Daily dose of social responsibility updates w/ CSR Minute

Sixty seconds is a minimal investment in exchange for an update regarding corporate social responsibility.  Each daily feature through 3BL Media discusses a general topic or highlights specific corporations and their actions.  Creating an account will get you access to free, customizable and easily accessible information.

“The CSR Minute is 3BLMedia’s daily video digest of the most relevant and timely CSR and Sustainability content all in about a minute. 3BL Media’s own correspondent reports on the latest CSR trends, topics, and of course, breaking news every day.”

Additional resources for CSR that we find useful includes:

Pro QC International provides social audits and has recently written a Feature Article discussing the ISO 26000 guidance documentation.

Why quality, why now?

Why quality?

At the end of the day, successfully incorporating quality into corporate-wide practices will cost you less, not more, and reap some fairly distinguishable benefits, like…

  • A decrease in costs due to less reworking, consequently producing less scrap
  • Social responsibility (they go hand-in-hand)
  • An improvement in productivity due to less time spent on reworking
  • An improvement in cycle time due to less time spent on correcting mistakes and more time being spent on value-added activities
  • A competitive advantage that supports a solid brand and positive public perception
  • Increased employee satisfaction and retention (reduction in costs associated with turnover)
  • An overall improvement in service

Pro QC’s first Feature Article in the quarterly newsletter discussed Determining the Costs of Quality in more detail.

Why now?

Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan once said “consumers, by seeking quality and value, set the standards of acceptability for products and services by voting with their marketplace dollars.”  This is true… and, we know that consumers tighten that flow of marketplace dollars in times of economic uncertainty.

So, the “bang for the buck” is scrutinized. What better time for introspection… for examining processes and figuring out what’s working and what’s not?  It’s a perfect time to reinvest, develop supplier relationships and forge ahead for growth.  It’s a perfect time to tell consumers what you’re about and why they should cast their vote on you!

Acceptance sampling isn’t scary

As it turns out, a significant number of people find the Pro QC site searching for sampling and sampling related terms such as ANSI Z1.4 or MIL-STD-105E  (no longer in use).  In speaking with organizations, I’ve also detected a certain level of fear regarding how to approach an acceptance sampling strategy.

Fear is unnecessary… In fact, sampling here is nothing more than a tool you’re going to use to provide a realistic (of course statistically relevant) assessment of quality and be able to ultimately determine whether or not product is meeting expectations without having to spend the time and money involved with a 100% inspection.  This is a good thing.

Some advice…

Get your specs straight – Before you even start to think about AQLs and defect classifications, go back and make sure you’ve really evaluated your product and have created detailed product specifications.  Once you have this information, go through each item and determine how you want to classify nonconformance (major, minor or critical).  At Pro QC, we use the following general guideline for defect classifications:

  • Critical – Any condition found which poses the possibility of causing injury or harm to, or otherwise endangering the life or safety of, the end user of the product or others in the immediate vicinity of its use.
  • Major – Any condition found adversely affecting the product’s marketability and sale-ability or adversely affecting its required form, fit or function and which is likely to result in the end user returning it to the source from which is was purchased for refund or replacement.
  • Minor – Any condition found which while possibly less than desirable to the end user of the product, does not adversely affect its marketability, sale-ability, form, fit or function and is unlikely to result in its return to the source from which is was purchased.

Special or General? – The ANSI Z1.4 tables show various sample sizes based on lot (batch)  sizes in relation to Special and General levels. Here, you’ll want to go through your spec and determine what would require higher levels (general) of sampling or lower (special).  For example, if you have an electronic product that requires functional testing (need to make sure it turns on maybe), special levels of testing makes sense because it may be considered destructive.  The same goes for drop-testing to determine the packaging integrity.  Time is an obvious important consideration, as it relates to not only cost but to shipment schedules as well.  An example might look like this:

  • Visual (cosmetic/workmanship) inspection – General Level 1
  • Drop-testing (Package integrity ISTA testing) – Special Level 3
  • Functional Testing – Special Level 1

Single or Double? – Pro QC uses ANSI Z1.4 single normal sampling as a standard, but we have had clients request double.  If you look at the tables, you’ll note the difference is simply the number you look at.  So, it goes back to time and cost, but you’re also considering your level of assurance with the supplier in general.  You can look at less with double if the product meets expectations, but you’ll be taking a 2nd full sample set if not.

Know your AQLs – Acceptable Quality Limits are simply “the worst tolerable process average in percentage or ratio, that is still considered acceptable: that is, it is at an acceptable quality level.” To figure out what works best, play around with the numbers… Plug in your average lot sizes and levels and go through the row of scenarios.  What are you comfortable with?  An example might look like this:

  • Major Defects 1.5
  • Minor Defects, 4.0
  • Critical Defects 0.10

Tweak it – Sampling strategy is something that can grow and evolve with your product. As you develop supplier relationships and analyze inspection feedback, you’ll be able to make adjustments as necessary.

Utilize the experts – Of course, a 3rd party quality assurance provider such as Pro QC, can provide you with expert advice and guidance or even evaluate your product and develop the specs/sampling for you.  That both relieves apprehension and leverages expertise.

Note: International and national equivalents of the ANSI Z1.4 2003 standard exist as ISO 2859, NF06-022, BS 6001 and DIN 40080.

Supply chain management basics

I recently stumbled on a series of videos produced by Arizona State University and the W.P Carey School of Business‘ Department of Supply Chain Management (ASU-WPC-SCM) relating to the basics of SCM.  While basic in nature, the series is well organized and appears to piece together SCM quite well.  As a refresher, I think these videos are excellent idea generators.

There are twelve modules, with topics ranging from social responsibility, manufacturing & operations, logistics and metrics.  Module eleven relates to quality management and is quite succinct.

 

Aerosonic’s journey to all things lean…

An open invitation recently went out via the ASQ Tampa-St. Petersburg LinkedIn Group regarding an upcoming APICS meeting that would include a plant tour of Aerosonic Corporation.  I grew up with Aerosonic right around the corner, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to poke around and learn more about they do.

It turns out that Aerosonic Corporation has been making “gizmos for airplanes” for over fifty years.  More specifically, their product lines include integrated cockpit displays, sensors, probes, digital and mechanical standby displays. “With its well-established industry presence, Aerosonic maintains long-standing relationships with nearly every major aircraft manufacturer worldwide.” Personally, I was impressed that one of their products, an altimeter, had over 400 parts.  I can’t even imagine how you would organize production on a custom build piece of equipment like that or what a MRP nightmare it would be!  Unlike most of the production I’ve seen, Aerosonic’s products require a great deal of customization and hands-on craftsmanship.

A few years ago, a fire left the company inoperable for about nine months.  The fire not only destroyed the facility, but it ignited a need for change… and so their lean journey began.  They got serious about making real changes and they started by focusing on what they referred to in the presentation before the tour as “wetware.”  I also learned a little about Training Within Industry (TWI) as they attributed this system with their ability to now tie goals with performance.

During the tour, you could sense that the situation before their lean aspirations was bleak.  They described an organization not unlike many small business that were started with the best of intentions but later experienced difficulties adapting to a more “corporate like” environment.  Change management would prove once again to be the most difficult component of transition.  While top management support certainly came through during the presentation and tour, employee resistance was noted as the most challenging component.

It was interesting to see an organization going through this process of change.  It’s a reminder that although being lean may be an arduous process, the results speak for themselves.  By moving to a cellular layout, communication and overall productivity has improved significantly at Aerosonic. Improving inventory management and incorporating employee ideas and suggestions for productivity improvement has contributed significant gains as well.

I want to thank the local APICS chapter for extending this invitation and Aerosonic for opening their doors and providing an honest and realistic portrayal of the lean journey in action.  They are very fortunate to have such a passionate group of individuals in top management to lead the way!