Interpretation of FMEA Figure Is Inaccurate

Regarding the article "Exploiting the World's Most Recognized Standard," by Paul Palady in the February issue of Quality Progress. Figure 1 on p. 55 indicates high risk priority numbers are associated with low risk and low risk priority numbers are associated with high risk. In classical failure mode effects analysis (FMEA) the opposite is true. I'm sure Palady recognized this after publication of the article.

Jacksonville, FL

Author's Response: Readers are correct in their interpretations of risks using the traditional approach, the risk priority number (RPN) prescribed for FMEA. However, the first figure in the article is an interpretation of risk using a new approach introduced in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) technical paper #940884, the area chart.

FMEA was introduced around 1962, and although it remains the best tool for risk analysis and risk management, it reflects the way we attempted to achieve quality at that time. The predominant strategy was inspection. This is reflected in the RPN due to the detection scale.

The area chart allows for a completely proactive interpretation of risk by considering only two of the three rating scales: 1) the severity scale and 2) the occurrence scale. The detection scale serves as a reference when designing strategies for the recommendation column of FMEA, not for interpreting risks. The ratings from the severity and occurrence scales provide the coordinates required to plot the corresponding failure mode onto the area chart. This chart separates all the risks into three groups or zones: 1) high risks--red zone, 2) medium risks--yellow zone and 3) low risks--green zone. Figure 1 illustrates the conflict between the RPNs and the area chart.

It is suggested the RPN assessment of risks is a misapplication of the Pareto chart.


Successful Consultants Should Have Sales Skills

In regard to the "Career Corner" column by Joe Conklin in the May 2001 issue, "So You Want To Go Solo" (p. 116), I believe it would be helpful for your readers to know that without sales or marketing skills, succeeding as a consultant is a long shot.

Almost 12 years ago I began a business, sitting at the end of a bed--no desk, no computer. I began dialing owners and presidents of firms in my target market. In addition to earning a handsome living, we have developed a portion of our business (about 30%) working with starving consultants. We have developed a process that can turn experts into consultive salespersons.

If you ignore the need to sell and market effectively, a lot of wheel spinning takes place. Few people are going to have their phones ringing off the hook. They must learn to prospect, network, participate in associations, ask effective questions, make outstanding presentations and then earn the right to obtain an assignment.

Selling is a process. If you cheat the process, you will lose. If you don't know what to say after you say hello, you become a professional visitor, but not a professional businessperson.

Because of the work we do with consultants, we find about 10% can enjoy a six figure income. The balance of the individuals we have met struggle or soon give up. They lack the necessary empathy, ego strength and ego drive to succeed.

I believe consulting is the toughest but most rewarding work that can be done.

Paradigm Associates
Jamesburg, NJ

The Same Thing They Have Always Done

I enjoyed reading Brent D. Ruben's letter in the April issue of Quality Progress about what's happening to quality's reality.

I have often wondered myself about "quality's reality," and why after 20-plus years it seems nothing has really changed (except the rhetoric). It seems corporate America wants to have it both ways: It wants a quality revolution, but it wants one that respects the status quo. Unfortunately, life isn't that easy.

I once asked a college professor, "Why is it that with all of the advancements in modern management theory, corporate management still (consistently) fails at the bottom line?" He responded by asking me, "How many CEOs can you name off the top of your head?" I said, "Lee Iacocca, Jack Welch and Herb Kelleher." He said, "That's why. Lee Iacoccas (and the like) are rare in business, and unfortunately those are the people it takes to walk the walk."

W. Edwards Deming had a great saying I think sums up the reason behind this post-quality revolution failure of modern management: "Management will usually attend the classes, nod their heads yes in agreement, then go right back to doing the same thing they have always done --nothing."

I wonder how many companies would be willing to post their performance indices of cost, quality and schedules in the company lobby right alongside their bronze vision and mission statement plaques. Maybe only then would management be willing to walk the walk.

Elk Grove, CA 

Authors Miss Target On Customer Satisfaction

While the articles on "Quality and the Bottom Line" in the May 2001 issue are interesting, they miss the target in several areas. First of all, they all are talking about quality being something less than total customer satisfaction. At least in A.V. Feigenbaum's article, "How To Manage for Quality in Today's Economy" (p. 26), he discusses complete customer satisfaction and the cost of quality contained in the organization's value chain prior to delivering the product or service. Joseph A. DeFeo doesn't emphasize those points in his article, "The Tip of the Iceberg" (p. 29), and Debbie Neuscheler-Fritsch and Robert Norris miss those points completely in "Capturing Financial Benefits from Six Sigma" (p. 39).

What seems to be missing from all the papers is a discussion regarding the voice of the customer and the voice of the process (which establishes the customer usage and stresses product strength relationship.) Without this critical analysis, you are going to have conflict when trying to engineer something to last a lifetime of customer usage.

In that regard, one of those critical value chain costs is the monster called engineering change. We have known for years the detrimental effects of engineering changes, but we have also studied the cost impact, and it is enormous. Furthermore, if a change needs to be made after product launch, the cost is 50 to 100 times greater than it would have been if the product had been engineered correctly in the first place. Suppliers used to get wealthy off those engineering changes. The moral is, slow down and do the design right the first time. Management that forces engineering before it is ready is primarily responsible for these excessive costs.

As an added comment, I believe Six Sigma initiatives are about dead. Six Sigma is yesterday's method and not aggressive enough. We are currently showing clients how to achieve 10.0 Cpk and saving them huge sums of money in the process. Let's pursue perfection in everything we do. We must not be satisfied until we have 100% customer satisfaction, no warranty or recall expense, no internal scrap, no litigation expense, no engineering change expense and 100% happy and satisfied employees.

International Institute for Strategic Studies 

Black Belt Boogie

We just completed week four of ASQ's Six Sigma Black Belt training in Dallas. It happened that the session corresponded with a rap artists' convention in the same hotel. Inspired one sleepless night, I wrote the following tribute to the course. I call it the "Black Belt Boogie."

Six Sigma, Six Sigma
Now, it ain't no enigma.
You need a Black Belt detective
To eliminate defectives.
It's how a sucka's got to be
To achieve his DOE.

Stat>Basic Stat>Normality Test,
It's before all the rest,
If not, it's just a guess.
It's all part of the quest
To hypothesis test,
And achieve your DOE.
It's how a sucka's got to be.

Special cause, common cause,
Any cause will do,
I'm instructing all my crew
To find that upper limit
It should only take a minute
If my data are within it,
If not, I'll GLM it.
It's how a sucka's got to be,
To achieve his DOE.

Is it alpha, is it beta?
My RSM looks like a crater,
I will see you suckas later,
All I'm after are my data.
Now I think I'm getting wiser,
With my response optimizer.
It's like turning on Niagara,
It's Box-Behnken on Viagra.
It's how a sucka's got to be,
To achieve his DOE.

Now all across the nation
They're doing correlation,
Disregarding fluctuation,
To get certification
As the Black Belt salvation
To their fellow employees.
Could that bonus be for me?
It's how a sucka's got to be,
To achieve his DOE.
And then you go to SPC.

Mental Health Network
Austin, TX 

Media Management Needs To Use Quality Tools

The April edition of QP includes an article "Can Quality Concepts and tools Fix the U.S. Elcetion Process?" (p. 46), which decries the lack of application of statistics during the recent November unpleasantness.

Quality principles went begging because media management chose not to introduce the subject. After all, analysis, properly performed, leads to facts and truth. (Grade school level knowledge of geography and time zone borders would have helped, too.)

In my 50-plus years in quality management I have observed a nearly universal truth: An organization will generally fulfill the de facto expectations of its top management.

There may be a high sounding policy statement with lofty goals, but what does top management demonstrate it will accept and reward? That is what the organization will produce. The organizations that make up our national news media are no different.

Our national news media have an unbelievably deep, de facto liberal bias. Their policy statements read to the contrary, of course, espousing unbiased, objective reporting. But reporting is invariably biased toward the agenda and outcome the reporters, editors and managers choose to support.

Facts from a competent statistical analysis and other quality tools in many cases run counter to the agenda. When this happens, it is most effective to distract and confuse by participating in mind games. We saw some outstanding examples of those maneuvers in November and December.

Quincy, IL 


In the March column "One Good Idea: The Scripted Flowchart Process," the name of the author's business was incorrect. The correct name of Douglas E. Anton's business is AEM Consulting Group. For more information, go to www.aemconsulting.com

Contact 'QP'

We welcome your letters. Send them to EDITOR, ASQ/QUALITY PROGRESS, 600 N. PLANKINTON AVE., MILWAUKEE, WI 53203-3005; or e-mail them to editor@asq.org. Please include address, daytime phone number and e-mail address. Whenever possible, the e-mail addresses will be included with published letters.

Due to space restrictions, Quality Progress will publish a selection of letters in the magazine. All letters will be published on QP Forum, or you can post your comment on QP Forum directly at www.asqnet.org. We reserve the right to edit letters for space and clarity.

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