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Total quality management.

Bringing your foundry's quality to the level dictated by today's market can't be done just by buying new machinery--quality starts upstairs and never stops.

Emphasis on quality has grown incredibly over the years, and customers won't settle for anything less than the best. If foundries don't believe that quality has become the top priority in the business, they should ask their peers who are filing for Chapter 11 to hold a spot in line for them.

Poor quality can't be blamed on the men and women on the foundry floor. Obtaining top quality takes more than careful calibration. Quality starts upstairs. Without a commitment from management, foundries will be left watching as their customers are snatched from under their noses.

As an industry, do we need improvement? An article from the January 16, 1992 issue of Purchasing, "Quality in Metals, Report Card '92," handed out some less-than-satisfactory grades to castings. Do we need improvement? Our customers believe we do, and that's what matters.

Changes in Management

Crisis management has become a way of life in which managers tend to create their own problems. The foundry industry is emerging from an era of heavy-handed management. Business school graduates and MBAs are applying many theories of management and, with each new application, are drifting farther away from the principles of good interpersonal relationships.

The January 27, 1992 issue of Time featured a management article titled: "Is Mr. Nice Guy Back?" Written by John Greenwald, the article stated that with worker morale shredded by layoffs, some managers are trying kinder, gentler ways to restore competitiveness to American industry.

It was reported that the emphasis on teamwork and trust is finally making its mark. These theories were first proposed by U.S. social scientists in the 1950s and 1960s as the key to creating high quality. American companies cold-shouldered these theories, while Japanese managers embraced them. The article stated: "These ideas are coming back now because theories, while Japanese managers embraced them. The article stated: "These ideas are coming back now because of the quality movement here. U.S. senior managers have decided they have got to catch up. That has helped make 'empowerment' a buzz word for the '90s."

American business and labor desperately need what total quality (TQ) has proven it can deliver--continuing customer and employee satisfaction and increased productivity.

What Is Total Quality?

TQ elevates quality to the same status as production and cost considerations. In fact, quality must be regarded as "first among equals." In the triangle of quality-production-cost, quality is at the top.

Quality without adequate production to cover the cost structure is self-defeating. A business can't survive if it costs more to manufacture a product than the price it can obtain in the marketplace.

Purchasing and engineering personnel need to remember that quality has a price. They need to avoid over-specification and realize that value = quality/cost.

Quality doesn't relate only to premium items. A compact car and a luxury car can both be quality automobiles. Simply defined: "quality is conformance to requirement," nothing more and nothing less. This means meeting the customer's specification while exceeding the customer's expectation.

Quality is an attitude. It's the state of mind that dictates how well one must do a job. Involving both personal and corporate integrity, it's an attitude that says: "We do things right around here because that's our policy and because it's the right thing to do."

Talk to Yourself

There must be a strong commitment to TQ by top-level management. Management must be convinced that something of value is to be gained.

Get top-level management (including your quality manager) together to talk to each other. Have them air their reservations, while you expand on your concerns, fears and hopes. Develop a consensus!

When you get there, expand your group to include department managers, and talk and listen to each other. After reaching a point of agreement, again expand your group (or groups, if necessary) to include foreman-level managers. It may take time from your schedule to work with these groups, but that's a part of the commitment to quality.

Management must be perceived to "be reading from the same page" before you begin to talk with employees. If your people sense skepticism or a lack of resolve among managers, you'll never convince them. You can't be perceived as "lukewarm" or lacking conviction. You'll be swimming upstream most of the way, so be prepared.

Employees have been in these situations before. Foundry managers are notorious crusaders. Six months ago, it was safety; then it was housekeeping; this month it's quality.

Managers tend to "blitz" a problem. They focus on a problem, get everybody excited, hit it with their best shot, and then turn their attention to the next problem, thinking that "once it's fixed, it'll stay fixed." So there will be a tendency for many employees, if not all, to fold their arms and say "show me, don't tell me!"

Improvement is seldom, if ever, the real difficulty. Once individuals recognize the need for a change, it is never difficult to improve. The unfortunate part is that very few want to make that commitment. To ease that, managers must develop and promote a nondefensive attitude, an "openness" with a focus on finding solutions, not fault.

Corporate (and personal) self-examination is a difficult part of the process but an extremely important one.

Harry Forsha, in his book, The Pursuit of Quality Through Personal Change, wrote: "Changes result from actions. If you want to change something, then the action must come from you. To do otherwise is to remove yourself from the process. To remove yourself from the process might well eliminate any hope you have of influencing the results."

Making the Change

For at least some of us, change isn't easy to accomplish, but it's an important step in the quality education process. There's a natural resistance to change. People are notorious for saying, "we tried that before and it didn't work" or "we don't do it that way here."

People react this way because change usually involves reducing one's "personal comfort factor." It usually involves some personal risk-taking, and it probably means work. Management expert Peter Drucker summed it up by saying, "Everything degenerates into work!"

Philip Crosby, another management and quality expert, in his book, Quality is Free, wrote: "Once people reach the age of their own personal comfort with the world, they stop learning and their minds run on idle for the rest of their days... The bigoted, the narrow-minded, the stubborn and the perpetually optimistic have all stopped learning. You have to recognize that some people are just plain not interested in learning anything that will make them have to change."

Quality or the changes in our approach to our jobs to achieve quality will not be easy to accomplish. Don't be impatient, and don't expect too much too soon.

It is said that quality is a journey, not a destination. Total quality can't be achieved by simply pushing a button.

Bringing TQ into an organization is a long-term, complex process of cultural reform that requires dedication, patience and time--time measured in years, not weeks or months--to fully institute an effective program. The search for quality is never finished; it is a process of continuous improvement.

Keys to TQ Management

In Implementing Total Quality Management, author Joseph R. Jablonski stressed organizations must focus on several points to practice successful TQ management.

* Have Customer Focus--You need to be customer driven and work hard to fulfill all customer expectations. Give customers a stated policy that guides your foundry's actions, and make sure you deliver exactly what was promised. Doing so will enable you to establish communications with your customers so you can talk about sensitive issues such as price and cost. Customers don't want you to lose money.

* Prevention vs. inspection--It's impossible to "inspect" quality (or nonquality) in places such as high-speed automated mold and pour lines. There must be an increasing reliance on process controls.

* Focus on the process as well as results--Detection systems are important to allow any type of prevention.

* Mobilize work force expertise--Once management has gotten it's thought process together, every department in the foundry, as well as offices supporting these activities, needs to give input. These are your "resident experts," and their power and experience must be tapped to achieve this ongoing, continuous improvement. Work teams should be established to identify and solve problems that inhibit achievement of quality, cost and productivity goals. TQ success depends heavily on stimulating and motivating the work force.

Federal Express uses "empowerment" as a cornerstone of it's TQ effort. They say, "Employee satisfaction is a prerequisite to customer satisfaction."

* Base decisions on fact--Your work teams should receive training and guidance in data gathering and analysis so that process decisions are based on fact and not on impressions. They should evolve into a structured approach to problem solving with everyone lending a helping hand, and no one being blamed.

* Rely on feedback--Develop process control parameters based on fact, and trust the measurement data. Adjust the process to keep your measurement data within the control limits. React to your data. Don't wait for problems to appear in your product because by that point, it's too late.

Jablonski says, "TQ management is nothing more than a reemphasis of basic personnel management practices. At the foundation of all skills is the ability to lead, to get people to do what they ordinarily would not have done voluntarily on their own. But they do it because you lead them in a manner that inspires them to be creative and to take a chance."

Quality Through ISO 9000

Receiving ISO 9000 standard certification has been viewed by many not only as an affirmation of an effective management system, but also as a prerequisite to participation in our increasingly global markets.

The ISO 9000 series standards represent a responsible and practical way to run a company. ISO 9004, the guidance document, directs that: "The technical, administrative and human factors affecting the quality of products and services will be under control. All such control should be oriented toward the reduction, elimination and, most importantly, prevention of quality deficiencies."

The standard further points out that: "The quality management system be appropriate to the type of activity and to the product or service being offered."

Foundry managers need to gain control of the factors that influence quality and use that control to reduce, eliminate and prevent defects.

Here is a working guideline to ISO 9000:

* Say what you do. A written quality policy detailing all processes should be written in simple "how, why and why not" instructions. Parallel and complementary information systems should map out what to do and how to do it.

* Do what you say. Make sure that people read, understand and use this information. If they've been part of its development, it's much easier. Ensure they understand the foundry's quality policy and recognize that "performing like the requirement" is a condition of employment. Make it clear to your staff that the only procedures and work practices that are acceptable are those agreed upon and identified in the instructions.

* Write it down. Simply said, constantly review and document everything--activities, audits, action taken, results.

In itself, ISO 9000 can be a powerful improvement tool toward total quality. It describes a structured quality management system and an effective audit system.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Foundry Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Quality in the '90s; foundry quality management
Author:Smrstik, Al R.
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Sep 1, 1992
Previous Article:Mechanisms of porosity formation in aluminum.
Next Article:Don't trust logic in casting marketing.

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