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ISO 9001 and the Star Structure: a team approach for quality performance.

It's common these days to see company after company receiving ISO certification.

However, the ways in which quality programs are executed and maintained can differ quite dramatically from one company to the next.

FMC Corporation's Material Handling Equipment Operation, located in Homer City, PA, has a unique approach to continuous improvement and quality which breaks traditional systems by embracing the philosophy of teamwork and employee empowerment.

The Homer City-based operation designs and manufactures a wide range of bulk material and parts handling equipment that is sold to a variety of industries, among which is the food industry. The operation structured its business into five distinct product lines while concurrently implementing the ISO 9001 Quality System.

To enhance the quality system, FMC developed an organizational setup consisting of series of teams called the "STAR STRUCTURE" to define and operate each product line's business unit.

These five point "stars" are actually teams, both functional and resource, that include membership from management, operations, site, personnel, sales, finance, purchasing, quality, engineering and human resources.

Each team has goals which are clearly defined and communicated, and which are evaluated with key measurements of performance.

Implementation of the ISO 9001 Quality System provided the necessary framework and tools for the teams to operate with continuous improvement. Each team has full responsibility and authority for its performance. Training, including Team Principles, Group Processes, Conflict Management, Problem Solving Principles and development of Operating Principles, was conducted to ensure the effectiveness of each team.

Initial ISO Quality System implementation efforts forced everyone to review their processes and procedures and ask, "WHY DO WE DO IT THAT WAY?" and "IS IT REALLY NECESSARY?" This "house cleaning effort" has resulted in numerous process, procedure and methods improvements. The system includes all elements of the organization which contribute to product quality.

Traditional responsibilities for quality have been replaced with a pro-active approach. "Right the first time" thinking has been adopted to reduce scrap and rework, while decreasing lead time, and individuals are responsible for their own quality performance. The documentation of processes, with procedure and work instructions, defines the activities of all functional areas. Defined acceptance criteria and workmanship standards ensure consistent quality throughout all areas.

The focus of each team's efforts can cover a range of business issues anywhere from refining manufacturing processes to new product information. For example, the Food Handling Systems Business Unit developed a "FAST TRACK" for production of its newest product line addition, the Syntron VF Electromagnetic Vibrating Conveyor. The team organized a more efficient work cell to respond to customer demand for shorter leads times, increased throughput and increased productivity.

The most important aspect relating to the ISO Quality System focuses on continuous improvement. By utilizing a Corrective and Preventive Action process, discipline is ensured to focus on activities adverse to the system and prompt appropriate action. Once a problem is identified, the root cause is determined and corrective and preventive action is established. Internal audits are conducted on a monthly basis to ensure compliance and effectiveness of the system. Corrective and Preventive Action are the keys to long-term continuous improvement in all work operations and processes.

All team members are actively involved in the Quality System, and a staff of approximately 20 trained internal auditors ensure system compliance.

The Quality System is very dynamic. Continual updates and expansions fully leverage the continuous improvement process. The implementation and effectiveness of the Quality System ultimately leads to increased customer satisfaction.

The Star Team Structure and the ISO 9001 Quality System make great partners. The Star Structure promotes improved communication throughout the entire organization. It continually challenges individuals to be top performers and allows the teams to have complete ownership of their operations. The ISO 9001 Quality System provides the necessary framework and resources for the individuals and teams to accomplish their goals. Results have shown that "Quality Does Happen Through People."
COPYRIGHT 1995 Frozen Food Digest, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Link, Ron
Publication:Frozen Food Digest
Date:Dec 1, 1995
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