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Total quality control: a 'top down, bottom up' approach.

Questions about what approach to take to achieve total quality control are always difficult. What works best at one location may not work at another. The quality program developed at the Johnstown Corp. is the result of several years of experience and the help of many dedicated quality professionals.

Johnstown's approach has created a substantial reduction in scrap and rework. There also is a new positive attitude toward quality and the company.

Located in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Johnstown is a jobbing foundry that produces more than 24,000 tons of castings a year. Product lines manufactured by the foundry's 550 unionized workers include rolling mill rolls, continuous caster rolls, mill liners, and commercial castings for the U.S. Navy, and the automotive, steel and compressor industries.

The approach we developed and implemented at Johnstown makes five basic assumptions: * Workers are familiar with quality. A person

with experience in a specific task

will have an idea of what quality is. * Top-level management must be

involved in all areas and be committed

to improving quality. Workers must

have input into the quality control program,

and supervisors and managers

must listen as well as participate. * Development and implementation

must occur simultaneously. The best

quality control program will fail if it is

developed in a vacuum. * Quality responsibilities lie with all departments-from

accounting to the

melt floor to shipping. The more that

responsibility for quality is placed on

the person performing the task, the

more quality improvements will result. * Workers must participate in creating

their own quality program. Employees

must learn for themselves how to meet

direct quality goals. The same holds

true for the entire quality program. If

creating the program is a joint effort

among workers and management,

then all will have a stake in the

program's success. Johnstown's Approach

In Round One of Johnstown's total quality program, there are eight work teams consisting of 97 voluntary participants from diverse job backgrounds. Round Two, now in its initial stages, has 37 participants.

For the quality program to be successful, there must be strong commitment from top level management. This commitment must take several forms. Management must be willing to commit whatever resources are needed to ensure that quality is a top priority.

The second form of commitment must be a time investment in quality activities (such as visiting working groups or leading a quality committee). The manager who participates in every phase of the plan finds not only are the employees more committed but that lines of communication improve dramatically. It should be expected that it will take some time and effort for employees to become comfortable working together.

Channels of communication must be opened both vertically and horizontally throughout the organization. A quality policy group is formed from the top executives within an organization along with a quality consultant. The group's responsibilities include developing and implementing guidelines for the company.

They must also administer the overall quality plan and participate in each of the sectional quality groups. These groups consist of members of the quality policy group, middle-level managers and hourly employees. It is their responsibility to define chronic quality problems and to develop working groups to aid in solutions. Any SPC tools used to resolve these problems may become part of the long-term program after recommendation from the sectional quality group and the quality policy group.

Working groups are created to solve specific quality problems. Their task is predefined and their scope focused. It is imperative that the group examine one well-defined problem at a time to avoid confusion. When these techniques have been mastered, the group should begin working on actual problems. Quality Training

Basic SPC tools and training should be presented to the working group as soon as possible to monitor the critical dimensions of the problem. If, for example, the group can see success in an Average and Range Chart, it will be more likely to explore the use of other SPC tools.

A word of caution: In some cases too many SPC tools can be introduced too early in the program. This tends to complicate the program, resulting in slow progress and discouragement among participants. By providing problem-solving tools only when necessary, the group gains hands-on experience and SPC becomes an invaluable support.

The working group participates in the entire analysis process by developing, monitoring and implementing information needed to resolve a specific problem. By participating in the guided activities of the working group, each member will identify with the program's success. It is through this participation that the program and SPC tools are marketed to each person, resulting in individual responsibility for quality.

At Johnstown, relevant data is gathered by the working group with the guidance of a quality consultant. This ensures member participation and increased understanding of the entire quality process.

Operators gather their own data. For example, in the molding area, machine operators obtain information through scratch hardness tests and mold wash thickness measurements. In this case, five random measurements are taken. The acceptance criteria was set up before implementing the program.

Mold practices using Pareto analysis also were investigated. Process adjustments that were implemented resulted in reduced casting shrinkage through the addition of chills. Significant reductions in burned-in sand were achieved by using SPC techniques on scratch hardness, baume and mold wash thickness measurements.

Results are recorded and reported by the working group to both the sectional quality and quality policy groups. This allows the working group to report to management and increase the vertical integration within the program. The quality policy group reports the results of the overall program and the ideas and techniques of other departments to the individual working groups and teams.

Long-term recommendations on implementing specific SPC tools are made by the working group, although the decision and the responsibilities lie with the quality policy group. Most recommendations are incorporated. Significant Strides

So far, Johnstown has achieved a 10.5% reduction in scrap and rework companywide as a result of this quality approach. Other product lines are being investigated as part of the company's continuous quality program.

A dedicated quality program creates new attitudes in a company, including how employees "perceive their jobs." Such a program now makes the employee responsible for the quality of his own work while at the same time promoting teamwork.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Foundry Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Clutter, R.S.
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:May 1, 1991
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