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ISO 9000 installation: keeping it in-house.

As this small foundry discovered, writing customer-required ISO (Q90) manuals and procedures itself keeps installation costs down.

It is expensive to put in an ISO 9000 quality assurance system unless you write it yourself. At Southern Cast, Inc., we chose to write our own and found the experience rewarding and cost-effective. In our case, it was tailored to our exact needs without the encumbrances of a third party.

Southern Cast is a gray and ductile iron foundry specializing in short-run pallet mold, floor mold and cope and drag prototype and custom work. It employs 25 persons and does about $1.5 million per year in gross billings.

Several of our customers demanded we prove our quality by installing an ISO 9000 (or in this country) ANSI/ASQC Q90-1987 system.

After seeing the costs for engaging a consultant to write our quality manual, William Ruettgers, president of Southern Cast, charged me with the mission because I have a background as a military specifications technical writer.

Happily, it was not the daunting task we were led to believe. If anyone in your company can write an outline and a declarative sentence, there is no reason why a perfectly acceptable quality manual and set of procedures worthy of ISO 9000 registration cannot be written in-house.

My basic tools for the job were the company typewriter and a copy of the ANSI/ASQC Q90 specifications. While many excellent manuals are available to help you write a quality manual of this type, I used only the basic specification--because it is self-explanatory. Your local library and a copying machine can provide you with this quality "spec."

Five Steps to Quality

To put in our quality system, the task was five-fold:

* create a quality manual (the management "road map" to quality procedures at Southern Cast);

* write a procedures manual (tells management how to implement quality policies);

* create a work and inspection instructions manual (the "hands-on," how-to part of the quality accounting system);

* forms development (forms we "pirated" from an obliging customer who was the original requester that we implement a quality system);

* develop production-floor graphics (to allow quality data collection, ensure workstation task compliance and show people with pictures how their job is to be done).
Table 1. Hours Needed For In-House Quality System Installation

Quality Manual Writing 40 hours
Procedures Manual Writing 80 hours
Work/Inspection Instructions 80 hours
Forms Development 24 hours
Floor Graphic Aids 16 hours

Personal Training Aids

Video camera demonstrations 16 hours
Statistical Process Control (SPC) training 16 hours

With these five elements, I developed lists of specifications that apply to both quality and procedures manuals. I used these lists (consisting of 18-20 items) as outline chapter headings for the manual. This method of outlining was necessary, since manuals must be cross-indexed to chapter and verse of the initial specification, just like a legal document--which it essentially is. It also makes organizing the paperwork that much easier.

Next, I went out to the production room floor to create flowcharts of production and inspection procedures, and to write individual work and inspection instructions at each workstation. These instructions should consist of no more than 5-20 sentence orders describing the task, such as: "Moldmaker shall insert the flask with pattern into the jolt squeezer in accordance with work instruction number XXX." It doesn't need to be anything fancy--just say what you are doing and show how you track that activity.

Remember, the point of any quality system is to demonstrate to your customers on paper that you are in control of your production and inspection process. Let how you do business dictate the form and substance of your finished manuals. Don't forget that "not applicable" is a perfectly acceptable manual chapter heading for a particular function that doesn't occur in your plant.

From there, I worked backward and up the management chain, writing the procedures manual and finally, the quality manual. Total time expenditures for putting in the system are shown in Table 1.


Next, we engaged the services of a Q90 registrar affiliated with the Registrar Accreditation Board (RAB) of the American Society for Quality Control in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The registrar performs an audit of facilities to certify that the quality system performs to specifications.

As a matter of applied common sense, we chose to be audited and registered by a firm affiliated with the testing bureau already conducting our gage certification and calibration for the shop's inspection equipment. For Southern Cast, the audit and registration process will cost us about $6000, plus an additional $1500 twice a year to maintain our certification and permission to put the Q90 stamp on our merchandise.

One way to bury the cost of registration quickly is to work with a customer with a quality system already in place. In this way, data can be shared in such a way that orders from that client will follow immediately upon registration. This unspoken "quid pro quo" is a normal part of the quality business, as no client will reasonably demand you install a quality system if he or she has no intention of buying from you.

We wrote our quality manual to simultaneously address the more stringent quality assurance requirements of a major automotive client but within the format of specification--killing two birds with one stone.

In the course of installing our system, many quality consultants surfaced, offering to jump in and help. We found that if you do opt to use a consultant, keep these things in mind:

* no reputable quality systems installer will tell you, "I'll show you how to put in your system, but you have to write it."

* it is not unusual for the installed quality system to fail its first audit. It is highly improper for the quality consultant not to stay on the job as a part of a standard contractual performance guarantee until the system works.

* a consultant's ASQC or RAB affiliation is not enough to guarantee the installed system will satisfy your customer or the ISO 9000 specifications' requirements. Ensure that your installation consultant knows the foundry business and is not confusing your workers with meaningless "warm fuzzies" training or useless quality consciousness-raising seminars. There is no substitute for practical experience.

* get a written, itemized lump sum price or not-to-exceed quotation from the consultant and hold him to it. If he or she has installed a system before, they should know by now what it costs to put in a system.

* AFS has developed a consulting service satisfying all of the above criteria. Known as the "AFS ISO Prep Program," it offers consulting, training and on-site coaching to prepare foundries and vendors for assessment in the shortest possible time.

The object of writing any quality system is to establish traceability of gauges, inspection procedures, product specifications and production procedures to a known and generally accepted industry standard. In this way, the customer knows that each time he buys something from a firm with a working quality system, he will get consistently made products with a predictable level of quality.

Side Benefits of Quality Systems

* you can renegotiate your liability insurance for defective products with your carrier if your quality system is traceable to the National Bureau of Standards and related quality-regulating bureaus;

* certain costs of operations are significantly reduced, especially rejects and rework items costs;

* workers become more productive if they have a voice in plant operations, which a continuous-improvement philosophy facilitates without rocking the corporate boat.

Reality of a Quality System--What It Can't Promise Your Foundry

Quality systems are not panaceas or magical talismans capable of solving all problems of a foundry operation. Those problems quality engineering specifically do not address are:

Operations efficiency improvement in terms of direct productivity per man-hour and material analysis. The big three of manufacturing activity optimization--man-hour and materials tracking practice; the formulating of manufacturing pro formas; and fine-tuning the management to labor ratio--are ignored by quality departments.

Engineering and accounting departments (not the quality department) are the heart of any manufacturing activity. To put it more bluntly, unit cost in man-hours and material times daily output is the bottom line. Anyone so rash as to put in a letter-perfect Deming-style production line has just bought a one-way ticket to bankruptcy court. The Japanese engineers Deming taught never have and never will abandon the concept of the per capita quota.

Direct cost justification of quality systems installation. When a foundry purchasing agent reviews the specifications of competing vendors, it is standard industry practice to demand an equipment first cost amortization schedule from all bidders to find out how long it will take for the capital equipment to pay for itself. In fact, many equipment vendors routinely post performance bonds to assure the buyer that the subject machine pays off on schedule. Try to get such a schedule or performance bond from a quality consultant for the proposed system.

The immediate quality professional's response to that accusation is that "cost of quality" calculations are measured in terms of the cost of returned parts, and the savings resulting from reducing returns can determine the rate of quality payback. Yet, I have never seen this "cost of quality" worked out in detail against the cost of new inspection equipment, cost of systems installation, cost of employee training and related ancillary costs.

While extravagant claims for quality improvement activities are made, I have never witnessed a net improvement of operations profitability in excess of 10% arise as a result of heightened quality activity.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Foundry Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:includes related article; part 4
Author:O'Brien, Walter J.
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Oct 1, 1993
Previous Article:CEOs voice concern for foundry industry in 2000.
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