What Can We Learn from the Organizational Cultures of Different Industries?

Many industries have no clear boundary between safety and quality culture. In fact, they are often very closely integrated. Quality failures and nonconformances that require rework have been correlated with increased accidents and recordable injury rates in manufacturing organizations. These injuries are frequently the result of fatigue, workplace pressure, and the pressure from extra work due to quality failures.

Among the important collective of people, processes, and tools, people are the primary point of failure in increasingly automated systems. Unlike machines, we are subject to fatigue, information overload, and stress that can have a serious impact on our ability to work safely and efficiently. However, people are also the place where dynamic sensemaking, decision-making, and situational awareness reside, which are vital ingredients in complex and high-reliability organizations (HRO).

Culture is therefore an integral element of every organization. In the new Intelex Insight Report Integrating Quality and Safety in Organizational Culture: Read more...

10 Tips for Effective FMEAs

The Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) can reduce or eliminate failure costs and protect against errors by illuminating issues before they arise. The technique can be used to design products or services, the production processes that deliver them, or to improve prototypes or existing processes.

What practices should you adopt to promote a robust FMEA process? Here are some to start with:

  1. Decide on a scope for the FMEA exercise before you begin. Will it pertain to one process, subprocess, part or product? Will it be unique to one site or facility, or can it be applied to many? Defining a scope can make the deliberation process easier.
  2. Start the FMEA process as early as possible. Don’t wait to explore risks and risk management approaches until designs are fixed, and the assets to support a production process and procured and installed. It’s easier to make error-preventing changes
Read more...

Culture Of Quality: Achieving Transformational Success

Technology can solve many problems. As business and consumer technology becomes cheaper and more powerful, it’s easy to think that simply purchasing a new platform or application is all we need to do to ensure revolutionary increases to our productivity. With software-as-a-service (SaaS) becoming the standard approach to implementing software, it’s also easier to use and distribute technology across the organization than ever before.

Yet technology is not a magic wand we can wave around to achieve innovation or transformational success. Organizations are more than just collections of tools for measuring production methods, and simply collecting process data doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to compete effectively in the marketplace. It’s only when tools come together with processes and people to produce a true culture of quality that organizations will be able to implement a quality management system that will drive operational excellence.

For a culture of quality to flourish, … Read more...

What is Data Governance and Why Do You Need It?

Improving product and process quality requires that organizations make data-driven decisions about when, how much, and how often to adjust aspects of operations.

This means the data has to be available and accurate! Unfortunately, information often is siloed, living in Word docs and Excel files, and although that data might be on a publicly accessible network, finding it and knowing whether it will meet your needs can be impossible.

Busting silos and encouraging collaboration facilitates systems integration and leads to better decisions — ones that save time, money and effort while capturing valuable opportunities for growth and improvement. A solid plan for data governance — strategic, high-level planning and control for data management tasks.

A data governance framework essentially is a quality management system for data. Setting one up is an essential part of planning for Quality 4.0 for large enterprises or other organizations that are drowning in data.… Read more...

Quality Architecture in SPC & FMEA: Use Strategic Systems Thinking and Core Tools to Get the Outcomes You Want

Even though most businesses have invested in quality management and performance improvement, each organization is unique. People, processes, and machines must be coordinated to achieve desired outcomes. This is not easy! Whether you’re in discrete manufacturing, a process industry, or a service environment, it’s likely that you face challenges like:

  • Variability in customer satisfaction and experience
  • Resource constraints that impact quality and performance
  • Inconsistent and/or inefficient processes
  • Availability, reliability, and timeliness of information for decision-making
  • Effectively prioritizing tasks and activities
  • Organizational silos that reduce the speed and quality of decision-making

Furthermore, you may have more visionary goals like promoting sustainability throughout your environmental, health, and safety functions (NAEM, 2016), or promoting sustainability in the supply chain. (NAEM, 2018) It’s hard to pursue these things when there are problems getting in the way of customer satisfaction, occupying the time of your managers and your staff.

Quality management is not just about … Read more...

What’s Your Quality 4.0 Strategy?

In ISO 9001:2015, quality is the “degree to which a set of inherent characteristics of an object fulfils requirements.” (3.6.2) Quality 4.0 describes the technological innovations that will help us more quickly assess compliance and customer satisfaction and optimize business processes through systems integration — whether the object we’re working with is a process, a product, a person or an intelligent software system.

Quality 4.0 systems are:

  • Connected— electronic, networked, and capable of communicating in real time with people and systems.
  • Intelligent— autonomous, reactive, proactive, social and/or adaptive to new data or new environmental conditions.
  • Automated — able to carry out instructions with or without human participation.

As a result, Quality 4.0 strategies emphasize real-time visibility, intelligent decision support, and improved communication — between people, systems and machines.

For example, Nikon’s recently announced Quality 4.0 strategy focuses on real-time measurement: improving and automating measurement systems, automating inspections and … Read more...

Uncovering Opportunities with a Risk-Based Mindset in Quality

Quality management is more than it appears to be. While many see it as being about meeting specifications and creating processes that don’t fail, it’s also about enhancing performance by helping people and machines work together more easily and efficiently. Sometimes this means putting controls in place to prevent losses and waste. At other times it means identifying opportunities for improvement and growth. Knowing how to act on those opportunities comes from managing risk.

Risk is not simply the potential for negative outcomes. It’s really the effect of uncertainty on outcomes. Organizations are exploring risk every time they engage with the idea of uncertainty or try to anticipate anything that could prevent them from achieving their objectives. When organizations make decisions that put them closer to their goals, they are successfully engaging with, and addressing, risk.

Risk therefore considers the uncertainty in both threats and opportunities. Risk-based thinking can be … Read more...

World Quality Day 2018: A Question of Trust

Each year, the second Thursday of November is set aside to reflect on the way quality management can contribute to our work and our lives. Led by the Chartered Quality Institute (CQI) in the United Kingdom, World Quality Day provides a forum to reflect on how we implement more effective processes and systems that positively impact KPIs and business results — and celebrate outcomes and new insights.

This year’s theme is “Quality: A Question of Trust.”

We usually think of quality as an operations function. The quality system (whether we have quality management software implemented or not) helps us keep track of the health and effectiveness of our manufacturing, production, or service processes. Often, we do this to obtain ISO 9001:2015 certification or achieve outcomes that are essential to how the public perceives us, like reducing scrap, rework and customer complaints.

But the quality system encompasses all the ways we Read more...

Your Data is Your Most Valuable Asset: Getting Started with Quality 4.0

Data science and machine learning have surged in prominence over the past few years, and digital transformation seems to be on everyone’s agenda. Have you ever wondered why? Even though quality engineering has long been a data-driven pursuit, we now have the potential to get even deeper insights from our data because of several recent innovations:

  1. Computing power per dollar has increased steadily (e.g. through adoption of GPUs).
  2. Open-source software packages with powerful machine learning algorithms are freely available, reliable, robust, and well-maintained.
  3. Infrastructure for data storage and management is readily available and cost-effective.
  4. Cloud-based software, platforms, and infrastructure helps companies focus on their core competencies and scale rapidly when needed.
  5. Algorithms are often more revealing when Big Data is available.

It’s easy and cheap to collect data but using it to generate actionable insights can be more challenging. Think, for example, about the digital displays available to a production … Read more...

Quality Management Tools for Enabling Customer Relationships

In February 2002, the United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, uttered the following infamous phrase:

“There are known-knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known-unknows, that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown-unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek’s clever rejoinder fills in the obvious missing element and demonstrates the secret wisdom of Rumsfeld’s analysis:

“…What he forgot to add was the crucial fourth term: the ‘unknown knowns,’ the things that we don’t know that we know.”

When it comes to knowing what customers want, we could learn a lot from Rumsfeld and Žižek. Sometimes customers know what they want and how to articulate it; sometimes they know what they want but not how to articulate it. Even more difficult to understand is when customers don’t … Read more...