers and subsidiaries to ship products to our ports, much less put them on our store shelves, before having independent, third-party certification. Did we learn nothing from Deming and Crosby?

--D. L. Mason


Mug Someone Today

I just finished Scott Paton’s editorial “Mugged!” (“Quality Curmudgeon,” December 2007). The message touches home for me and I am certain it does for others. I’ve been in manufacturing all my life, but in quality for just five years now and not formally trained. I did manage to learn bad habits through observation, but your article is an eye-opener and I am now going to teach myself some “church style” mugging

--David Mahen


Mr. Paton poses a good challenge: to make quality standards, and the organization’s implementation of them, accessible and readable by the rest of the company. However, this relationship between quality professionals and the rest of the organization is a two-way street. I’ve been in companies where audits were scheduled in advance and information made available, but then the auditees rescheduled or skipped out and did not avail themselves of the available materials.

The organization shapes the mugger, just as Deming argued that about 95 percent of problems are systemic. So before asking ourselves what kind of mugger we are, we have to ask ourselves: Is quality important to senior management?

--Tom Hopper