Lean Article

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

If you have worked in the quality field for anytime at all, you have probably heard of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award—it’s the highest level of national recognition for performance excellence that a U.S. organization can receive. The award focuses on performance in five key areas and it is not easy to achieve the Baldrige award.

The current criteria are very thorough, and implementation is all-encompassing. As you might imagine, the audit is also very thorough. Now, when most people hear, “Baldrige program,” what they think of is, “Baldrige award.” But there's a lot more to the Baldrige Program and it goes way beyond just the award.

“We are just about ready to celebrate our 2018 Baldrige award recipients in a couple weeks,” says Robert Fangmeyer, Director of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. “On April 7, 2019, we will have our annual awards ceremony, the 31st award ceremony for the Baldrige award, and we will be honoring five organizations from four different sectors. That will be followed by our quest for excellence conference which runs from Monday to Wednesday.”

Multiple Authors
By: Stephen Rice, Scott Winter

In the wake of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes of Boeing 737 Max planes, people are thinking about how much of their air travel is handled by software and automated systems—as opposed to the friendly pilots sitting in the cockpit.

Older commercial airliners, such as the Beechcraft 1900, which are still in service mostly as small commuter aircraft, often do not have any autopilot installed. By contrast, modern commercial airliners have automated systems that can augment or even replace pilots’ performance, managing engine power, controlling and navigating the aircraft, and in some cases, even completing landings.


A flight simulator program shows how a plane can help land itself.

Doug Devereaux’s picture

By: Doug Devereaux

Artificial intelligence (AI) is widely acknowledged as a crucial aspect of what is broadly referred to as Industry 4.0. Although no one knows yet how AI will be incorporated into the next phase of the Industrial Revolution, most agree that it will allow greater connectivity between people, machines, and information technology, allowing manufacturers to better optimize processes and predict problems.

How are small and medium-sized manufacturers, which typically don’t have the time or capital it would take to test emerging technologies, supposed to evaluate how AI could impact their organization—and play a role in preparing them for Industry 4.0?

Waiting for the manufacturing sector to decide, so to speak, is certainly not an option. A delay of one, two, or five years could cause a manufacturer to be left behind. The time to act is now, but the path forward isn’t clear.

One way to address this is to evaluate AI through an ongoing transformation that many small and medium-sized manufacturers have already embraced: lean manufacturing.

Gwendolyn Galsworth’s picture

By: Gwendolyn Galsworth

For me, the operational essence of the leader dilemma is this: How do I say “yes” to the few and “wait” to the many? How do I decide?

The so-called “natural-born leader” is a mysterious (to some, controversial) concept: an individual for whom achievement, direction, and drive seem to come effortlessly, as if destiny eases the way. Winston Churchill comes to mind. His leadership and his victory seem inevitable—in hindsight. But read his Memoirs of World War II (Houghton Mifflin Co., Reprint, 1991), even in the 700-page abridged edition, and you will see a man struggling to balance impossible competing priorities with the lives of nations and their societies hanging in the balance.

Still, we can never get close enough to disentangle the pressing realities of the moment from history’s acclaim. Leaders of Churchill’s time and tradition were not self-confessional. They revealed a great deal about their accomplishments as leaders—but little of the stuff and substance of their predicament. That makes it hard for us to draw parallels to leadership today. We are simply glad they prevailed.

Tom Taormina’s picture

By: Tom Taormina

Outsourcing is historically one of the most misunderstood concepts in quality management system (QMS) implementation and operation. Prior to ISO 9001:2015, the requirement for outsourced processes was limited to a few sentences in the standard’s clause 4.1. This article will present, through a case study, how understanding the implications that outsourcing, according to ISO 9001, is of key importance for a company.

Some history

ISO 9001:2008 clause 4.1 was so vague that a guidance document was needed. It was the subject of so many interpretations that Technical Committee (TC) 176 of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published guidance document ISO TC/176 SC 2/N 630R2—“Guidance on outsourced processes.”

The most impactful guidance from that publication was the definition that an outsourced process is one that the organization may conduct internally but has chosen to subcontract the work to an outside organization. It also states that the company must exhibit the same level of control over outsourced processes as it would over processes within its own QMS.

Mark Rosenthal’s picture

By: Mark Rosenthal

The spring and summer of 2000 were a long time ago, but I learned some lessons during those months that have stayed with me. In fact, the learning from that experience is still happening as I continue to connect it to things I see today.

I was a member of a team working hard to stand up a new production line of a new product. The rate pressures were very high, the production, production control, and quality processes were immature.

At a high level, the parts flow was supposed to work like this:

Steel parts are fabricated and welded, based on the production schedule for various configurations.

Unit sets of parts were sent to outside paint. (We didn’t have our own paint system yet.) In reality, unit sets would be broken up as some parts went to sister plants, others went to outside vendors, each with their own lead times and flow times.

Parts return from outside paint. Because of the different vendors and lead times, different parts arrive on different days.

Zac Cooper’s picture

By: Zac Cooper

The role of quality starts with product design and moves rapidly across the supply chain to the selling and buying experience, which includes the bidding process. When operating a formal continuous process improvement program, nearly all manufacturing engineers are tasked with some level of quality and agree that often the old methods for bidding on projects is deeply deficient. In this article we will look at one way to ensure the bidding process includes all stakeholders so that a company can manufacture what the customer wants, guarantee that the customer gets what they asked for, and that everyone is satisfied with the outcome.

Eric Cooper’s picture

By: Eric Cooper

Due dates. Whether it’s building a house or implementing an enterprise quality management software (QMS) solution, everyone has them, everyone wants them. What does home construction have to do with going live with a new QMS solution? There are actually quite a few similarities.

Create realistic build time expectations

Houses come in all different shapes and sizes, each with different variations and features. The same can be said about enterprise QMS software. While there might be base out-of-the-box solutions, just like a spec home, they might not come close to what you really need. The big difference, however, is in how people view due dates with regards to building a home. A house is a physical product that needs construction workers pounding nails and electricians pulling wires. Therefore, people have a better understanding that it takes time to physically build a house and what factors contribute to delays. With software though, the construction phase is often misunderstood and unrealistic implementation timelines are set.

There are three considerations for establishing a QMS implementation timeline

Mike Richman’s picture

By: Mike Richman

Happy New Year one and all! For our first QDL of 2019, we were pleased to present some thought-provoking content on the benefits of compromise, the dangers of rhetorical trickery, and the meaning of Chekhov’s gun. Let’s take a closer look:

Ripped from the headlines

Can’t anyone here get along? The new year is starting out just like the old one, with plenty of dysfunction and finger-pointing in Washington. In this segment looking at news headlines, it’s clear that an inability to compromise is affecting not only governance but global trade, too. So what can we all do to get along with each other just a little bit better?

“Protect Yourself From Verbal Sleight of Hand”

Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest’s picture

By: Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest

We tied up last year in a neat little bow, talking about how stories define ourselves and our work; waste is waste, no matter your political leanings; and putting numbers from the news in context.

“The Gift of Being Small”

This article by Quality Digest’s Taran March wonderfully illustrates how we, and everything we do, is influenced by our “story”—our history up to the current moment.

“ISO 14001, ISO 50001 Benefit the Environment and the Bottom Line”

No matter your views on global warming, you can't escape the fact that waste is waste. If it goes up the stack, into the water, or piles up in a corner, it’s causing harm... at least to the bottom line.

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