Training and quality: peas in a pod

According to experts, though the connection can seem distant or indirect, proper training has a clear impact on quality, just as it has a clear impact on every aspect of business.

As business process design and ISO 9001 expert Chris Anderson noted in a blog post on the top ten root causes of business problems, poor training is the number one source of business issues. Two decades of business management led Anderson to place poor training ahead of poor methods, poor employee placement and poor engineering and design on the list.

“People don’t make mistakes,” Anderson insists in the post. “Systems make mistakes.”

And just as product and service quality issues arise from systemic deficiencies, employee performance — and its impact on quality — is correlative to the integrity of training management systems.

Training and quality are best thought of as peas in a pod — inseparable elements that should always be … Read more...

Prevention, training central to Ontario OHS reforms

Ontario is poised to dramatically rework how it manages occupational health and safety.

Earlier this month Bill 160 was amended by the province’s standing committee on social policy and is now headed to the provincial legislature for a third reading and vote, meaning it could be law by as early as June. The proposed bill flows from the work of an expert panel formed in the wake of a string of workplace-related deaths across the province.

Focused on training and prevention, some of the bill’s key elements are as follows:

  • Training standards: The bill would call upon the Minister of Labour to set training program standards and ‘approve’ compliant organizations accordingly.
  • Training provider: In addition to minimum standards for training programs, those who administer training would also be required to achieve “approved training provider” status, though those certified under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act would be automatically approved.
  • Prevention
Read more...

Intelex at first annual Tech ManufactureXPO

 

Intelex is psyched to be participating in the first annual Tech Manufacture XPO all day today, Wednesday, May 4, 2011.

The event is an opportunity for professionals in the manufacturing technology field to connect with experts, watch webinars, listen to speeches and podcasts, and learn about the latest developments, trends, tips and tools in the world of manufacturing tech.

Visitors to the intelex booth have a chance to win an iPod Nano touch 8GB!

Drop by our booth for a chat! We’d love to have you.… Read more...

Milk ain’t oil: EPA sides with common sense

Yes, the line’s been used a hundred times in the past few days, but warrants repeating: U.S. dairy farmers needn’t cry over spilled milk any longer.

Beneath the sound and fury of political arguments over the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) right (nay, duty) to regulate greenhouse gases, the agency quietly sided last week with milk producers and finally exempted milk from oil spill control regulations.

The EPA has long required shippers of oil tanks and containers to develop spill control and prevention plans. Problem was, this included dairy farmers, since milk is defined as oil under the Clean Water Act because it contains animal fat (an oil). The regulations were originally designed for Big Oil, not farmers, but it has taken a few years for the agency to exempt dairy from the Act’s requirements. With the final ruling, milk, milk product containers, and milk production equipment are exempt from Clean … Read more...

Planning for the unforeseeable through supplier evaluation

Having the flexibility to identify, contain, and adapt to foreseeable and unforeseeable issues is critical to a comprehensive response plan for quality nonconformances and product recalls. Proactive, responsible companies that implement comprehensive vendor/supplier/contract manufacturer evaluation programs and performance tracking systems as components of an overall quality management system (QMS) will boost preparedness and ensure smooth responses to otherwise devastating product recall scenarios.

Any business — large companies especially — should select contract manufacturers in the same way they select suppliers and other vendors: with thorough research, hand-on inspection and rigorous screening.

A good way to think of it is this: Treat suppliers, vendors and contract manufacturers as if they are your own facilities. Even if they are not providing you with an end-user product, if your company name is going to be on the final product, your customers will view you as responsible and you will be ultimately accountable for … Read more...

Sustainability as a business opportunity

Thinking of bringing your business to a more sustainable place?

The best starting place for any business leader to embrace sustainability is to shift away from looking at sustainability in terms of how much it will cost, and towards assessing the returns it will generate.

Consider the phenomenon known as the Cost of Poor Quality (COPQ) which emerged in the field of quality management in the late 1980s. COPQ can be thought of as follows: by neglecting the importance of quality, an organization literally pays to generate waste and other problems, often in the form of scraps, reworks, recalls, rejects, reworks, service calls, warranty claims and more. Similarly, in the realm of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability of environmental, social and economic responsibility, organizations essentially commit capital to generate waste. Not a great investment, especially when sustainability actually presents a ton of revenue-generating opportunities.

Since the purview of sustainable … Read more...

Five Ws: Avoiding the nightmare of a product recall

Eggs. Toy trucks. Spinach. Meds. And now walnuts.

Recalls — and not the good kind — are a daily reality within an interconnected, modern global economy. But for the unprepared business, a product recall can be a logistical and PR nightmare, costing significant capital, and precious hours of downtime as well as — perhaps most significantly — irreparable damage to delicately nurtured brand image.

Since consumer activist agencies and public awareness at large tend to be a few steps ahead of legislators and regulatory bodies on public safety concerns, it is imperative businesses stay a few steps ahead of the game. For companies that rely on contract manufacturers, this can be easily achieved with a comprehensive quality management system (QMS).

Some essential questions — often rendered complex by the size and scope of large corporations — can be resolved with straightforward answers if an electronic QMS has been put … Read more...

Fisher minimizes environmental fines by implementing Intelex EMS

Fisher Sand and Gravel, a North Dakota-based aggregate producer, has reached a settlement agreement with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) after claims of air and water quality violation at some of its Arizona operations.

While Fisher received a fine in the settlement, more than half of the funds will not be collected by the ADEQ and instead directed to the implementation of an Intelex-powered Environmental Management System (EMS), which is expected to help the company avoid future violations and boost environmental stewardship. The EMS will feature a continual cycle of planning, implementing, reviewing and improving the actions that Fisher undertakes to meet its business goals, and represents the company’s expanded commitment to environmental stewardship and the public health of the communities it serves.

The whole situation is a reminder of the fact that businesses can reduce the impact of fines by taking steps to proactively … Read more...

Cultivating curiosity: continuous improvement in training management

Many businesses make the mistake of approaching training as a one-time or ad hoc responsibility: employees are trained when they are hired and rarely, if ever, retrained or trained for new competencies.
Businesses cannot adequately embrace the much sought-after ideal of continual improvement until they incorporate continuous training into their business models.

It is essential to establish a training program that helps every employee realize their potential, and in turn helps the business realize its potential. Such programs should be constantly revisited and always altered due to employee, manager and customer feedback. It should be a continuous process.

One aspect of continuous training should be a program that regularly schedules learning sessions with employees to build, develop and diversify their skills and knowhow as they grow with the company.

No discussion of continuous improvement would be complete without reference to W. Edward Deming, the man responsible for quality control and its most critical mechanism, the Plan-Do-Check-Act Read more...

OSHA offers teleconferences to small business on proposed changes to 300 Log

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is looking for your feedback on plans to alter the 300 Log, a form containing details on workplace injuries and illnesses that must be completed by most U.S. businesses on a regular basis.

OSHA wants to restore a column to the log that would require employers to enter details on work-related muscoskeletal disorders (MSD).

Some opponents of the proposal to restore the column have complained that it is actually an attempt to revive an ergonomics standard that was repealed a decade ago. Before then, OSHA’s injury and illness log contained one column that lumped MSDs together with hearing. OSHA had planned on separating the two into separate columns, but the MSD column was removed altogether by 2003. Opponents also claim the new column might place an unnecessary burden on small businesses.

OSHA head Dr. David Michaels has insisted most small businesses won’t need … Read more...