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August 6, 2012

Why Review?

By rhernandez August 6, 2012

The purpose of conducting management review is for the management team to get together at determined intervals to

Management review meetings are critical to the success of the organization.

Is everyone on the same page?

discuss how effective its business is. This included looking for “opportunities for improvement and the need for changes” to how the business is run.

To some organizations, holding management reviews is as dreaded and avoided as going to the dentist. Even dentist trips should occur twice a year for cleaning, so I recommend against annual reviews.

So how often should “Management Review” be held?

When should management review “results of audits”?

Why not within 5 working days after the audit is held?

When should management review “customer feedback”?

Why not the same or the same day received or the following day?

Or why not at a weekly management meeting and review applicable items? How often should management review open “action items”?

How often should management review key performance results (aka Quality Objectives)?

Certainly not annually.

You may have picked up on the recurring theme in the examples above. The answer to “How often the activities listed in “5.6, Management Review” (ISO 9001:2008) need to be reviewed?” is, it depends. It depends on how timely and effective you want your appropriate action to be. The ISO 9001:2008 standard does not say that all the activities listed in “5.6, Management Review” have to be reviewed at the same time. As long as all items of 5.6 are covered and records are kept, whatever frequency of management reviews enables the organization to run its business most effective is acceptable.

How often do you review?

March 20, 2012

Achoo! Uh-oh, I think it’s the flu

By Esteban Pedraza March 20, 2012
The flu shot prevents recipients from contracting the flu.

Have you gotten your flu shot?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2003 American businesses lost earnings due to influenza illnesses and loss of life was $16.3 billion. What does this figure mean in a day to day business context? In 2005, the average per-employee cost of absenteeism was $660 a day in lost productivity according to CCH incorporated (a leading provider of human resources and employment law information). How can companies eliminate this loss of money, this waste?

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu, according to the CDC, is to get a yearly flu vaccine, but good health habits and antiviral medications are other measures that can help protect against the flu. Studies have shown that American companies have had some success reducing the number of sick days taken by workers by offering the flu vaccine at the plant or office, not only is this more convenient for employees but it also reduces the time employees have to take away from work to receive the vaccination.

Whether the flu vaccine is offered through an employer sponsored event or off site one of the biggest barriers for employees to taking the flu vaccine is lack of information/understanding about the flu and flu vaccine. Some misconceptions regarding the flu vaccine are that you can get the flu from the vaccine itself or you are protected from the vaccine you received three years ago. One of the company’s measures to prevent seasonal flu should always include educating the employees on what the flu is, how it can hurt you and how the flu vaccine can help.

Companies should always educate employees on good health habits and strategies to prevent the spread of germs.

Always Remember:

  • Wash hands with soap and water and/or use an alcohol-based hand rub
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze & throw the tissue in the trash after using it
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them

The CDC has put together a FREE toolkit for businesses and employers that provide educational material that can be used to fight the seasonal flu and help companies eliminate the loss of money caused by the flu (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/business/).

March 8, 2012

EHS: Profit Center or Circumstantial Overhead?

By christophermeeks March 8, 2012

Historically, most companies have viewed their EHS department as a necessary evil that must be retained to avoid regulatory infractions.  However, some companies have shifted their thinking to include their EHS departments as profit centers through re-classifying wastes as revenue streams and identifying opportunities for cost reductions and cost avoidance.  This transition is becoming more noticeable as companies implement ISO programs, look for ‘Greener’ products and attempt to reduce the use of raw materials.  The following include techniques to demonstrate to executive managers that an EHS department can serve as more than just an overhead expense:

  • Lighting Upgrades – improve the quality of lighting in work areas, reduce cost, reduce certain pollutants emitted when generating electricity
  • Finding Markets for ‘Wastes’ – re-classify ‘wastes’ as feedstock in another company’s process to eliminate disposal costs, receive revenue, reduce regulatory requirements
  • Searching for Product Alternatives – compare ‘real’ price of existing materials versus ‘real’ price of using less hazardous materials
  • Deploy ‘Source Reduction’ – evaluate processes to implement procedures that significantly reduce or completely eliminate waste before it is created

And, as always, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT.  Without an accurate baseline, results are hard to demonstrate.

February 7, 2012

ISO Excited!

By rhernandez February 7, 2012
Quality Control 4

Image via Flickr

What are the benefits of running your business systematically?

  1. Setting goals and establishing a culture of customer satisfaction and continual improvement enables an organization to maintain and grow.
  2. Working with employees and gaining consensus of the best way to conduct different processes (procedures) and activities (work instructions) ensures buy in, efficiency and productivity.
  3. Documenting best practices ensures consistency (all perform processes and activities in the same, accepted best way) and continuity (both current and future employees perform processes and activities in the same, accepted best way).
  4. Monitoring and measuring processes to prevent problems from occurring and taking long term corrective actions when problems do occur leads to increased productivity and profitability.
  5. Effectively training and enabling employees ensures highly qualified and motivated employees and results in higher productivity, increased customer satisfaction and improved profitability.

The ISO family of standards (ISO 9001, AS9100, AS9110, ISO 14001, etc.) provides guidelines for conducting and managing business systematically, efficiently and effectively.

February 2, 2012

Coaching To Accelerate Improvement Projects

By ayanez February 2, 2012

There are several elements that can affect the time to complete an Improvement Project (IP). The following is a partial list than can influence the time to finish a project:

  • Project selection that is relevant and linked to corporate goals
  • Type of project (e.g., Kaizen, Lean, Six Sigma or Design for Lean Six Sigma (DFLSS))
  • Scope of project
  • Project financial impact
  • Ease of implementation
  • Roles & Responsibilities of Stakeholders
  • Project sponsor support or engagement
  • Training
  • Coaching Green (GB) or Black Belts (BB) candidates
Coach Fitz

Image via Flickr

As GB/BB concludes their training, they are assigned an IP that they would facilitate and take to fruition. Some belts think that Lean Six-Sigma (LSS) is about using as many tools as possible for each phase of the DMAIC methodology. This is where the coach can provide feedback on what tools make sense to use and provide a direction on the next steps.

The coach can also lead the facilitations of the first kaizen events and have the belts participate on the event, and learn from it, so that they can lead such event.

The coach does not need to be an expert on the process but needs to have a vast experience on the DMAIC or DFLSS methodology. The coaching sessions should not be prescriptive, meaning guiding the belt step by step, but rather should be treated like a sounding board where the belt can bounce ideas.

Coaching should take place on a biweekly basis and should last for about one hour. The coaching is more efficient if the belt provide information before each coaching session.

The bottom line is not to overlook coaching sessions.

Do you use coaching in your company? Have you seen a difference in the impact of project completed?

November 1, 2011

Slips and Trips and Falls – Oh MY!

By Esteban Pedraza November 1, 2011

According to OSHA slips, trips, and falls constitute the majority of general industry accidents. They cause 15% of all accidental deaths, and are second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities. It’s no secret that slip, trip and fall accidents increase substantially during the winter months. However, Slip, Trips and Fall incidents during inclement weather are preventable if we have a system in place to assess and manage the risks.

Caution: Wet Floor Sign

The system should identify the outdoor areas used by employees/ pedestrians most likely to be affected by water and ice, for example: – building entrances, parking lots, walkways, shortcuts, sloped areas and areas constantly in the shade or wet.

The following are recommendations to help guard against Slips, Trips and Falls during inclement weather:

Always try and wear the best non-skid shoe possible, especially paying attention to the type of weather you will be exposed to. Shoes that have worn, slick soles should not be worn. Avoid high heels during inclement weather. Select something that has a large surface area, which has good traction. If you work in an area where there is a lot of water, then pay special attention to brands that have superior anti-skid properties.

Action should be taken whenever wet/freezing temperatures are forecasted. Local weather stations and their web sites are a great source of information.

  • Designate a Weather Team
  • Encourage employees to monitor weather reports to help prepare the workplace.
  • Increase awareness by posting daily weather briefings.
  • Distribute sand, salt or ice melt before employees are scheduled to arrive.
  • Use salt, sand, ice melt or similar on areas prone to be slippery in frosty, icy conditions.
  • Put a procedure in place to prevent an icy surface from forming and/or keep pedestrians off the slippery surface
  • Divert pedestrians to less slippery walkways and barrier off existing ones.
  • If warning cones are used, remember to remove them once the hazard has passed or they will eventually be ignored.
  • Institute frequent floor surface monitoring by designated staff throughout a weather event.
  • Have dry mops and wet floor signs readily available.
  • Consider closing side entrances if you lack the resources for frequent inspection and maintenance.
  • Post an employee at entrances during peak hours to encourage wiping feet on mats. You can also post a sign to get attention.
  • Purchase entry walk-off mats and make sure that they are not so thick as to block the swing of entry doors.
  • Extend mats 8 to 12 feet into the entrance to allow for the removal of moisture from shoes. A rule of the thumb is to have the mat long enough so that each footsteps on the mat three times.
  • Be sure walkways are clear before releasing staff early from work during storms.

October 20, 2011

Is “Tribal Knowledge” good enough?

By rhernandez October 20, 2011

According to Masaaki Imai in his book Gemba Kaizen – A Common Sense, Low-Cost Approach to Management, management’s two major functions are maintenance and improvement of processes. A basis for both is establishing standards.

Don't kill the tribal knowledge

Is your tribal knowledge good enough?

Standards:

  1. Represent the best, easiest and safest way to do a job.
  2. Are the best way to preserve knowledge and expertise thereby ensuring consistency and continuity.
  3. Provide a way to measure performance.
  4. Provide a way to improve. Maintenance means following the established standard; upgrading standards is improvement.

Standardization is required to build a viable quality system. If you choose to depend on “tribal knowledge”, improvement, consistency and continuity of processes are only as good as our memories.

July 11, 2011

Have the next great “green” product idea?

By Jennifer Wilson July 11, 2011

Greenovation Logo

If you do, then enter a Greenovation Contest, a competition that encourages companies to pursue the development of green product concepts. This Greenovation Contest offers DFW area companies an opportunity to win a grand prize package of services that will help winners take a green product idea and turn it into a real product.

More information about the contest visit http://greenovationcontest.com/.

Dates and prize package information coming soon!  Stay tuned!

April 19, 2011

Are you really open to new ideas?

By kmiddelkoop April 19, 2011

It was the second day of the E3 process and still the company refused to believe or accept that there were opportunities to improve.  The day before we had shown them lights left on, areas over lit, compressed air leaks and poorly insulated equipment.

Recycling Container

Recycle by coljox, on Flickr

The facility manager was a long time employee of the company that had been in business for over 50 years. He nursed an unlit cigar that he held in the side of his mouth.  I keep asking myself why did he not want to change?  Could it have been that the company was making lots of money or the fact that he was close to retirement?  Maybe he had just gotten lazy and was set in his ways. Was I going to be like him one day?  

So we keep to the agenda of the E3 (Energy, Environment, Economy)…an on-site 2 day training to help manufacturers understand ways to reduce costs, utilities and other impacts to the environment.  We took the group for a walk outside their buildings to look at things…we had just trained them on Learning to See, an exercise to help identify non-value outputs from their processes.   The group included TMAC staff and 4 employees of the company.  This included the maintenance manager, operations manager, quality engineer and someone from the sales staff. 

Learning to See

As we walked around the property the maintenance manager commented saying “you guys just won’t give up..there is nothing out here to find”.  We were running out of time, just one more hour and the workshop would be over. This was going to be a disaster…. So we walked up to one of the 60 yard solid waste containers, it was closed.  I stood the group together in front of the dumpster and asked the team how much they spent each year on disposal.  They all looked at each other and said “oh maybe $4,000 per year”.

Why Are We Doing This?

So we took a look inside and discovered that there were over 100 wood pallets inside.  Then someone said that this was just one of 3 containers that were picked up weekly.   Then the operation manager turned to the others and asked “why are we doing this? How long have we been doing this?”  For the first time the facility mangers cigar pointed to the ground as they all look puzzled.  Once again the E3 process produced the results we were looking to find.  The actual cost to dispose of their wood pallets was over $60,000 per year. This expense could be fully eliminated through recycling or reuse. 

I slept better that night knowing that it wasn’t up to me to find future opportunities, but to just let the process lead the way.

April 14, 2011

Competing With Low-Cost Rivals

By rbergs April 14, 2011

After listening to the webinar Leading Strategies for Manufacturers Against Low-Cost Competitors, presented by Mark Hehl of Hehl & Associates, through IndustryWeek, I found it validating that many of the concepts that we, at TMAC, discuss with our customers were some of the best ways to compete.

Is Manufacturing in China Really a Better Deal?

While the talk focused on China, which is by far not the only low-cost manufacturing country, many of the findings are common regardless of the country.  Companies are lured by the low-cost promised on their purchase order, but neglect to consider unexpected costs associated with doing business outside of the US.

bottle manufacture

Image via Flickr by D W S

With China specifically, there is a steady increase in labor rates as workers demand more money and become more skilled.  Ironically, while China has a large population, the one-child rule has limited the available work force, again leading to increases in wages.  As current workers become better trained, there is a problem with retention of workers, requiring factories to compete for the highly skilled.  The bottom line is increased labor rates are only a small part of the story, fluctuating exchange rates and inflation, are usually ignored when deciding to use off-shore suppliers.

Going the Distance

Off-shore suppliers have other associated supply-issue costs like on-time delivery, quality expectations, communication barriers, and cultural issues.  Time and time again, I’ve heard horror stories of a delivery being late. Instead of using (the planned) surface means of shipping, air transportation is all of the sudden needed, adding a cost of up to 8 times more than originally budgeted.  In the beginning of the relationship, the quality of the parts is adequate, but as time goes on, the quality starts to degrade. With communications, especially if there are significant distances between the supplier and the company (say Texas to China) if something is wrong, it may take a day or two to communicate the issue, let alone resolve it.  Some cultures do not discuss problems at the time corrective action could (and should) be taken. These additional, usually unforeseen, costs are driving companies to bring their manufacturing facilities back to North America – so the logical question is How do we keep them from leaving in the first place?

Keeping Manufacturing Stateside

Implement Lean Methodologies. Lean isn’t exclusive to the plant floor; it can be implemented in administrative processes too!  Lean focuses on cost containment, reduction and/or elimination of waste, and increasing capacity without increasing personnel or equipment.  A poor Lean implementation can cause more problems than it solves. Lean is a journey, not a destination. Industryweek’s recommendation was to hire an external organization to aid in your Lean deployment.

Competitor and/or Market Intelligence.  Look into what your customers want: What is important to them?  Talk to customers who purchase from competitors and see what they like and dislike.  Look for weaknesses, and exploit them.

Innovate. Quite simply look at new products for existing markets, new markets for existing products, and new services that you can offer customers.  Companies that innovate earn double the profit of companies that do not.  When was the last time you introduced a new product?

Offer Superior Customer Service. Determine what your customer really wants.  How? Ask.  Using Lean in the administrative side of the business, your customer service representatives can be more flexible and often respond faster, something that it is difficult for off-shore competitors to do.

What Does it All Mean?

The entire webinar can be summed up:

If you implement Lean, you can use the savings to innovate, offer superior customer service and competitor intelligence.

The presentation was interesting and informative; I recommend it as valuable food for thought for any manufacturer or business owner.

Are you considering moving your manufacturing operations overseas? Have you moved your manufacturing operations back from overseas? Why? Have you implemented any of the suggestions above? What was your experience?

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