The word “quality” has been applied to many initiatives, mostly by quality professionals and consultants. In the marketplace, as one example, the phrase that replaced “quality” was “continuous improvement,” which became “continual improvement,” and then “continuous quality improvement,” which is the phrase of choice in many healthcare organizations. The proliferation of terms has tended to confuse managers in the marketplace. ISO9001, ISO/TS16949, JIT, MBNQA, Six Sigma, Kaizen, Kanban, 5S, Lean, TPM, TQM, etc. are but a few of the initiatives confronting organizational leaders. No wonder managers are confused. Too many consultants are trying to sell the next “savior” to gain an advantage in the marketplace. The following may clarify some of the more relevant initiatives.
ISO9001. An international standard adopted in 1987 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) setting specific criteria for documenting and establishing a quality management system. It was recently updated in 2008. Adherence to ISO requirements not only shows that an organization has documented its quality management principles and procedures, it also shows that the organization operates according to them.
ISO/TS16949. In 2002, the Internal Automotive Task Force (IATF) and ISO adopted the technical specification #16949 for quality management systems, with particular requirements for automotive production and relevant service parts organizations. At a minimum, this standard provides suppliers to vehicle manufacturers a single quality management system recognized by IATF-participating companies.
ISO14001. The international standard used for assistance in implementing or improving a company’s environmental management system (EMS). Many companies, such as automotive manufacturers and various governmental agencies, are requiring suppliers to obtain certifications to demonstrate commitment to improving their EMS.
Six Key Players in the Six Sigma Initiative
Executive Sponsors. Executive sponsors are a key element in an effective Six Sigma program. They set the direction and determine the priorities for the organization. Executives receive training that includes a Six Sigma program overview, strategies and tools.
Champions. Six Sigma Champions are typically upper-level managers who control and allocate resources to promote process improvements. Champions are trained in the core concepts of Six Sigma and deployment strategies used by their organizations. Champions are expected to work with Black Belts to lead the implementation programs.
Master Black Belts. Six Sigma MBBs are typically dedicated full-time positions. They primarily serve as mentors and trainers to Black Belts and review project statuses. To be fully effective, MBBs should have been active, effective Black Belts. They also serve as a support arm to Executive Sponsors and Champions.
Black Belts. Six Sigma Black Belts are most effective in full-time positions. The term Black Belt is borrowed from the martial arts, where the BB is the expert who coaches and trains others as well as demonstrating a mastery of the art. Six Sigma BBs complete a rigorous training program using advanced statistical tools and demonstrate their efficiency of those tools in practical applications on specific projects.
Green Belts. Six Sigma Green Belts usually devote a certain percentage (generally 5 to 20 percent) of their time to a project to which they are assigned. GBs complete Six Sigma training and must demonstrate proficiency with the core statistical tools by using them for positive financial impact on assigned projects. GBs operate under the direction and guidance of a BB or MBB.
Yellow Belts. Every member of an organization involved in a Six Sigma initiative should have some training in the program. In some companies, this training can be four to six hours of familiarization with the process, expectations and goals discussed.
Just In Time (JIT). This inventory strategy is a lean methodology that provides for the delivery of material or product at the exact time and place where it will be used. When this system is implemented, there is a reduction of in-process inventory and its related costs, which in turn, can dramatically increase the return on investment, quality and efficiency of an organization. JIT uses some form of kanban to execute a “pull” system (see Kanban).
Kaizen. This method of continuous improvement in quality is used in all business areas. It was originally a Japanese management concept as part of the Toyota Production System. The word is taken from the Japanese kais (change) and Zen (good). Kaizen assumes that every aspect of our lives deserves to be constantly improved and strives to involve everyone. 5S is part of the kaizen framework.
5S. Another name for Lean 5S Manufacturing, attributed to the Toyota Production System. It is a rigorous methodology for continuous improvement to reduce waste and optimize productivity through maintaining an orderly workplace and using visual cues to achieve more consistent operational results. By implementing 5S, the workforce becomes empowered to control their own environments and consequently promote awareness of the 5S concept and principle of improvement. It centers on five pillars: sierra (sort), seiton (set in order), seiso (shine), seiketsu (standardize) and shitsuke (sustain).
Kanban. More of a tool than a philosophy. It takes its name from the Japanese word meaning sign or card. Kanban is related to JIT, but is in fact the means through which JIT is managed to form a “pull” system. This “pull” system ensures that product is provided to each customer on time and in the amount needed. This is accomplished with kanban cards visibly displayed with what is needed, when it’s needed and how much is needed. Benefits of this process are reduction in work-in-process, less space and lower cost of waste due to less inventory.
Lean Manufacturing. Lean manufacturing, or lean production, is often known simply as “Lean.” Basically, it is centered on creating more value with less work. It is a process management philosophy derived mostly from the Toyota Production System. Lean focuses on eliminating all waste in manufacturing processes. Normally, the production systems are characterized by optimum automation, just-in-time supplier delivery disciplines, quick changeover times, high levels of quality, continuous improvement and reduced operating expense. It is often seen as a more refined version of earlier efficiency efforts, building on the work of leaders such as Frederick Taylor and Henry Ford and learning from their mistakes. The main approach lies not in the tools, but the reduction of three types of waste: muda (non-value-adding work), muri (overburden) and mura (unevenness).
Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. The Baldrige Award was named after the former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and signed into law on August 20, 1987. This award was modeled after the Deming Prize, Japan’s highest award for business excellence, and focuses on organizational excellence. Its aim is to help organizations in the U.S. improve quality and productivity by promoting the use of TQM concepts. The annual award recognizes manufacturing companies, service companies, education, government and small businesses demonstrating exemplary quality in their practices, products and services. Studies have shown that national Baldrige winners have consistently outperformed even S&P 500 companies on operating income, sales growth, employee growth, return on sales, return on assets and stock price gain.
Six Sigma. This methodology provides businesses with the tools to improve the capability of their business processes. Six Sigma is a fact-based, data-driven philosophy of quality improvement that values defect prevention over defect detection. It drives customer satisfaction and bottom-line results by reducing process variation and eliminating waste; thereby providing a competitive advantage. It applies anywhere variation and waste exists and involves every employee in the organization. In a Six Sigma organization, two approaches are utilized: 1) DMAIC, a rigorous and robust method, utilizes five stages (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) to drive incremental improvements, and 2) DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify) is a more rigorous, lengthy methodology applied mostly to design for Six Sigma for new process or product creation or redesign.
Total Productive Maintenance. TPM aims to reduce loss due to equipment-related wastes like constant adjustments and machine breakdowns. TPM allows the worker to not only run the machine or equipment but to proactively maintain it. Cooperation among the operators and maintenance personnel is critical to fully achieving implementation of TPM and attaining the four zeros: zero defects, zero downtime, zero accidents and zero waste.
Total Quality Management. TQM is a management approach based on producing quality service as defined by the customer. TQM is defined as a quality-centered, customer-focused, senior-management-led process to achieve an organization’s strategic goals through continuous process improvement. TQM is not a program, but a systematic, integrated and organizational way-of-life directed at continuous improvement of all aspects of the value chain. TQM differs from other management styles in that it is more concerned with quality during production than it is with the quality as a result of production. TQM is a journey, not a destination! iBi