Archive for February, 2009

Is your quality or environmental management system improving or suffering because of the economy?

Friday, February 27th, 2009

You can’t avoid news about the current economic climate, whether it relates to here in the states or abroad. Despite all the reports of banks and financial institutions facing hardship, no other industry has been hit as hard as manufacturing, especially automotive.

As a result, have quality and enviromnmental efforts at your facility improved or have they been put on the back burner?

How has your company dealt with maintaining its quality and environmental goals and objectives?

Are your company’s ISO 9001, ISO/TS 16949 or ISO 14001 systems losing steam or are they becoming stronger as a means to be more competitive?

Log in and let us know what your company is doing. We want to hear your story.

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Disorganization costing you money? Try the 5S approach!

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Efficiency in production metrics are almost always tied to or affected by the condition of the work environment. The organizational state of a facility can often be a primary cause of soaring profitability or painful financial loss.

The 5S Practice (or System) is a technique used to establish and help maintain a suitable work environment in an organization (a requirement in ISO 9001 Clause 6.4). These practices were developed as part of the Toyota Production System which was influenced by Lean Manufacturing concepts, many of which were also developed by Toyota. The 5S’s in Japanese are Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke. In the U.S., they are referred to as Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. Regardless of language, these techniques designed to promote workplace organization, ensure adherence to standards and promote continual improvement.

Seiri – Sort
This first practice is simple – get rid of unwanted items by focusing on the core items that are needed to fulfill the requirements of the job and discard items that are not needed. Eliminate such items as excess inventory affecting warehouse space, transportation, labor costs, needed items, redundant parts, etc.

Seiton – Set in Order
The focus is on efficiency such as how quickly one can get the things needed and how quickly those things can be put away. Locate a specific place for essential items of a specific quantity, where needed.

Seiso – Shine
Look for areas in need of improvement. Clean up the workplace and at the same time focus on the identification of abnormalities, out of control conditions, areas in need of repair, etc.

Seiketsu – Standardize
The objective of standardization is to consolidate the first 3 S’s by establishing standard procedures and best practices to ensure that everyone carries out an individual activity the same efficient way.

Shitsuke – Sustain (or “Make it a habit”)
The objective of discipline is to sustain improvements and make further improvements by encouraging effective use of the “Plan-Do-Check-Act” model, or PDCA as it often referred. This is achieved through awareness of improvements and the encouragement to make future improvements.

Keep in mind that 5S can and will affect everyone and everything. It is just as relevant to an office as it is to a shop. Not only will this help to create an environment that is impressive to potential customers, it will help to create an environment that employees will appreciate and maintain.

Any good 5S stories? Let us know. Log in and post your comments.

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Corrective and Preventive Actions – a group effort!

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Although the process for corrective and preventive action can become a powerful tool for documenting continual improvement in ISO 9001 based standards, many companies allow this system to become the project of the Management Representative (MR). While it is true that the MR should be involved with maintaining the process, the MR should not be the only person involved in problem solving to determine root cause analysis, short term action, long term action, and effectiveness of corrective action closeout.

The best way to get the most out of your corrective action process is to have a cross functional team that is responsible for the process. This should not be interpreted as a recommendation for another meeting, but as an action item when the appropriate personnel are assembled for other key issues.

Remember that the most important part of solving a corrective action is root cause analysis. You can’t fix something when you don’t know how it is broken! Good tools to use can include “5 Why” analysis, fishbone diagrams (also referred to as Ishikawa diagrams), cause and effect diagrams, Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA), or anything else that addresses all possibilities for error.

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The ISO/TS 16949 CORE TOOLS alphabet soup of APQP, PPAP, FMEA, MSA, SPC

Friday, February 20th, 2009

For those who are completely new to the automotive supply chain or automotive industry, the term “Core Tools” refers to a series of manuals published by the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) that are supplements to the automotive quality standard ISO/TS 16949. The current version is ISO/TS 16949:2002 but will soon (within the first quarter 2009) become ISO/TS 16949:2009.

The following is a list of the core tools along with a brief explanation:

Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) – A guide for the detailed planning of how a product will be designed and manufactured. One of the outputs of this process is something called a “Control Plan” which is a detailed step by step listing of how a part is manufactured.

Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) – This document provides a listing of the different document levels and requirements needed to have a customer approve a part to be placed into production that will eventually make its way onto a vehicle.

Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA) – Aligned with the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) specification SAE J1739, this process is a great way to document and prioritize potential failures of a part or system.

Measurement System Analysis (MSA) – If you have ever done a Gage R&R (Repeatability and Reproducibility) study, this booklet explains the method used in the ANOVA-based Gauge R&R process.

Statistical Process Control (SPC) – By collecting data from samples at various points within the process using control charts, variations in the process that may affect the quality of the end product or service can be detected and corrected, thus reducing waste as well as the likelihood that problems will be passed on to the customer.

This extremely abbreviated guide to core tools may provide more questions than answers – that is why you should contact the experts at G3 Solutions.

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Lean or Six Sigma – which direction shall we go?

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

There are a number of continual improvement methods and strategies for companies looking to improve process performance. Two such programs, Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma, have become extremely popular initiatives for continual improvement and have been implemented by a number of different industries with some great results. However, each of these methods can be quite a task to bring into an organization.

Lean manufcturing uses a number of tools such as 5S, SMED, Error Proofing, Line Balancing, OEE, Kanban, Value Stream Mapping, Cellular Manufacturing and many others. Six Sigma consists of a five phase plan involving Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control or DMAIC which also have their subset of tools.

The trend over the last few years has ben to combine these efforts into what is being called Lean Six Sigma. Although these initiatives can produce real value, they can also produce great expense with little payoff if they are not implemented correctly. For some companies, these tools become nothing more than the “quality term du jour” and they never realize their full potential. This is where having a resource of experts can pay off dramatically – simply by eliminating the pitfalls of inexperience in using these tools.

If you need expertise in utilizing these powerful quality concepts, call the experts at G3 Solutions today or ask a question through this blog – just sign in and let us help!

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Internal Audits – more than just a quality exercise!

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

There is a requirement in most ISO 9001 based quality management standards to conduct an internal audit of the organization’s management system. The requirement is even a part of the environmental ISO 14001 standard. This should be viewed as more than just an exercise to “dot the i’s and cross the t’s”. An internal audit is a great opportunity to ensure the effectiveness of the system by providing employees with an avenue to spot issues and even suggest improvements.

Some valuable secondary effects of a well-executed internal audit can include:

  • An opportunity to train or reinforce the workings of the system. Auditors should let the auditees know the findings that were uncovered during the audit and also provide the correct information on where to find answers to questions regarding the system.
  • Employee feedback on potential process improvement actions. Employees that perform many of the key process functions often have good ideas on increasing the efficiency and ease of the job.
  • A feeling of inclusion and teamwork in helping to make the company better. This can be the catalyst for change in an indifferent attitude toward company policies and procedures.

    If you’re not getting enough out of your internal audit process, contact G3 Solutions to find out how we can help!

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    Are big changes in store for ISO/TS 16949?

    Monday, February 16th, 2009

    According to the IATF website (, The 2009 version of ISO/TS 16949 will be out sometime during the first quarter following the ballot of the ISO Technical Committee 176. The revision reflects the changes in ISO 9001:2008.

    ISO/TS 16949:2009 introduces no new or changed requirements from ISO/TS 16949:2002. ISO 9001:2008 is based on clarifications or amendments to the existing requirements of ISO 9001:2000 and those that are intended to improve consistency with ISO 14001:2004. This should not make ISO/TS 16949 implementation any more difficult for companies looking to take on this standard.

    Certification Bodies and Organizations are expected to understand and apply the amendments to ISO/TS 16949:2009. Application of the clarifications related to ISO 9001:2008 requirements in the boxed text of ISO/TS 16949:2009 is effective not later than 120 days after the release of ISO/TS 16949:2009.

    For more information or assistance with making sure your system is up to speed, contact G3 Solutions.

    Customer Satisfaction – your reality vs. customer perception

    Sunday, February 15th, 2009

    One of the most important requirements of ISO 9001 is located in clause 8.2 of the standard. It asks an organization to measure the perception of how your company is viewed by customers. This requirement goes far beyond proving that you deliver perfect product or service 100% of the time, even though you may have hard data that supports the statement. What you may not be measuring about perception could turn out to be the reason why your customer may form a relationship with a competitor and possibly move your company out of the picture completely.

    Customer satisfaction involves not only quality and delivery, but also those factors that can have a dramatic impact on how much your customer wants to deal with your company. When analyzing customer perception, information should be collected on items such as question or problem resolution turnaround time, response time to RFQs, ease of contacting the right person, etc… These items should not be viewed as just “warm fuzzies” of customer relations, but rather as areas that can cement relationships with customers and become more valuable than just discount pricing.

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    ISO Implementation – Get People Involved!!

    Friday, February 13th, 2009

    The proper implementation of any quality management system should invole all employees in some manner, regardless of the standard. Many times it is common to see procedures and work instructions developed by personnel who do not (or have never) been part of that function or process. This can be one of the biggest mistakes a company can make in implementing a quality system.

    One of the key principles that ISO 9001 and many other standards were based on is the involvement of people. People at all levels are the essence of an organization and their full involvement enables their abilities to be used for the organization’s improvement.

    The resulting output of employee involvent can provide numerous benefits, such as:

  • Motivated, committed and involved people within the organization.
  • Innovation and creativity in furthering the organization’s objectives.
  • People being accountable for their own performance.
  • People eager to participate in and contribute to continual improvement.

    Applying the principle of involvement of people typically leads to employees:

  • understanding the importance of their contribution and role in the organization.
  • identifying constraints to their performance.
  • accepting ownership of problems and their responsibility for solving them.
  • evaluating their performance against their personal goals and objectives.
  • actively seeking opportunities to enhance their competence, knowledge and experience.
  • freely sharing knowledge and experience.
  • openly discussing problems and issues.

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    ISO 9001/ISO 14001 – More popular than American Idol !!!

    Thursday, February 12th, 2009

    Well, OK, not really – but now that we have your attention, here are a few quick ISO facts for you to ponder. (Yeah, we’re geeks! We enjoy this ISO stuff!)

    IT’S A FACT! – ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 14001:2004 are implemented by over a million organizations in 175 countries!

    ANOTHER FACT! – As of December 2007, there were 951,486 certificates for ISO 9001 globally!

    ONE MORE INCREDIBLE FACT! – As of December 2007, there were 154,572 certificates for ISO 14001 globally!

    Amaze your boss and co-workers! Be the envy of your sphere of influence! Dazzle friends, family and loved ones! These exciting tidbits of ISO info are sure to impress at the next company meeting or social function!

    On second thought, don’t say anything. Avoid becoming a social outcast and just simply take pleasure in knowing you’re an ISO trivia master!

    Visit today for more thrilling information on ISO!