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Chris’ visit paid major dividends in getting us thinking about upgrading and reworking our quality system to work for us instead of maintaining a certificate on the wall.
Using the valuable advice Chris gave us, we began with the Laboratory/Quality department (my area). We removed the obsolete daily management board from our hallway and threw it out. I ordered new magnetic boards for the hallway, spanning more than 20 feet. With input from the Technical director, we defined our core processes and daily metrics required to monitor defects. We are also using trend charts and Pareto charts to reduce defects in our core processes and the results are astounding thus far. My job now is to migrate this thinking to the plant, and we are in the process of putting together a Quality Team that will actually accomplish this. The old idea of an unmotivated ISO Contact in each area did nothing to improve the system and put all of the responsibility on the Quality Manager. This thinking is why our quality system was just a certification.
I also declined to renew our certificate with our registrar this year after 18 years, deciding that a fresh approach to quality must include a new registrar that is on board from the very start. Our former 31-page quality manual has been revised to only five pages. Our former 137-page Quality System Procedures Manual is now reduced to only six much better organized procedures, and we will build on those as we see value in doing so. We are on track to Lean. Our Management Review last month was actually exciting.
I have used Chris’ analogy of a fighter plane several times. In the Quality Team implementation meeting this morning, I told the Managers that we have owned a fine aircraft had certified pilots for 18 years now. Our pilot’s license is proudly displayed in the doorway of the administration building, but all we do is taxi down the runway, never actually flying the plane! There was a lot of nodding in the room, but gaining true enthusiasm from middle management on down to the floor is still a challenge.
Chris’ visit made an impact on me. Looking forward to continuing our relationship!
Laboratory and Quality System Manager
Sherwin Alumina Company, LLC