There is a saying, “What goes around, comes around” or you can look at this circle and considerate it the visual definition of “synergy”. There is a reason this is a circle. Management responsibility, resource management, product realization, measurement, analysis and improvement are interrelated. Take away any one of these and the ball, better known as your company profits, drops dead. It is another way of looking at Dr. Deming’s ‘Plan Do Check Act” model.
Looking at section .2 the top box in the circle is management responsibility. I have seen many corporate executives abdicate this point to the quality manager. Usually they pass along the responsibility but not the authority. So what is management responsible for doing?
- Steer the bus
This means providing a long term plan, as in a 10 year objective and nothing as vague as “make money”.
- Provide the fuel
Management must find the people, funds, equipment and raw materials to make the process work.
If a company is going to grow and remain in business there must be a written policy for doing business and goals to be achieved. Unless a company is a charity the basic is to make a profit. The question is how much profit? A company isn’t going to double in size without planning, or if it does, it won’t stay that way for long. Management must set out a clear and definitive game plan to get long term positive results.
The fuel is something else management must provide. Imagine making medicine with untrained people. The result would be catastrophic. Management must find the right people and provide training. Good people are hard to find, they should not be treated as a commodity or the long term growth will suffer.
Equipment is another resource management is responsible to provide. This does not mean going out and ordering a one of a kind machine to make your particular widget. It does mean making sure the machine consistently produces acceptable product. There is a tool called total productivity maintenance. I have seen examples where using team work and asking the operators for input has resulted in a machine which is 10 years old increasing in productivity by 30% and reducing variation by 50%. Normally productivity goes down and variation increases as a machine ages.
Raw materials are another matter. There is an old saying, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Raw materials must be capable of turning into good product. At one point I worked for a pharmaceutical company. We produced an injectable drug. The basic material was organic so there were variations. However on one particular lot an extraneous peak showed up in the gas chromatograph analysis. Checking backwards, that same peak had been in the raw material. Countless man hours were wasted because the raw material was not capable. Management had approve the purchase because they were desperate to fill a stock out situation and didn’t want to acknowledge the material was bad.
Having provided everything necessary to make the product it is time to do just that – produce something to sell. There is an element of QS 9000 I like to implement in ISO 9000 applications. It is called the Pre-Production Approval Process (PPAP). It tests the ability to make a consistent product over a reasonable duration of time, usually half a shift.
Once the product has been produced, it is time to measure and analyze for improvement and send it to the customer for feedback. One of my clients made toothpaste closures. They made millions of them and were very proud that they only had 12 open closures per 100,000 manufactured. The cost to the toothpaste company was huge down time. Every open closure shut the line down for cleaning for 10 minutes they were filling at the rate of 600 tubes per minute. Seven people stopped producing salable product and wielded scrub brushes for every open cap. With this feedback, my client designed a machine to make sure the closures snapped shut and removed those that did not. Cavity marking on the rejects gave the root cause of the problem and before too long they were whistling along at 3.4 parts per million open caps. Without the analysis and the customer feedback, my client would have lost a very important piece of business. Which would have impacted the long term plan.
So there you have it. The really good stuff for ISO 9000 is before you even get to the standard.