Volkswagen Dieselgate and the Culture of Quality

In early 2014, the International Council on Clean Transportation began working with researchers at West Virginia University’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines, and Emissions (CAFEE) to follow up on reported discrepancies in the emissions of Volkswagen diesel vehicles. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) had previously subjected the vehicles to rigorous emissions testing in the laboratory, and the vehicles had all passed with no indication of any problems. The CAFEE researchers did their emissions test in the field and produced some very different results.[i]

The researchers discovered that when operating in the real world, the vehicles produced emissions that fell far outside the limits allowed for diesel vehicles to be certified in the United States. After more testing, the researchers discovered a sophisticated software application that used environmental data from the vehicle, such as the absence of movement from the steering wheel, to determine when the vehicle was being … Read more...

Quality in the Automotive Industry

Each industry will have different interpretations of the concept of Quality and how to prioritize its tenets within their own field of practice, expertise and work experience. Perhaps the best fundamental principle is the definition of Quality given by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills requirements where a requirement is a need or expectation.” This look at the Automotive sector is one in a series of blogs that provides a quick look at how the concept of Quality applies in different industries.

Automotive quality dates to Henry Ford’s vision of mass-produced vehicles that a trained workforce could rapidly assemble with consistency and precision. Today, automotive quality reflects three principles:

  • Quality in Product means the ability of the vehicle to fulfill its expected functions and behavior, such as engine efficiency, product features and environmental exhaust standards.
  • Quality in Production means

Put people – not profits – first, and other lessons learned from visiting Toyota

Auto Manufacturing Line

In late November, a group of Intelex employees made the 100-kilometer trek from Toronto to Cambridge, Ont. to the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC) Inc. plant. The highly cross-functional team included members from Sales, Marketing, Consulting and Implementation, Sales Engineering, Customer Engagement, Customer Success, and Product Management. We wanted to gain insight, first-hand, into the activities within a world-class automotive manufacturing company that exemplify an integrated EHSQ management system – before the impending holiday season and 2018 bomb cyclone made headlines!

The team prepared extensively for the tour. We wanted to maximize our learning while on site and help retain this information long-term. We looked at the history of Toyota to discover why it had become so successful and capable of producing award- winning quality products, while exceeding customer expectations. We learned that each vehicle manufactured at Toyota’s TMMC plant goes through over 4,800 quality checks before leaving the facility! … Read more...

NIOSH New Safety Study, World’s First Solar Powered Airport and More!

On this week’s edition of EHS This Week we’ve got the week’s top stories in environment, health and safety news:

  • World’s first Solar Powered Airport
  • NIOSH new oil and gas worker safety study.
  • Automakers to Making Automatic Emergency braking a standard feature
  • Manitoba Trucking Association Launches Safety initiative

Remember to write us with your suggestions, questions and comments. Also, if you are an industry expert and ever want to take part in the program, we’d love to have you. Until next week, enjoy the program!

EHS This Week Resources

For more information on the stories and resources mentioned in this week’s podcast, check out the links below.

  • Oil and Gas Worker Safety Study. Click here
  • World’s first Solar Powered Airport.Click here
  • Automakers Commit to Automatic Emergency Braking. Click here
  • Manitoba Trucking Association Launches Safety Initative . Click here

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to Read more...

Automakers Improve Average Initial Quality Rating

J.D. Power released its 2015 U.S. Initial Quality StudySM (IQS) on June 17.  The annual study examines consumer experience within the first 90 days of ownership determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100). This year’s study shows a 3 percent year-over-year improvement in initial quality for the automotive industry, with an average 112 PP100 in 2015 compared to an average of 116 PP100 in 2014.

Korean automakers further distinguished themselves from the pack as Hyundai Motors and Kia Motors received top marks, with Kia leading all non-premium brands in initial quality for the first time in IQS history. This was an especially painful blow to rival Japanese brands who fell below industry average for the first time in 29 years. Renee Stephens, VP of U.S. automotive quality at J.D. Power addressed this trend in a recent interview with Forbes, calling this “a clear shift Read more...

Meet an Intelex Client: John Whatley, Flex-N-Gate

John is an Environmental Health & Safety Facilitator for Flex-N-Gate, one of America’s largest private companies. With 52 facilities scattered throughout the Americas and Europe, Flex-N-Gate manufactures high quality products and systems for the automotive industries. In this video, John discusses what makes Intelex stand out from the competition.

Meet an Intelex Client: John Whatley – Flex N Gate from Intelex Videos on Vimeo.

“We had existing systems that were becoming obsolete for our quality management systems and environmental, health and safety,” says John, who works out of Windsor, Ontario. The decision process that led Flex-N-Gate to choose Intelex over the other options on the market was thorough. “We looked at all of them,” John claims, “and we chose Intelex because it was the most intuitive.”

John emphasizes that ease of user adoption was a high priority, for him as an Intelex system administrator and for the company as … Read more...

Meet an Intelex Client: Blair Howell, Subaru

Blair is the Environmental, Health and Safety Assistant Manager for Subaru Canada. A well-known name in the automotive industry, Subaru first began using Intelex at their manufacturing facility in the United States. At the time, Subaru was working towards ISO 14001 certification and they needed a system that would help them achieve their environmental goals. According to Blair, “Intelex was by far the best application and system out there.”

Meet an Intelex Client: Blair Howell – Subaru from Intelex Videos on Vimeo.

Working out of Mississauga, Ontario, Blair has found that for him the most beneficial tool has been the training application. Previously, Subaru experienced difficulty tracking training and both management and employees had a hard time understanding training requirements and schedules.

“Before we were in a folder system,” Blair says. “Employees had a really difficult time identifying where all this information was located.” By centralizing their data, Intelex … Read more...

Distracted Driving Kills: Find Out What You Can Do As An Employer

The National Safety Council (NSC) is promoting awareness of the consequences of distracted driving this month with slogans such as “Hands-Free Is Not Risk-Free” and “On the Road, Off the Phone.”

April was formally introduced to the United States as Distracted Driving Awareness Month back in 2010. There have been initiatives across Canada as well, including an RCMP campaign launched in British Columbia this past February. Yet wherever you are and whatever month you choose to review the statistics, they aren’t good. So what can we do, as individuals and employers, to reduce distracted driving?

Understand the Risk

At the time of writing the National Safety Council estimates that in this year alone 325,389 crashes in the United States have involved drivers using cell phones and texting. To put it another way, one crash approximately every 24 seconds.

Texting while driving increases the risk of a crash by 23 times, … Read more...

AIHA outlook on coming safety priorities, cancer rates in the automotive plastics industry and more on EHS This Week

On this week’s edition of EHS This Week we’ve got the week’s top stories in environment, health and safety news:

  • The AIHA outlook on the biggest safety priorities of the coming years.
  • A study on the linkage between breast cancer rates and workers in the automotive plastics industry.
  • An innovative land conservation program out of Scotland, and more.

Remember to write us with your suggestions, questions and comments at Also, if you are an industry expert and ever want to take part in the program, we’d love to have you. 

Until next week, enjoy the program!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.Read more...

What is an OSHA 300 Log and Do you Need One?

Many businesses across the U.S. are well-acquainted with OSHA Form 300 logs, reports generated on a monthly (300) and annual (300A) basis that list all work-related injuries and illnesses.

While hundreds of thousands of businesses are currently bound to report, there is a long list of industries that have been exempt from reporting.

But all that is poised to change.

If a proposed rulemaking becomes law, many previously exempt industries will be required to report workplace injuries and illnesses in accordance with Form 300 and 300A requirements. Dozens of industries (including bakeries, automotive dealers, performing arts companies, and many more) would be affected by the expanded regulation. That said, some organizations that have previously been required to report may not have to. Check out the highly useful OSHA Law Blog for a complete list.

While completing these logs can be a tedious, time-consuming process with a lot of paperwork, well-prepared … Read more...