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Top 5 ways to fail with quality in manufacturing

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

By Samantha Mooney

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1. Do it on your own without a certification

We realized that we needed support in moving to the next level of quality. While you can teach the principals; having a structured, documented system in place can bring people together, drive purpose and ensure accountability checks along the way.

We brought Mustafa Shraim, a quality consultant, in to help prepare us to implement the ISO 9001 certification by spring, 2023.

He seemed the perfect fit as a SQPS consultant that has implemented ISO 9001, IATF 16949 (automotive), ISO 13485 (medical devices), and ISO 14001 (environmental); as well as being certified as a Principal QMS Auditor by the International Register of Certificated Auditors (IRCA).

According to Shraim, “People are not aware about what the ISO 9001 certification is all about. Almost every company I work with starts by thinking their work will be altered, there will be more paperwork and don’t open their mind to the fact that this will make their process more efficient by the end of it.”

It also helps employees have clear instructions. No longer relying on memory or one person training someone training someone else, which changes based on the person.

“An ISO certification gives customers peace of mind since there is a third-party audit, and they know you are following procedures. It saves the customer money so they don’t have to audit themselves. ISO is not going to certify Valence’s product. It is certifying Valence’s system - its processes and how they interact with one another. For example, a customer complaint. Now you have a process to go through. You don’t have to think of new ways of doing things,” said Shraim.

2. Quality, people have to know it coming in

“If you let everyone who has experience

change the process as they choose, you’ll

have a fragmented process.”

“Quality is not intrinsic for the most part. It can be taught. If you let everyone who has experience change the process as they choose, you’ll have a fragmented process. No one will do it to standards put in place. You can still improve the system. You just have to do it thoughtfully,” Shraim points out.

You have to have someone who is engaged and willing to learn. That’s all.

Shraim advises, “Let people think and give their ideas on improving the process. Always involve people on the line to empower and engage people. You don’t want people thinking that they are just doing a job.”

3. Don’t look for patterns

You have to know the reason for the variation

People sometimes think that little bumps in performance are a big thing and they overreact. That doesn’t help. Then, they see a big signal and they don’t react to it.

Shraim introduced statistical process controls in his consulting projects while working with the big three including Ford in the 1990s to make their processes more stable and predictable.

Shraim pulled from William Edwards Deming's teachings and philosophy. His most notable study was with Ford when they simultaneously manufactured a car model with transmissions made in Japan (by Mazda) and the United States (by Ford). The Japanese had more precise tolerances, which made the cars run more smoothly with fewer issues, using statistical process controls.

“I helped people understand Deming’s warning against using money to increase productivity.”

“I helped people understand Deming’s warning against using money to increase productivity. Improve quality first. You get fewer defects and the customer is more satisfied. When focusing on quality, your productivity improves immediately because of less errors, rework, etc. Your profitability improves as well.”

4. Fear & avoid the quality audit

There are three ways Shraim has seen people react negatively to ISO audits.

In Shraim’s experiences,

“Being fearful of more work.

It’s about documenting their own processes. For example, the feasibility review. People may be doing it already, may not be documenting or doing it consistently but they are doing it. ISO is very flexible. You decide the review mechanism that fits your environment to know if you should take a project on.

Inevitably, people will panic during an external audit.

This will happen. Somebody threw up because they couldn’t handle the situation. People act busy because they are just scared.

Avoidance is a technique to get out of audits.

I did volunteer audits with American Society for Quality (ASQ), helping companies with their internal audits, or a prep audit before they were going to be certified.

… the person wasn’t in their office for the day.

… the maintenance manager wouldn’t be there at the scheduled time.

… you page them and nobody can locate them.

My point is that people avoid. Sometimes people aren’t ready. There are so many examples of people panicking or change topics during an audit conversation.

Shraim jokes, “If all else fails give the ISO auditor a hard hat with the quality policy written on it so the employee can read it when asked.”

5. Let employees do it, management is busy

A lack of seriousness by management will trickle down and people won’t believe in the quality system anymore.

“Management’s commitment is a big thing – if there is no commitment to quality, maybe they commit to manage with money. That won’t work if you don’t look at the root cause,” Shraim said. “When management is not committed, employees will say, we’ve done this before, management changed and we don’t do it anymore—I’ve heard this many times.”



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