Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

At the Shorewood Packaging Midland Avenue facility in Toronto, real-time information helps yield world-class lean manufacturing results. Shorewood Packaging is part of International Paper, which has operations in more than 40 countries and sells its products in more than 120 nations. Shorewood Packaging has three plants in Ontario, Canada, and is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of premium packaging. The company could identify machines that were ahead or behind in productivity through key performance measurements, but these numbers weren’t relevant to machine operators. Management needed to find a way to provide relevant information to operators and give them the ability to set efficiency goals on a per-job basis.

A. P. Porter’s default image

By: A. P. Porter

The quality of my telephone experience has deteriorated over the years. As a teenager, I spent hours on the telephone when being on the phone meant being tethered to a wall. High-tech was a 25-foot cord. If I called a friend, he’d only answer if he were at home. If someone was on the telephone when I called, I’d hear the same busy signal we hear now.Telephone services have come a long way. I used to have an answering machine that functioned between the telephone and the wall jack. When I’d come in after work or play, I would know from across the room and in the dark if I had messages because a light on the box would flash. The machine would show me how many messages I had. I could hear my messages by pushing a button.

Quality Digest’s picture

By: Quality Digest

American Airlines’ CEO Gerard J. Arpey’s letter to the editor (Quality Digest, January 2006) shows exactly why the U.S. airline industry is in trouble: “We carry about a quarter of a million people every day,” writes Arpey. “Inevitably, there will be mistakes that impact our customers.” Nowhere does he even mention the idea of doing closed-loop corrective action to discover the root cause of the problems, as discussed by James Harrington in his columns, “A Crash Landing for Airline Service Quality” (October 2005) and “Lost in the Service Quality Void” (November 2005). Harrington’s columns, in fact, are examples of the common-sense principle that Henry Ford described in My Life and Work (1922): “If the machine does not give service, then it is better for the manufacturer if he never had the introduction, for he will have the worst of all advertisements—a dissatisfied customer.”

Craig Cochran’s picture

By: Craig Cochran

Last year I had the good fortune of doing some consulting with B&C Specialty Products in Hopeulikit, Georgia. B&C does light manufacturing, primarily plastic molding and assembly, and they distribute imported products produced by companies in the Far East. They have about 150 employees and are by far the biggest employer in Hopeulikit. B&C was a perfect place to learn about managing and quality. Every day presented a new lesson. Here’s another good one: Take customer complaints seriously. The following scenario is described by the people who actually lived it.

—Kim Kimber , customer service supervisor

“I hate to say it, but we get quite a few nuisance complaints. In other words, the customer says there’s a problem, but there’s nothing we can actually address in a constructive way. The customer is venting—nothing more. Complaints like these are just part of our day, and we take them in stride. The complaints we get are usually triggered by one of two things: business slowdowns and/or price increases. If it’s not one, it’s almost always the other.

Esteve Garriga’s picture

By: Esteve Garriga

The 2005+ approach is the system established to characterize and winnow the applicants for the 2006 European Award. Formerly instituted as the European Quality Award, this year it will be designated the 2006 EFQM European Award.The 2005+ approach doesn’t represent a change in the reference and tools to be used for the assessment—which is similar to the 2003 versions of the EFQM Excellence Model and the RADAR Scoring Matrix—nor of the output obtained (i.e., the feedback report). The changes involve how information will be submitted to the assessors and how the assessment process will be performed.

This new approach aspires to reduce the burden of a 75-page application document, allowing applicants to provide their information in a more friendly way, sometimes even using existing documents. This new document dynamic has decreased individual off-site work and given more weight to the team’s on-site tasks through the senior management team meeting and the site visit.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

Manufacturing products produces waste that ranges from overproduction, waiting time, and transportation costs to overprocessing, excess inventory, unnecessary motion and scrap. By eliminating these wastes, production time and cost of goods sold (COGS) are reduced, and quality is improved. COGS reduction is one of the fundamental drivers of a lean manufacturing initiative. Used to measure the ongoing success of lean manufacturing, it fundamentally captures material, labor, overhead and tooling costs. However, COGS reduction shouldn’t be thought of as a phase in a lean manufacturing process initiative.

If lean manufacturing initiatives are reducing COGS, manufacturers must be able to accurately measure and manage costs in real time. Only real-time, predictive cost estimates can reliably be used to validate lean initiative decisions and guide corrective actions throughout all the processes of engineering, planning and production, sourcing, quality control, program management and production delivery.

John Geary’s default image

By: John Geary

The challenge of responding to the threat of cheap offshore labor isn’t new to North American businesses. Nearly a hundred years ago, Henry Towne wrote about the need for increased efficiency and productivity in a foreword to Frederick Winslow Taylor’s 1911 paper, “Shop Management”:

"We are justly proud of the high wage rates which prevail throughout our country, and jealous of any interference with them by the products of the cheaper labor of other countries. To maintain this condition, to strengthen our control of home markets, and, above all, to broaden our opportunities in foreign markets where we must compete with the products of other industrial nations, we should welcome and encourage every influence tending to increase the efficiency of our productive processes."

Efforts to improve management efficiency over the past century have often focused on the reduction of waste, which is defined as processes and resources that represent direct costs and opportunity costs, but don’t add any value.

Craig Cochran’s picture

By: Craig Cochran

Last year I had the good fortune of doing some consulting with B&C Specialty Products in Hopeulikit, Georgia. B&C does light manufacturing, primarily plastic molding and assembly, and they also distribute imported products produced by companies in the Far East. They have about 150 employees and are the biggest employer by far in Hopeulikit. B&C was a perfect place to learn about managing and quality. Every day presented a new lesson. Usually, the lessons were hard-learned, but those are the ones that really stick with you. B&C was gracious enough to allow me to interview their personnel about things that came up during my time there. Here is the first lesson: Always check references and backgrounds before hiring somebody. The following scenario is described by the people who actually lived it.

—J. T. Ryan, president
"I thought Henry was a pretty good guy. He came into the interview so positive and enthusiastic that I couldn’t help liking him. Besides having a good attitude, he actually seemed to know something about our kind of business. Henry had done a little work at a similar outfit in Newnan, Georgia. His work record wasn’t perfect, but we were dying for decent people, particularly in the shipping department.

Denis Leonard’s default image

By: Denis Leonard

I developed and validated quality management diagnostic profiles through research conducted on 77 companies. These profiles are just one in a suite of strategic and dynamic tools that recognize that quality management is dynamic, complex in nature and can’t be easily represented in a sequential or linear manner as described by current models. Five elements make up the quality management diagnostic profiles (see Figure 1):
1. Lack of senior management commitment
2. Lack of operational influence
3. Ineffective tactical translation of strategy
4. Middle management isolation
5. Need to increase deployment consistency

Figure 1

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

Kanban, e-kanban and digital kanban aren’t the same. Kanban is a Japanese term that means "signal." It’s one of the primary tools of just-in-time (JIT) systems. It signals a cycle of replenishment for production and materials, and it should maintain an orderly and efficient flow of materials throughout the entire manufacturing process. Until the development of e-kanban, kanban was usually a printed card that contained specific information such as part name, description or quantity. Production control managers are discovering the limitations of a manual card kanban system. At its best, an integrated digital kanbanbrings high-volume production under control, cuts inventory by half and links data across locations.

When a kanban system is purely manual, cards are placed on products when they come in, pulled as the items are used and then put back in the receiving area to be recycled for new shipments. Deciding what to order and granting a release are based on counting the pulled cards, and this process can be frustrating.

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