Hank Kolb Case

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Hank Kolb, Director of Quality Assurance|
Case Study|
|
Presented by: Joanna Kristine |
Total Quality Management (TQM)|

Hank Kolb, Director of Quality Assurance
Case Study

I. Background of the Case

Hank Kolb was whistling as he walked toward his office, still feeling a bit like a stranger since he had been hired four weeks ago as director, quality assurance. All last week he had been away from the plant at an interesting seminar entitled “Quality in the 80s” given for quality managers of manufacturing plants by the corporate training department. He was not looking forward to really digging into the quality problems at these industrial products employing 1,200 people.

Hank poked his head into Mark Hamler’s office, his immediate subordinate, the quality control manager, and asked him how things had gone last week. Mark’s muted smile and an “Oh, fine” stopped Hank in his tracks. He didn’t know Mark very well and was unsure pursuing this reply any further. Hank was still uncertain of how to start building his relationship with him since Mark had been passed over for the promotion to Hank’s job—Mark’s evaluation form had stated “superb technical knowledge; managerial skills lacking.” Hank decided to inquire a little further and asked Mark what had happened. Mark replied:

Oh, just another typical quality snafu. We had a little problem on the Greasex line last week (a specialized degreasing solvent packed in a spray can for the high-technology sector). A little high pressure was found in some cans on the second shift, but a supervisor vented them so that we could ship them out. We met our delivery schedule!

Since hank was still relatively unfamiliar with the plant and the products he asked Mark to elaborate. Painfully, mark continued:

We’ve been having some trouble with the new filling equipment, and some of the cans were pressurized beyond our acceptable standard on a psi (pounds per square inch) rating scale. The production rate is still 50 percent of standard, about 14 cases per shift. Mac Evans (the inspector for that line) picked it up, tagged the cases “Hold” and went on about his duties. When he returned at the end the shift to write up the rejects, Wayne Simmons, first-line supervisor, was by a pallet of finished goods finishing sealing up a carton if the rejected Greasex: the reject “Hold” tags had been removed. He told Mac that he had heard about the high pressure from another inspector at coffee break, had come back, had taken off the tags, individually turned the cans upside down and vented every one of them in the rejected eight cartons. He told Mac that production planning was really pushing for the stuff, and they couldn’t delay by having it sent through the rework area. He told Mac that he would get on the operator to run the equipment right next time. Mac didn’t write it up but came in about three days ago to tell me about it. Oh, it happens every once in a while, and I told him to make sure the filling machine was adjusted; and I saw Wayne in the hall and told him that he ought to send the stuff through rework next time.

Hank was a bit dumbfounded at this and didn’t say much—he didn’t know if this was a “big deal” or not. When he got to his office he thought again what Mr. Morganthal, general manager, had said when he had hired Hank. He warned Hank about the “lack of quality attitude” in the plant and said that Hank “should try to do something about this.” He had further emphasized the quality problems in the plant. “We have to improve our quality, it’s costing us a lot of money, I’m sure of it, but I can’t prove it! Hank, you have my full support in this matter; you’re in charge of these quality problems. This downward quality-productivity-turnover spiral has to end!”

The incident had happened a week ago; the goods were probably out in the customer’s hands by now; everyone had forgotten about it (or wanted to!); and there seemed to be more pressing...
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