A Case Study In Quality Improvement - Etcetera
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A Case Study In Quality Improvement - Etcetera

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A Case Study In Quality Improvement - Etcetera

A Case Study In Quality Improvement - Etcetera

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A Case Study In Quality Improvement - Etcetera A Case Study In Quality Improvement - Etcetera Document Transcript

  • ETCETERA, INC. A Case Study In Quality Improvement by D. L. Kimbler, Ph.D., P.E. Department Of Industrial Engineering Clemson University Copyright D. L. Kimbler 1991. All Rights Reserved.
  • 1. Introduction Etcetera, Inc. is a manufacturer of specialty key tags. They have a product line of metal and plastic key tags, some of which have standard symbols and messages; some items may be customized. Their primary market is college book stores and similar off-campus stores, and they produce their standard products with symbols for this market. Custom products have standard symbols with additional messages; these are typically purchased by campus organizations to promote or commemorate special events. The company has been in business for 15 years, and has been moderately successful. There are 175 employees, 120 of whom are in production or production-related jobs. The company has grown steadily over the years. It has developed a reputation among its major customers for timely delivery and good products at a reasonable cost. The company had $8,000,000 in gross sales last year, an all-time high. The company is a family-owned business, but is considering converting to an employee stock ownership plan. There are rumors that the president and major owner is considering retiring within the next few years. The owners of Etcetera are considering diversifying into a less capital- intensive mode. While their market has been good, they would like to hedge their investments. They have selected desktop publishing as a service to provide to the same market they now serve. This would involve publishing things such as newsletters, promotional publications, and small books that could be produced at low cost and sold profitably in small quantities. They expect their customers would be student organizations and small colleges that do not operate their own presses. This diversification would be less equipment intensive than their present product line, and would take advantage of their existing marketing network. This company is at a crossroads, and the management seems to recognize it. They are considering both expansion and major reorganization. They are also becoming concerned with competition. Since the product line involves relatively simple technology, it is certainly possible that competitors could become a factor. Existing competitors tend to operate within the regions that they serve, so competition within a region is virtually non-existent. In fact, most of the competitors in this market act as if they belong to an exclusive club, and so far there has been a congenial and amiable relationship among the companies that share this market. Recently, however, a key tag producer in another part of the country was purchased by a group of Canadian entrepreneurs, ostensibly to procure a production facility to support a similar market among Canadian colleges. This has the owners worried. Not only has a stranger joined the club, but the plans of the new company are not clear. There is a possibility that an infusion of capital into the newly purchased company would lead to an attempt to take market share. This potential attack on market share, possibly coming during a reorganization of the company, has the Etcetera owner group concerned. They would like to sell their holdings and move to Keowee Key, but they feel an almost paternal responsibility to the company. While they believe the company is secure in the short term, they would like to leave it in a state conducive to success in the long term. A few of the owners have attended seminars on quality at trade group meetings and professional society meetings, and the others have read of changes taking place in many industries. They have decided that quality is the key to retaining market share. You have been hired as a quality improvement specialist. In communications with the company so far (which have been limited to meetings with the president), you have learned a few general things about the company, mostly the history described above. Your job is to conduct a comprehensive study of operations,
  • recommend quality improvement actions, and assist in developing a long-term quality improvement strategy. 2. Meetings with Key Personnel It is a truism that the people in the system know how to run it, and are your best resource for finding improvements. Your initial task, then, is to talk with some key people. They can show you how the system operates, share their own ideas, and be of invaluable assistance in your study. At the same time, you must recognize that they are products of their environment and education. Some things you learn from them might be incorrect, some might be untrue, and almost all will have inherent biases. Part of your job will be to discover the facts of the situations. With some knowledge of the company and its products and processes, you can identify a few key people, by position if not by name. You begin by seeking interviews with these people. You may have a few key questions to ask each of them, depending on the work they do. You may also adapt or focus your interviews based on what you have found. These meetings should result in a subjective evaluation of conditions and attitudes. Much of what you hear may be opinion or anecdotal; these need to be confirmed or rejected based on real data. 2.1 Irving Magnate, President Irving Magnate has been with the company since its formation. He worked for his father, Theodore Roosevelt Magnate (known as quot;Old T. R.quot;), in Magnate Stampings in various capacities for 25 years. When Etcetera was formed, Irving was company controller and Old T. R. was president and CEO. Irving became president at Old T. R.'s retirement ten years ago. Irving Magnate is also the ownership spokesman; the other family owners are involved in other enterprises (some are retired), and leave the operation of Etcetera to Irving. For all practical purposes, Irving Magnate is authorized to make all decisions, including reorganization of the company. Irving's style of management could best be described as quot;enlightened paternalismquot;. He thinks of himself as a surrogate father to the employees, and these feelings are reciprocated. He is very concerned about the fate of the company and its employees after his retirement, and this has led him to investigate reorganization into an employee-owned enterprise. He has read extensively on issues in quality, and recently attended a seminar presented by a well-known consultant. He has come to the conclusion that quality is the key to retaining market in an environment that is potentially more competitive that what now exists. Being both open-minded and conservative (not necessarily a contradiction), he is receptive to change, but wants it justified and a new stability reached before reorganization. The meeting takes place in Irving Magnate's office at the plant. He offers you coffee, and engages in casual conversation while he serves it. Upon returning to his desk, however, he becomes all business, and asks quot;Where do we start?quot; quot;Mr. Magnate, I want to begin by asking about your commitment to this process one last time. The likelihood is that our study will result in changes being made, both short-term and long-term. The study itself will be disruptive to some extent, and we should not start unless you are fully committed and your employees will understand and accept what we are doing. Starting this job and then stopping it short could be worse than doing nothing. Are you fully committed, and have you communicated your commitment to the company?quot; quot;First, please call me Irv. We are like a family here. You have a better parking place than I do, because visitors park near the lobby, and all employees, including me, park in the lot first come first served. But to answer your question, I am fully committed. From what I have read and heard, I think I understand the importance of my commitment. I appreciate your bringing up some possible negatives, but I believe they are worth the risk. I have discussed this with the VP of Manufacturing and the Quality Manager, and we would like to defer View slide
  • notifying the rest of the company until we can tell them more about what to expect. I would like for you to tell me that as soon as you can.quot; quot;Fine. I would like to talk to a few of your people today, and I can tell you what to expect by the end of the day.quot; quot;All right. I will draft an announcement with your help, and have it distributed tomorrow. Now, how else can I help you?quot; quot;I would like to get a feel for your current status, and I would like to start with an overview of the situation. What is your assessment of current product quality?quot; quot;Our quality is very good, probably the best in the business. We hired a quality manager five years ago, and he has done an excellent job. He installed a quality audit system, and then trained some key people in quality, SPC, things like that. I think we had to hire a few inspectors, but the investment has been worth it. I am not so concerned about present quality as keeping ahead of our competitors.quot; quot;How conscious are your workers of quality concerns?quot; quot;They are very aware of its importance. Every worker knows about our 'Do it right the first time' philosophy. We have a suggestion program, and a quarterly quality newsletter recognizing our best workers. In fact, your study here will fit right in with what we have been doing.quot; quot;Are your suppliers involved in your quality program?quot; quot;No, and that is an occasional problem. We have had to step up our incoming inspections. Our suppliers know that if we get bad material, we send it back. Their contracts require replacement of bad material at no cost, so they are usually pretty good.quot; quot;Are you concerned about quality costs?quot; quot;Well, yes, to the extent that I am concerned about all costs. Our quality costs have gone up a little through hiring of inspectors, and I have hired you, so you know I think of it as an investment. We don't get a lot of returned goods because we don't ship a lot of scrap. Our people know I won't tolerate shoddy work; quality has always been part of our reputation.quot; quot;How much of an investment in time are you willing to make in improvement? In other words, how soon do you expect results from this study?quot; quot;I know better than to expect instantaneous results. I also know that long-term change takes a long time to accomplish. You told me your study would be complete within a month, and I expect some concrete recommendations from it. Getting those in place, though, is another matter. I expect major changes to take up to a couple of years to show results, but I hope we can make some headway in some areas sooner than that.quot; quot;That's good. I wanted to be sure you were not expecting miracles. All the people involved, but most especially the management, need to understand, and accept, that lasting improvement means changing the processes. This invariably leads to someone's duties being changed, more responsibility given to the workers, and a perceived dilution of management's authority. These things don't happen overnight.quot; quot;I'm not sure what you have in mind on dilution of management's authority.quot; quot;Well, I start with the assumption that you have good workers and good managers, but they don't necessarily understand that what is best for a single department might not be best for the company. Some companies have management systems that guarantee that individual departments optimize their operations at the overall cost of the company. We have what appears to be a fundamental contradiction. We would like to free the workers and managers of constraints that limit how well they do their jobs, but central authority or management gets in the way. If we proceed to give workers more authority, this dilutes management authority, and it seems to mean that individuals, not departments, might optimize their own work at the cost of the overall company. To coordinate these efforts, we need a system of operation that lets each person know his or View slide
  • her role in the organization, not just the position title and reporting requirement. If all of your people are well trained, understand their roles, and work in an environment that fosters cooperation to achieve common goals, you have that system of operation. Of course that is a much simplified description of it.quot; quot;And you are going to do this in a month?quot; quot;That's the key point. In a month, we can identify some process problems that can probably be profitably improved in the short term. The training, reaching a new level of understanding, and creating the environment to keep the system going can take a long time.quot; quot;Is this the 'change in corporate culture' that I have read about?quot; quot;Yes, it is. And this is the most difficult part of improvement to achieve. You hear terms such as 'cultural change', 'transformation', and 'continuous improvement'. They all mean essentially the same thing. You eventually have to change the way you do business within the company to a mode and style that not just allows, but encourages all of your employees to participate in continuous improvement. The cultural change or transformation is what is necessary to get to this stage. And it is you and your management who will be most affected by it. Some of this change can be accomplished simply through correct training of workers and management, to give them the tools to do the job. But a large part of it is the acceptance by the management that the transformation is necessary.quot; quot;I see why you are concerned about commitment. I probably have some managers who will have trouble accepting all of this.quot; quot;I would be surprised if you did not. This acceptance will really be your job, not mine. I can help some, with training slanted especially for your managers, and with some good examples of successful companies who are in this transformation. You can't simply copy what they do, because the system you end up with should be developed with your own needs and environment in mind. This means the system will be created by your people, with some coaching and help.quot; quot;Should we send some managers to visit Japan, and see what they are doing?quot; quot;Not right away, and possibly not at all. I think it is a mistake to think in terms of Japanese methods. Many of the things that need to be done are common sense; they are difficult sometimes because they seem to be contradicted by what we have been taught and how we have practiced for years. We have the Japanese example to show us that what we have been taught is not necessarily right. But the methods the Japanese used are not uniquely Japanese. They had the benefit of some good teaching and coaching, from Deming and Juran, beginning in the 1950's. But they didn't succeed simply because they are Japanese, and they didn't succeed in a short time. As a country, they took about 20 years. Some companies developed much quicker, and continue to improve. The secret of their success was the way they used the training and coaching they got, with their commitment to improvement over the long term. They use their management methods in American plants with American workers, and are successful here, too. It is this kind of commitment that I mean when I ask if you are committed. It is a recognition that, without this transformation, you are limited to short-term fixes that may be profitable in the short run, but do nothing to affect long term operations. My team is going to begin with short-term problems, but you need to be taking a longer view.quot; quot;Well, now I understand better why you asked about my commitment, and I can see how this might be more disruptive to management than the workers. I must tell you that I have some reservations. I will need to be convinced before we go beyond the process improvements we have talked about. I am still committed to your study, but what you are talking about is a major change in the company.quot; quot;That's right, it certainly is. Let us do this. I will begin the study, and you can announce to your employees that my team will be conducting a month-long quality improvement study. During the course of the study, you will have
  • opportunities to see what we are doing, and how we are doing it. This will show you what kind of training your line workers will need, because they should learn to do the same kinds of studies on their own. In the later stages of the study, I will want your management to participate in some sessions leading to development of a strategy for quality improvement in your company. This will address more long-term issues. At the end of the study, you will have seen the methods we use and the results we have gotten, and I will give you a set of recommendations for further action. At that point, we can discuss all this again. So, you have some options, and part of my job will be to give you information to use in selecting options.quot; quot;That sounds fine. At the very least, you might discover some process improvements that we can use. What do we do next?quot; quot;I would like to talk with a few of your managers and employees. If you will introduce me to your VP of Manufacturing, I will start getting into details.quot;
  • 2.2 Walter Honcho, VP-Manufacturing Walter Honcho has been with Etcetera for ten years. He was hired in his present position from a position as senior manufacturing engineer. Walter is a mechanical engineer by education, and has an MBA that he earned part-time while working several years ago. He is in his late 40's, and appears to be in good physical condition. A potentially significant fact is that Walter Honcho was responsible for the design of much of Etcetera's production processes; he may take suggestions for improvement as implied criticisms of his design. His office is down the hall from Irving Magnate's, nearer the production area. Irving Magnate introduces you to Walter Honcho in his office. It is clear from the introduction that Magnate and Honcho have discussed the purpose of the visit. Magnate leaves, Honcho returns to his desk, and you take a seat across from him. Honcho begins by asking quot;How can I help you in your project?quot; quot;Well, I am in the initial data collection stage of the project. My team will be conducting a study on quality improvement over the next few weeks. We will be looking at your processes, procedures, and overall quality assessment. Our objective is to work with you to identify potential quality improvements in your products. My starting point is to interview some key people, beginning with you. What is your assessment of quality?quot; quot;I think our quality is pretty good. It wasn't always, but we have made some good progress. Our production machinery is in good shape. Most of it was developed here, and we understand our processes well. As with most companies, we have had vendor problems and training problems. Our plant foreman and quality manager have worked with our people and our suppliers, and the results have been good. In fact, I think our quality is among the best in our business.quot; quot;Do you have any data on your quality history?quot; quot;Yes, I had John Loomer, our quality manager, put together a summary on both defects and complaints. We inspect our product before packaging, and keep track of defects. Of course all defective items are replaced, so we are confident that what we ship is good. Still, it is good to know where our defectives come from. Here is a table of defects found in final inspection, based on the last six months of operation. I think these numbers show that our processes are working and our inspection is pretty good. I can tell you that, from my contacts with other companies in our business, our internal quality is very good. It has improved quite a bit since I hired John; we had some problems in assembly and engraving that have almost been completely eliminated.quot; Honcho hands you a typewritten memo from Loomer. It contains two tables, one summarizing internal defects and another summarizing external complaints. quot;I notice that you also have some data on customer complaints. Have these been improving as well?quot; quot;Yes, but not as much. Of course customers don't always look for the same things that we do, and as our costs increased a little we found that customers got a little more 'picky'. Still, we have improved there, especially in our counts and shipping dates. Our process related quality has been perceived as very good by our customers, but we have had to work on shipping and delivery. I worked with Fred Doit, the plant foreman, on some production control problems to help those problems.quot; quot;I would appreciate having a copy of this, if I may.quot; quot;You can keep that one.quot; quot;Thank you. I appreciate the background I have gotten from you and Mr. Magnate, and with your permission I would like to continue my interviews. You mentioned Mr. Doit and Mr. Loomer; I would certainly like to talk to them. I would also like to speak with some experienced line workers.quot; quot;There are two people you should talk to. Edith Scriptus is a lead engraver. She supervises our custom product section, and has a very good working knowledge of input processes in both plastics and metal. Our most experienced press operator is Jim Bob Twister. He has been with us for a long time, and has
  • the best knowledge of our press and die operations in the plant. I will call ahead and tell them to expect you, if that would help.quot; quot;Yes, it would. I would also like one additional favor. If you have an empty or idle office where I can leave my briefcase and work on notes without getting in anyone's way, I would appreciate using it.quot; quot;There is an empty conference room just down the hall. If you don't have any more questions, I can take you there.quot; quot;Thanks. I appreciate your time. I might need to clarify some points later, but you have helped a great deal already.quot; Honcho takes you to the conference room and leaves you there. While he is calling the remaining interview contacts, you take out a notebook to make some notes on the interviews so far. In interviewing the top two people in the organization, one objective was to assess the level of commitment and understanding about quality. Another was to try to determine just how knowledgeable they were about operational problems. These interviews may also help guide the development of questions for other interviews. Finally, as a matter of courtesy, Magnate and Honcho should be informed of other interviews, and ideally would cooperate in identifying people to interview. Notes from these interviews, especially Magnate and Honcho, should be kept confidential and secure. In a team project, not all team members will be privy to all aspects of the study.
  • Interview Notes: Irving Magnate Irving Magnate is committed to, but does not yet completely understand, the process of continuous improvement and the potential extent of cultural change necessary for it to take place. He is fully supportive of the short-term study, and will support long-term actions if given convincing evidence of their necessity and likely success. Interview Notes: Walter Honcho Walter Honcho has an obsolete view of quality and quality control. He will require solid arguments before he will be receptive to process changes, since he has an emotional attachment to the process as it is. It appears from the form of the summary quality statistics that he does not routinely receive updates on quality in this form. Accordingly, any statements of fact from him concerning quality will need independent verification. (An example is his statement about improvement in quality.) His statement that process quality is good is contradicted by the defect rate in print quality. An item for further study is that the complaint statistics are not consistent with the defect rates.
  • Etcetera Internal Memorandum DATE: yesterday TO: Walter Honcho FROM: John Loomer SUBJECT: Quality Summary Below are summaries of customer complaints and internal defects for the past six months. Complaints are per 10000 orders, and defect rates are per 1000 units. You will note the improvement we have made in shipping and delivery. Complaints per 10000 orders Defects per 1000 units Missing Ring 2 Assembly 2 Misplace Print 4 Print Qualities 13 Print Quality 23 Print Detail 4 Type Error 6 Edge Flaw 22 Rough Edge 3 Cosmetic 5 Excess Flash 13 Late Shipment 6 Bad Count 4
  • 2.3 Fred Doit, Plant Foreman The plant foreman is the chief line worker at Etcetera. He manages and supervises all operations, and reports to Walter Honcho. Fred Doit has been with the company for several years. He has been trained as a machinist and machine operator, and has a two-year degree from a local tech school. While his theoretical knowledge of production problems might be slim, his working knowledge of the production system is excellent. You meet Mr. Doit after calling for an appointment, and arranging to meet at the production floor entrance from the executive offices. While he has an office, Fred spends much of his time on the floor, and your interview will be conducted as he gives you a tour of the system. Fred provides you with safety glasses and a lab coat. He tells you that this is one of his daily tours of the facility, and he will combine his tour with an orientation, if you don't mind his stopping to talk with operators along the tour. You ask his permission to record the tour on your pocket recorder, and he agrees. (Since Fred is about to give you information about the basic operation of the system, you want to be sure not to miss any critical steps in the process.) The tour begins as you walk toward a material storage area. quot;We are starting at the beginning of the processes for both the plastic and metal products. Both processes are mostly straight-line, with plastic on your left and metal on your right. The processes are similar except for the different materials. We store plastic chips, plastic coloring, and coils of mild steel and brass at this end; they are delivered in bulk from the receiving dock. The plastic chips are the basic material for the plastic tags, and we add coloring according to customer order. These are measured into a molding machine, with a die set for the size and shape we are running. On the other side, we feed metal coil into a press, where dies stamp out the metal tags.quot; quot;Is there much difference between the metal and plastic tags?quot; quot;No, almost all of our products are standard size and shape, in both plastic and metal. We keep die sets for all the standard products, and have to have different sets for brass and steel. The machines are basically standard, except that we have modified the feed and output to fit our system. Plastics feed onto a conveyor into the trim machine, where we take off rough edges and square up the tag. It isn't really flashing, but we call it that. On the metal side, the tags come out in finished shape and size, and we send them through a finish operation, usually anodizing or just polishing. We used to have a problem with metal tag damage on the conveyor, but we changed the belt material and speed, and that cleared it up.quot; quot;Are the cycle times about the same on both lines?quot; quot;Yes, they are pretty well balanced. Some finish operations take a little longer on the metal, but they are done in batches, while the plastics are one-at-a- time, so it balances out. After trimming, the plastics go into a stamping machine. A die puts whatever symbol or standard text the customer ordered into the plastic. On the other side the same thing happens to metal tags in a press. Some metal tags go into an ink-stamping machine instead.quot; quot;The ink-stamping machine looks newer than the rest.quot; quot;Yes, it is. Customers are ordering more metal tags with smooth surface and ink stamping, because we can put on more symbols at less cost. It is the same as engraving plaques at a jeweler's or sporting goods store. More people buy the smooth finish than the old-fashioned engraving. That is a pretty nice machine. We can change the symbol or text in a matter of minutes, and it has taken some load off the custom engraving section. That's the next stop. Standard tags go straight to assembly on conveyors our of the press or stamping, but custom jobs go to engraving. That is mostly plastic now.quot; quot;That gives you cleaner operations, doesn't it?quot; quot;Much cleaner than when we had metal chips all over. It is a lot easier to clean up around a plastic engraver. Edith, here, has been around through all these changes, and likes it a lot better now.quot;
  • You stop to talk with Edith Scriptus, lead engraver. After she talks with Doit, you make an appointment to speak with her later. quot;All tags go through assembly. All we do here is attach a metal ring. The machine is automatic, and the ringwire feeds off a coil, gets wrapped through the hole, and is cut off. Very little problem with this machine, but it misses a tag now and then. Next stop is inspection. Hello, John.quot; John Loomer is in the inspection area talking to an inspector. He is the QC manager, and has been told by Honcho that you want to talk to him. You make an appointment for a later meeting. quot;Last stop is packaging. We have standard packages for all tags, with labels cut from the same order that started the batch. Most batches are shipped within 24 hours of packaging.quot; quot;It seems to be a smoothly running system. Any peculiarities?quot; quot;It is smooth, but I won't say we can't run it better. We got rid of handling damage in the conveyors. The print quality suffers sometimes due to worn dies or a bad setup on the ink-stamp. The metal finish is pretty good, but the plastic trim sometimes leaves rough edges, and we have not been able to get a handle on that. I have wondered if it might be in the material, but I haven't been able to figure it out. Our vendors say nothing has changed, but then that's what I would expect them to say. Overall, things are running well, and we usually catch all the bad product at inspection.quot; quot;Fred, thank you very much for the tour. It has been very informative. If you don't mind, I would like to get together with you again after I have talked to some other folks, and had a chance to think a little. We might be able to work on your material problem, too.quot; You return to the conference room to change tapes, and make some notes on the tour. You realize that you don't yet know enough to begin a thorough analysis, but there are hints. Two things to do based on this tour are to draw a flow diagram of the processes, and consider how to relate material to edge problems in trimming. After a short break, you walk to John Loomer's office.
  • 2.4 John Loomer, QC Manager John Loomer has a BS in business, and has taken a few courses in statistics. He is a member of the American Society for Quality Control, and has attended a few ASQC workshops. He is a young man, and only has a few years experience. Based on the Honcho interview, you assume that Loomer has primary responsibility for quality and is limited only by his knowledge of quality methodologies and processes. Major changes, however, will probably have to come from Honcho or Magnate. One of your objectives will be to enlist Loomer as an ally in your project, since he could easily block recommended changes. You begin by trying to determine his state of knowledge and experience. quot;Mr. Loomer, I appreciate your seeing me. I assume that Mr. Honcho has told you about my project. I want to assure you that I am not here to undermine the quality program you have installed. There may be recommended changes, but I would like to work with you on those recommendations.quot; quot;I will admit I was a little concerned when I heard you were starting a project with quality as its focus. On the other hand, I know there is more to be done here. Why don't I bring you up to date on quality developments here at Etcetera?quot; quot;I would like to hear it.quot; quot;Well, I was hired three years ago as QC Manager. That was my interest in college, and in my first job I was able to expand it and attend some seminars that were very useful. Irv and Walter wanted to institute a formal quality program, and hired me to do it. There was very little formal QC work at that time. Since then, I have concentrated on two areas: inspection, and customer complaints. I initiated a final inspection function, and hired and trained some inspectors. Until then, we had no idea of what our quality was. We found some problems right away on metal tags, that we traced to conveyor damage. Since then, things are going well for the most part.quot; quot;Mr. Honcho told me you screen 100% of your products.quot; quot;Yes, and that was a help, too. We found some assembly problems and a couple of others that operator training took care of. I make a point that the operators know that QC is there to improve the process, not get on somebody's case.quot; quot;How is your customer feedback?quot; quot;Improving. The final inspection eliminated some complaints, but some others were due to shipping problems. Putting in a formal review of complaints helped us find that and fix it.quot; quot;How does your formal review work?quot; quot;The receiving department sends all returns to me, and marketing sends me copies of complaint letters. We have a review committee of me, Edith Scriptus, and Fred Doit. We meet monthly and review returns and complaints, and then one of us takes action, depending on the problem.quot; quot;Is Mr. Honcho involved in the review?quot; quot;Not formally, but I report to him from time to time on quality status and actions. He prefers to leave it to me and Fred, unless the problem involves other departments.quot; quot;What is your overall assessment of quality here?quot; quot;It is improved, but there is more room for improvement. We have some potential material problems with edges that have been a nuisance. We still get too many complaints about print quality, too. Based on things I have read lately, I wonder if we might be getting as much as we are going to get from inspection. I have mentioned doing some process studies, but Fred and Walter say things are going pretty well, and they don't like to take productive time for experiments. Still, we are the best in the business, and we mean to stay that way.quot; quot;Well, I need to think about what I have learned so far. I like your idea about running some experiments; maybe we can talk them into it. Thanks for your help.quot;
  • Interview Notes: John Loomer Mr. Loomer is right about reaching the limit of what inspection can do. Some process studies are required, and Loomer will probably be helpful. He is enthusiastic about learning more about quality, and can be expected to be a proponent of expanding the quality function. It is interesting that Walter Honcho has little to do with quality, leaving it all to Loomer and Doit.
  • 2.5 Edith Scriptus, Lead Engraver Edith Scriptus has been with the company for several years. She has worked in all of the production sections, and is expert in most of them. While she has no line management responsibility outside the custom engraving section, she is considered a valuable resource by Doit and Loomer. Her combination of experience and process knowledge is probably the best in the company. Her interview takes place in the engraving work area. It begins differently from the others when, in place of a greeting, she says, quot;So you're going to fix up the quality in this place. I wish somebody would!quot; quot;Is there a problem with quality here?quot; quot;Don't kid me. You hope there is a big problem, so you can earn a big fee. I hope you do earn it. It would be nice to see some things fixed that have needed it for a long time.quot; quot;You make it sound like there are chronic problems.quot; quot;There are. We have gotten by for a long time by patching things, but I don't think we know enough to patch any more. If you can get Irv's attention and make Honcho take some action, that would be a good start. I'm no quality expert, but I can tell when a system isn't running as well as it should. I can also tell when people run in circles without making any progress, especially if I am one of them. We do too much of that.quot; quot;What do you think of your quality systems?quot; quot;We do the best we can, but we don't do enough. John has done a lot of good, but he hasn't been around long enough to get to the deep problems. His inspection and training has helped; he found some problems and got them fixed. I'm afraid he is out of quick fixes, though. We're on top of our business right now, but if somebody starts beating us on quality and price, we could be in trouble.quot; quot;I've been told your quality is the best in your business.quot; quot;It is, but look at what it costs! It's better than before John came, as far as customers are concerned, but we work harder to get it. We used to run at about 80% of capacity. After inspection started, we still ship the same numbers, but now we run at 95% of capacity. We can't grow because we spend more time at inspection and rework. Honcho hasn't figured that out yet.quot; quot;It sounds like you and Mr. Honcho don't agree on some things.quot; quot;I like Honcho, don't get me wrong. It's just that he is in love with his equipment. It did a good job for a long time, but things have changed. We have new products, new materials. That ink-stamper, for example. That new process took a lot of load off my section, but it makes more rejects, and nobody knows why. Are you going to work on that?quot; quot;I might. My first step, though, is to do a study of the whole system and find out where all the problems are. I would appreciate your help.quot; quot;I'll be glad to help. I've worked here for a long time, and I plan to retire here. I might as well make life easier on myself while I do it.quot; quot;Ms. Scriptus, you have been very frank with me, and I appreciate it. I'm going to think about what you have said, and I will probably need some information on your processes later. I hope we can work on some of those deeper problems.quot; quot;I'll be here.quot; Interview Notes: Edith Scriptus Edith Scriptus is quite different from the others. She is outspoken and frank, and seems to have a good intuitive grasp on key problems. She will be a valuable resource on process problems.
  • 2.6 Jim Bob Twister, Machine Operator Jim Bob Twister supervises operation of the presses and molding machines. He has been trained as a machinist, and has worked with Honcho in design and fabrication of some of the custom machinery. It was his work on the conveyors that reduced handling problems shortly after inspection began. His interview takes place in his shop near the metal presses. quot;Mr. Twister, thanks for setting aside some time for me. I suppose Mr. Honcho has told you about my quality study project.quot; quot;Yes, he told me to give you some help. What exactly are you going to do?quot; quot;I don't know yet. Right now I just want to learn more about how things work and where people think the problems are. My objective is to work with all of you to find some ways to improve your quality. What is the biggest problem in your area?quot; quot;Well, the presses are working pretty well. Molding is my biggest headache. We have these edge problems, and we can't get rid of them. It's not a major problem, but it makes some rework. I told Fred I think our plastic supplier is throwing in some recycled stuff now and then.quot; quot;How does that cause problems?quot; quot;I'm not sure how. But I know we have looked at practically every machine adjustment we can think of, and no matter what we do we get edge problems. And it's not consistent. It seems to me that it must be the material.quot; quot;How about on the metal side? Do you have much die wear?quot; quot;We have some, but we have a handle on it. I have a schedule for die replacement, and as long as we stick to it, our quality is OK. I'm more concerned about the plastics.quot; quot;Do you have time for some test runs?quot; quot;Sure. Just clear it with Fred, and let me know what you need.quot; quot;Do you use SPC on your presses?quot; quot;No, not yet. I probably will, though, as soon as John gets around to it. I've been trained in SPC, and John wants to start a program. It might help.quot; quot;How about the rest of your section? Have they been trained?quot; quot;No, just me. I don't think that will be a problem, though. They are pretty sharp fellows; they can pick it up.quot; quot;Well, thanks for your time. I will be around for a few days, and I will probably be back for some more help.quot; Interview Notes: Jim Bob Twister Jim Bob Twister seems to have his section running well. If he is correct in his description of edge problems, some experiments on molding will be necessary. It would be good to know how he went about checking machine adjustments and their effect on edge flaws. Interview Notes: General There is some diversity of opinion on quality status and potential problems. Scriptus and Loomer seem to be more in agreement with Magnate than with Honcho. Doit and Twister appear to want to help, and Loomer and Scriptus are enthusiastic. A common attitude (except for Honcho) is that quality needs improving but no one knows where to start.
  • 3. Analysis In this section, the class will go through a sequence of analyses designed to identify problems and then home in on solutions. This analysis is based primarily on processes, although human considerations can also come into play. Each sub-section below presents a quality tool related to the overall case. Each tool is used to move a step closer to solutions. 3.1 Finding the Problem Regardless of what you have been told about what the problems are, independent problem identification is the first step. A fresh look at the system by an outsider can reveal problems that people close to it cannot see. If this analysis only confirms that assumed problems are real problems, then the analysis is still valuable, because it strengthens our beliefs based on facts. Go back through the interviews and make a list of as many potential problems as you can find. Include potential non-process problems, such as human resources and disagreements. For each problem that you list, give a brief description of it and a potential solution (if you can find one). After generating your list, go back to the Honcho interview and find the memo on quality from Loomer to Honcho. Perform a Pareto analysis on both sets of data, and draw what conclusions you can from them. 3.2 Learning the Processes Knowledge of processes is one of the most difficult problems for an outsider. Workers will make assumptions about your knowledge, and unconsciously overlook details that they might consider trivial. A good way to learn a process is to develop a flowchart of it and give it to a knowledgeable worker to critique. Based on the interview with Doit (and any other information you can find), make a flowchart of the process flow. Identify on the flowchart any processes that the interviews have indicated might have quality problems. Make a second flowchart for the customer complaint process described by Loomer. 3.3 What Causes What? A critical piece of quality engineering is thinking about causes rather than symptoms. It appears that Etcetera pays a lot of attention to symptoms (through inspection) rather than causes. This is part of Edith Scriptus' frustration in that she knows there are deeper problems, but she does not see a way to get at them. Jim Bob Twister is already thinking about causes in wondering if vendor problems are causing edge flaws. You have arranged a meeting of Doit, Scriptus, Loomer, and Twister. After explaining the importance of identifying causes, you lead them through an exercise of identifying potential causes. In this exercise, which is a sort of brainstorming exercise, your objective is to go beyond what they think they know about causes of problems. A list of potential causes will allow further study, without limiting the study by preconceived notions about quality problems. To structure the problem, you have limited the exercise to two areas. First, you note that print quality is a major source of customer complaints. Print quality problems occur in both metal and plastic tags. Examples of these problems are fuzzy printing, uneven printing, surface flaws, and scratches. (Other print related problems, such as typographical errors and misplaced symbols fall into other categories in the Pareto analysis.) As a result of the first exercise, the following outline of major and subsidiary causes are found: Plastic Die Wear Design Metal Die Wear Design Plastic Press Setup Maintenance Vibration
  • Metal Press Setup Maintenance Vibration Ink-Stamping Ink Flow Alignment Pressure Speed Handling Packaging Conveyor Inspection Material The second exercise deals with edge flaws, the dominant defect based on inspection data. The list of causes for edge flaws is slightly different in structure: Material Base Specifications Base Variation Color Material Methods Mixing Pre-cure Period Speed Machines Molding Trimming Stamping Operators Supervision Morale Training Based on the results of these exercises, develop cause and effect diagrams. Based on what you know so far, in data and from interviews, identify the most likely causes in each diagram. 3.4 Learning from Data (Historical Variation) Once potential causes have been identified, it is time to look at data rather than continue to solicit opinions. Curing time in the molding operation has been identified as a potential cause of edge flaws. If the plastic does not cure quickly enough, edges become brittle and fracture leaving the molding process. (Note that curing time is not a process variable. Rather, the molding machine cycle time is a process variable that is set based on the expected curing time of standard material.) A test has been devised in which a sample of plastic material is tested for cure time before molding. The batch is then tested for edge defects. Results of these tests for 100 batches are on the following page. Twister and Doit have arranged the test runs, and Loomer has arranged their inspection. At this time we will consider only the cure time results. Develop a histogram for this data, then list and discuss your conclusions from this histogram. A second test has been devised for the Ink-Stamp process. In this test, platen pressure is recorded from batch to batch and finished tags are inspected. You will see that platen pressure varies considerably; based on a suggestion by Edith Scriptus, it is varied randomly through typical values used in production runs. Operators have some discretion for setting platen pressure, and different operators have preferred settings. Develop a histogram for platen pressure and
  • discuss what conclusions you can from it. Data for this test follows the cure time data.
  • Curing Time Test Results order curetime defects order curetime defects 1 31.6583 0 51 40.53732 3 2 29.7833 0 52 41.69992 3 3 31.8791 0 53 38.01712 2 4 33.9125 0 54 42.23068 4 5 34.4643 0 55 40.16485 2 6 25.1848 0 56 38.35171 2 7 37.76689 1 57 44.17493 4 8 39.21143 2 58 37.32931 1 9 41.34268 3 59 41.04428 3 10 39.54590 2 60 38.63444 2 11 29.5571 0 61 34.5628 0 12 32.5735 0 62 28.2506 1 13 29.4731 0 63 32.5956 0 14 25.3784 1 64 25.3439 2 15 25.0438 1 65 29.2058 0 16 24.0035 2 66 32.0702 0 17 25.4671 1 67 30.6983 0 18 34.8516 0 68 40.30540 3 19 30.1915 0 69 35.55970 0 20 31.6222 0 70 39.98265 2 21 46.25184 5 71 39.70007 2 22 34.71356 0 72 33.95910 0 23 41.41277 3 73 38.77365 1 24 44.63319 4 74 35.69885 0 25 35.44750 0 75 38.43070 2 26 38.83289 2 76 40.05451 3 27 33.0886 0 77 43.13634 4 28 31.6349 0 78 44.31927 5 29 34.55143 0 79 39.84285 2 30 33.8633 0 80 39.12542 2 31 35.18869 0 81 39.00292 2 32 42.31515 3 82 34.9124 0 33 43.43549 4 83 33.9059 0 34 37.36371 1 84 28.2279 0 35 38.85718 2 85 32.4671 0 36 39.25132 2 86 28.8737 1 37 37.05298 1 87 34.3862 0 38 42.47056 4 88 33.9296 0 39 35.90282 0 89 33.0424 0 40 38.21905 2 90 28.4006 1 41 38.57292 2 91 32.5994 0 42 39.06772 2 92 30.7381 0 43 32.2209 0 93 31.7863 0 44 33.202 0 94 34.0398 0 45 27.0305 1 95 35.7598 0 46 33.6397 0 96 42.37100 3 47 26.6306 2 97 30.206 0 48 42.79176 4 98 34.5604 0 49 38.38454 2 99 27.93 1 50 37.89885 1 100 30.8174 0 Ink-Stamp Pressure Test Results order pressure defects order pressure defects 1 54.61011 1 51 49.84772 0 2 48.18864 1 52 53.74094 0 3 46.67790 2 53 42.05643 7
  • 4 55.69777 0 54 49.15719 0 5 46.71324 2 55 45.92712 4 6 50.87298 0 56 51.47415 0 7 48.07087 0 57 54.00929 0 8 52.70330 0 58 45.64028 3 9 48.27924 1 59 51.87687 0 10 50.64000 0 60 45.50864 3 11 53.51388 0 61 52.80480 0 12 52.53090 0 62 45.92553 3 13 52.23050 0 63 52.59476 0 14 43.71019 7 64 45.82347 2 15 58.21274 0 65 45.68842 2 16 52.43414 0 66 44.76260 3 17 62.47194 0 67 51.84920 0 18 47.53091 2 68 60.10677 0 19 51.36884 0 69 53.78403 0 20 55.83400 0 70 56.80717 0 21 49.51951 0 71 46.91672 3 22 55.51342 0 72 49.41763 0 23 46.38174 3 73 52.39437 1 24 51.78755 0 74 50.18450 0 25 53.66929 0 75 51.49381 0 26 55.69316 0 76 47.85005 1 27 50.46705 0 77 52.71594 0 28 55.86063 0 78 47.96361 2 29 47.46654 2 79 54.13159 0 30 54.58936 0 80 45.32825 3 31 58.38433 0 81 46.27780 3 32 57.38879 0 82 52.51733 0 33 43.47086 4 83 47.29948 2 34 51.76834 0 84 52.14801 0 35 51.56180 0 85 42.60228 6 36 44.87728 4 86 48.16064 1 37 49.79912 0 87 49.28328 0 38 45.44027 4 88 53.95466 0 39 52.17270 0 89 47.87085 1 40 51.50867 0 90 49.39820 0 41 52.96381 1 91 49.58192 0 42 47.12384 2 92 50.99383 0 43 47.47093 2 93 45.61200 3 44 46.16880 2 94 47.74353 3 45 53.97889 0 95 41.15958 8 46 53.41101 0 96 50.61908 0 47 52.48163 0 97 53.92124 0 48 48.51500 1 98 51.51060 0 49 48.91184 1 99 52.46713 0 50 49.18596 0 100 50.71842 0 3.5 Learning from Data (Historical Sequence) Histograms provide useful information, but they hide the sequence of observations. Frequently, sequence is more important than overall distribution. For example, a process which runs for a week yielding observations below the mean, and then runs for a week yielding observations above the mean, could have the same histogram as a process with the same observations randomly sequenced. Construct run charts for the histogram data (cure time and platen pressure) and for the defects found in both experiments. Visually compare the defects run charts with their respective process variables. What conclusions or subjective inferences can you make about the run charts and their comparisons? What
  • information does this give you about what should be done next? 3.6 Learning from Data (Patterns and Correlation) You have begun looking for patterns in histograms and run charts. Patterns of correlation may be found in relating two variables. This is easily done through a scatter diagram. Construct scatter diagrams for defects vs cure time and for defects vs platen pressure. Look at both the overall patterns and the density of points in parts of the patterns. What subjective inferences can you make about patterns in these scatter diagrams? 3.7 Learning from Data (Process Stability) One of the most used tools of quality is the control chart. This chart is used primarily to monitor a process and provide signals when the process goes out of control. Using the data on the following page, construct X-bar and R charts with limits calculated from the data. This data came from cure tests on vendor supplied base material which was known to comply with material specifications. After developing your control charts, add points from the first 48 observations in the cure test data. Describe your results. Cure Time Subgroups order ct1 ct2 ct3 ct4 1 27.34667 27.50085 29.94412 28.21249 2 27.79695 26.15006 31.21295 31.33272 3 33.53255 29.32971 29.70460 31.05300 4 37.98409 32.26942 31.91741 29.44279 5 33.82722 30.32543 28.38117 33.70124 6 29.68356 29.56677 27.23077 34.00417 7 32.62640 26.32030 32.07892 36.17198 8 30.29575 30.52868 24.43315 26.85241 9 28.43856 30.48251 32.43083 30.76162 10 28.27790 33.94916 30.47406 28.87447 11 26.91885 27.66133 31.46936 29.66928 12 28.46547 28.29937 28.99441 31.14511 13 32.42677 26.10410 29.47718 37.20079 14 28.84273 30.51801 32.23614 30.47104 15 30.75136 32.99922 28.08452 26.19981 16 31.25754 24.29473 35.46477 28.41126 17 31.24921 28.57954 35.00865 31.23591 18 31.41554 35.80049 33.60909 27.82131 19 32.20230 32.02005 32.71018 29.37620 20 26.91603 29.77775 33.92696 33.78366 21 35.05322 32.93284 31.51641 27.73615 22 32.12483 29.32853 30.99709 31.39641 23 30.09172 32.43938 27.84725 30.70726 24 30.04835 27.23709 22.01801 28.69624 25 29.30273 30.83735 30.82735 31.90733
  • 4. Short-term Improvement Plan At this point in the study you have maintained a primarily technical focus. For the purposes of this particular study, you have had two objectives. First, you need to learn the technical aspects of the process in order to begin process improvement. Second, you need to provide a basis for convincing Irving Magnate that additional work is needed, both technical and managerial. You should have documented potential process improvements at this point, and should also have identified other processes for further study. These technical and process items form the basis for a short-term improvement plan and, in this case, an interim report. 4.1 Conclusions from Data Develop an interim report based on observations, data, and analysis to this point. Your report should be based on fact and observation; where it contains opinions these should be identified as such. The report should be clear to a person who is not expert in quality engineering, but it should contain enough technical detail to support your conclusions. The report will tell the reader (in this case, Irving Magnate) what you have done, what you have learned, and what you recommend. You should have two processes for which you can recommend improvements. You should also recommend further study of other processes, based on data you have in this case study. Your recommendations in the report should deal with technical issues. (Managerial issues at this stage are better handled in person with Mr. Magnate.) 4.2 Documenting Improved Processes There is one non-production process that you can use to demonstrate a managerial quality tool. The complaint handling process has been briefly described. Include in your report a recommendation for improvements to the complaint process. Document your recommendation using a deployment flowchart.
  • 5. Planning Lasting Improvements Solving technical quality problems and making process improvements alone does not constitute a quality program. Without a process in place designed to foster continuous improvement, performance can begin to deteriorate almost as soon as improvements are made. Some companies engage in continuing cycle of solving technical quality problems, many of which need never have occurred. Planning lasting improvements consists of designing the quality program that reaches all parts of the company, develops quality attitudes in workers and management, and continually focuses attention on quality, in design, production, and performance. The remainder of this case deals with some techniques useful in designing such a system. 5.1 Identifying and Grouping Problems The affinity diagram is a good starting point for developing concepts. It is the only truly creative process among the Seven Management and Planning Tools. The affinity process is used to form rational groups of ideas, objects, problems, etc. It begins with a question or statement that focuses the groups thoughts. The result is a grouping of these within a pattern that arises from the information itself, guided by the group members. As a first step in developing a long-term improvement plan, conduct an affinity exercise. Your question for this exercise, related to the Etcetera case, is, quot;What are the important problems requiring attention in quality improvement?quot; 5.2 Potential Actions and Their Relationships Once the affinity process has structured problems, we can begin to refine them. The interrelationship digraph is a tool to identify and display relationships between factors. Develop an ID to display quality improvement areas and actions. You may wish to use the results of the affinity exercise as a starting point, and then brainstorm additional items. 5.3 An Organized View of Improvement Areas and Actions The affinity diagram is somewhat tree-like in showing a hierarchy of ideas. The interrelationship digraph is not, but both contain similar information. Combine the results of the previous two exercises into a tree diagram, showing a hierarchy of areas and actions to be taken. 5.4 Setting Priorities An extension of the tree diagram is its use in setting priorities using prioritization matrices. In this exercise, you will arrive at a ranking or priority scheme for the actions developed in previous exercises. Develop priorities using prioritization matrices and the tree diagram. You might need to modify the diagram slightly, or brainstorm more ideas before beginning. 5.5 An Organized Look at Conceptual Data Matrix diagrams are commonly used tools in presenting information of all kinds. Construct at least two different kinds of matrix diagrams using data from previous exercises. What conclusions can you draw from these diagrams? What other data could be usefully presented this way? 5.6 Documenting the Improvement Plan The results of the prioritization matrices exercise have given you a set of prioritized actions in an improvement plan. You now need to document the process of implementation. One of the best ways to document a new of highly revised process is the process decision program chart (PDPC). Develop a PDPC to guide implementation of a quality improvement plan, based on the exercises up to this point. Do not neglect the technical aspects of quality improvement. 5.7 Documenting the Process Flow In an earlier exercise, you developed a simple flowchart for the process. Expand this into a process flow chart, from incoming material to shipped product, and include improvements where you can identify them. Use either blocks, as before, specialized symbols, or ANSI standard process flow symbols, and include a key to the symbols you use. 5.8 A First Step in Strategic Planning Another way to develop a consensus for priorities is the nominal group technique (NGT). It is more subjective than prioritization matrices, but it is quicker than the sequence of steps leading up
  • to the matrix approach. The NGT method is described in the appendix. Conduct an NGT exercise to determine priorities in quality improvement. As the question used to focus the exercise, consider this: quot;What should be the actions taken to initiate a program of continuous quality improvement at Etcetera?quot; 5.9 Analysis Up to this point, most exercises have been conducted independently, although some depended on others for input. Your final report should include results of these exercises, and conclusions drawn from each exercise. Analysis of these results is an important task that is required before the report is complete. These results need to by synthesized into a coherent set of recommendations. There is no single best way to do this. You may find that some of the methodologies used in the exercises (such as matrix diagrams) are useful in synthesizing and presenting conclusions. You may also find that another round of group brainstorming or NGT can be used to reduce the possible recommendations into a manageable number, or an affinity exercise could be used to put the recommendations into groups. Your group's last task is to formulate overall conclusions and recommendations, compile supporting information (such as results of individual exercises), and integrate them into a final report.
  • 7. References and Recommended Reading Brassard, Michael, The Memory Jogger Plus, GOAL/QPC, Methuen, MA 1989 Cook, L. E., No Downtime: Six Steps to Industrial Problem Solving, Addison-Wesley, New York, 1991 Deming, W. Edwards, Out of the Crisis, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA 1986 Ishikawa, Kaoru, Guide to Quality Control, UNIPUB/Kraus International, White Plains, NY 1986 Juran, J. M. and F. M. Gryna (Editors), Quality Control Handbook, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1988 Juran, J. M. and F. M. Gryna, Quality Planning and Analysis, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1980 Scholtes, Peter R., The TEAM Handbook, Joiner Associates, Madison, WI 53705-0445 Sherkenbach, William W., The Deming Route to Quality and Productivity, ASQC Quality Press, Milwaukee, WI 1988 Tribus, Myron, Deployment Flow Charting, Quality & Productivity, Inc., Los Angeles, CA 90024 Walton, Mary, The Deming Management Method, Putnam Publishing, New York, 1986 http://deming.eng.clemson.edu/pub/tutorials/qctools/ie460.txt