The Quality Walk
Beth Stuart went on a tour to evaluate a potential supplier’s facility before her company, Epic Communications, entered into a long term contract for 1.2 million high speed communications circuit boards. Her tour guide was Michael Spade, VP of manufacturing for PushTel. If the relationship proved beneficial to both parties, follow-up contracts would be negotiated each year thereafter. Beth noticed during her walk that employees were disappearing into their offices and down connecting aisles as she walked through the facility. Beth reflected how on another visit to a different company, the quality manager greeted each employee by name and the workers went out of their way to say hello. Moving from the office area into the production area, a loud spraying noise could be heard 20 feet away. A high pressure hose had come off a machine and fluid was pouring out onto the factory. Beth watched in amazement as the operator of the machine quickly reattached the hose and cleaned up the floor. Michael went right over and criticized the employee. Upon Michael’s return, Beth asked to see the maintenance documentation of the production line. Beth noticed that the preventative maintenance records were mixed with the records for repairs with no way to distinguish between the two. Beth also noticed that about 6 weeks of data were missing from the file. Further on the tour, Beth noticed that as many employees conducting what appeared to be testing and inspection as were actually producing the products. In addition, she noticed parts had been pulled from the line to be reworked or scraped sitting to the sides of the production lines. She realized that all of the scrap and rework were indications of processes that are either incapable or out of control. Pointing to the scraps, Beth asked to see the scrap records. Upon walking into the Quality Control (QC) department, Beth noticed that tagged items were strewn about the room. Martha, QC employee, gave Beth a...
References: Burt, D. N., Petcavage, S. D., & Pinkerton, R. L. (2010). Supply management (8th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
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