Quality Concerns Grow Along With Toyota’s Market Share

The Aug. 4 lead article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that as Toyota expands its share of the global automotive market, approaching that of General Motors Corp., its quality concerns are increasing.

“Torrid growth has spread thin the company’s famed Japanese quality gurus,” the article explained. “This means that, in places like Toyota’s Georgetown, KY, plant, the pressure is on to retrain American workers to take up more of the slack.”

WSJ said Toyota’s lead in quality and reliability surveys has narrowed and disappeared in certain key segments. This has resulted in the launching of special task forces in trouble spots in North America and China to overhaul shop floor management and in a program to train midlevel factory managers to more effectively run plants outside of Japan using lean techniques and kaizen, or continuous improvement.


The most recent quarter’s American Customer Satis-faction Index (ACSI), however, offers no solace to U.S. domestic automakers. Of the six organizations at or below the industry average for customer satisfaction, five are based in the United States.

But all is not bleak for the Big Three. Ford’s Lincoln and Mercury lines made the biggest satisfaction im-provement to 86, up 6%, and are now at the top of the industry, followed closely by Honda (85), BMW and Toyota (both at 84).

Other sectors measured in the most recent quarter were personal computers, appliances and e-business.

For personal computers, overall satisfaction improved to 74, a level not seen since 2000. Apple leads with 81, making a 5% improvement in each of the last two years. Hewlett-Packard went in the opposite direction, dropping below the industry average in each of the last two years.

The household appliance industry improved slightly to a score of 82 and remains one of the highest scoring industries in the ACSI. Kenmore topped the list at 85, but Maytag’s difficulties continue, its score falling from 87 in 2000 to 81 in 2004.

The upward trend of e-business portals, search engines, and news and information websites continued, with the sector gaining 1.5% to a score of 72.5.

The ACSI is a national economic indicator of customer evaluations of the quality of products and services available to household customers in the United States. It is produced by the University of Michigan Business School, in partnership with ASQ and CFI Group. Corporate sponsors are ForSee Results, for the e-commerce measurements, and Market Strategies Inc. For additional information, go to http://www.asq.org or http://www.theacsi.org.


Society To Assist Transportation Agency With Certifications

The Transportation Security Agency (TSA) recently asked ASQ to assist it in improving the current certification process for security screeners and in developing a certification process for other positions.

The decision was made in a meeting between ASQ and Rear Adm. David Stone, acting administrator of TSA. This meeting followed more than two years of discussions between the Society and the agency.

Support for ASQ involvement has been voiced by George Voinovich, chair of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce and the District of Columbia, and by Charles E. Schumer, senator from New York.

Schumer had been publicly critical of TSA training practices at LaGuardia Airport in New York, which came to light as a result of a TSA inspector general’s report.


Five Receive Innovations in Government Awards

Five local and federal government initiatives have received Innovations in American Government Awards from the Council for Excellence in Government and the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University. Each recipient will receive a $100,000 grant to support replication activities.

The five winning programs are:

  1. CitiStat of Baltimore City, MD, an effort of the mayor’s office and of agencies that respond to data collected from the city’s 311 professional call centers to make regular, timely and cost saving improvements to the city’s responsiveness and efficiency.
  2. ClinicalTrials.gov, administered by the National Institutes of Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an online healthcare resource about clinical trials for those facing life threatening illness.
  3. The Natural Drainage Systems Program, which was created by Seattle to purify and transport the city’s storm water runoff.
  4. Performance Standards for Juvenile Correction and Deten-tion Facilities, administered by the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Preven- tion to track information to make needed improvements to the program.
  5. The Resolve To Stop the Vio-lence Project in the city and county of San Francisco.

The awards have been presented for the last 17 years. This year’s five winners were selected from among 15 finalists and nearly 1,000 applicants. For additional information, go to http://www.excelgov.org.


Hospital Assn. Presents Four Quest for Quality Awards

The American Hospital Assn. (AHA) recently recognized four hospitals for leadership and innovation in patient care quality, safety and commitment through its Quest for Quality program, which is supported by grants from McKesson and the McKesson Foundation.

Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, VA, received the Quest for Quality Prize and $75,000. The two finalists, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, and Mary Lanning Memorial Hospital, Hastings, NE, were awarded $12,500 each. Advocate Health System in Oakbrook, IL, received a citation of merit.

The goals of the Quest for Quality Prize are to raise awareness of the need for an organizational commitment to highly reliable, exceptional quality, patient centered care; reward successful efforts to create and improve systems that support quality of care; inspire organizations to broaden their framework for quality improvement efforts through systematic integration and alignment throughout the organization; and communicate successful programs and strategies to the hospital field.

AHA says a common focus of the 2004 honorees was the creation of an institutionwide culture of safety.

Applications for the 2005 Quest for Quality Prize are due Oct. 15. Information and applications are available at http://www.aha.org/questforquality or by calling 312-422-2700.


China Proposes Revamp of Its Standards System

The Standardization Administration of China recently conducted a review of the Chinese standards system and recommended revamping the system to bring it into line with those of developed economies. Recom-mendations include the following:

  • Replacing the old system with one that is open, transparent and uses due process and consensus to develop standards.
  • Emphasizing the adoption of international standards when available.
  • Replacing the current practice under which the government mandates nearly all technical standards, instead making them voluntary and driven by market forces except in areas of health, safety and environmental protection.

Trade and standards dynamics will be explored at the American National Standards Institute’s annual conference in Washington on Oct. 13. For more information on the conference, go to http://www.ansi.org.

Short Runs

PRESENTERS ARE BEING SOUGHT for the 10th World Congress for Total Quality Management slated for Aug. 22-24, 2005, in Winni-peg, Manitoba, Canada. The conference is being presented by the Total Quality Research Foundation Canada. For information on keynote, paper or tutorial presentations, contact Madhav Sinha at madhavsinha2@ shaw.ca.

AS PART OF ITS ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION, Business-Week has been publishing a series of weekly profiles of those it calls “the greatest innovators of the past 75 years.” On Aug. 30, Joseph M. Juran and W. Edwards Deming were featured under the headline “The Kings of Quality.”

LOCKHEED MARTIN IS SLASHING travel costs by using Six Sigma principles. Employees now must list every anticipated possible meeting expense when requesting permission to travel. More details on this initiative appeared in one of the news items in Quality News Today, a newly developed ASQ member benefit offered on http://www.asq.org.

PHARMACIST-PATIENT INTERVIEWS can reduce hospital medication errors, according to a study reported in the Aug. 15 American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. Pharmacists and pharmacy students at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago interviewed 204 patients within 24-28 hours of admission to identify and resolve discrepancies between medical records, profiles and actual medication regimens. More than half had discrepancies, of which 22% could have resulted in patient harm during hospitalization and 59% in harm if the error continued after discharge.

THROUGH A SURVEY OF HOSPITAL CEOS funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Changes in Health Care Financing and Organization program, the Health Research & Educational Trust plans to assess the current capital financing environment, explore the magnitude of quality and safety infrastructural demands on capital, and identify hospital spending priorities and competing needs. Specifically, the survey will help examine the strategic processes used to make decisions related to hospital capital investment. For more information, go to http://www.hret.org/hret/programs/capfinance.html.

THE COMMERCE DEPARTMENT has announced an approach to changing the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), which is managed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. MEP is a nationwide network of resources helping small manufacturers become more competitive. The changes include a reapplication process as part of the current review process, a robust strategic planning process, closer coordination with other agencies, new technology services and an integrated knowledge management system. The complete text of the Commerce statement can be found at http://www.technology.gov/speeches/pjb_040809.htm.

THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRANSPORTATION SAFETY ADMINISTRATION gave safety professionals in the auto industry some of the credit when it announced the fatality rate on the nation’s highways in 2003 was the lowest since record keeping began 29 year ago. The number of crash related injuries also dropped to a historic low in 2003. For additional information, go to http://www.nhtsa.gov.


Engineering Academy Urges Risk Precursor Management

Organizations that run facilities ranging from hospitals to factories to power plants should step up their efforts to collect and use information on accident precursors, according to a new report from the National Academy of Engineering.

Among the report’s recommended actions are the following:

  • Nationwide, organizations in high hazard industries should establish programs to detect accident precursors, evaluate their causes and implement corrective actions.
  • Companies should work to overcome barriers that deter employees from reporting precursor events.
  • Organizations need to filter precursor information to identify events that expose unacceptably high risk, determine root causes and corrective actions, share information with appropriate stakeholders, and implement and monitor steps to reduce risk.
  • Government agencies should develop policies that encourage the use of precursor management approaches and recognize which existing approaches could be applied to various other institutions.
  • Government agencies that regulate high hazard industries or support fundamental research should increase their support of research into methods for effectively analyzing and managing precursors.

Copies of the report are available at http://www.nae.edu. For additional information, go to http://www4.nationalacademies.org/news.nsf/isbn/0309092167?opendocument.

The FACE of Quality

Name: Charles Erickson.

Residence: Waconia, MN.

Education: MBA in finance and strategic management, University of Minnesota.

First job related to quality: Supervisor of quality assurance, Minnesota Educational Computing Corp., Minneapolis.

Current job: Financial analyst, Hutchinson Technology, Hutch- inson, MN.

Recent achievement: Returned from a 10-month deployment to Afghanistan as a captain in the Army Reserve; awarded the Bronze Star for actions as a civil affairs team leader. Some activity was distinctly military, such as combat operations and leading the team on long-range missions to terrorist occupied areas; other activities drew on civilian experience—for example, managing U.S. funded reconstruction projects, including awarding competitive bids to local contractors. Devised a spreadsheet that weighed each criterion according to its relative performance for bid analysis; contracting officers adopted this spreadsheet to replace a 30-page form previously used and later made it the standard.

Personal: Married to Naomi.

Favorite ways to relax: Running and other exercise; reading, especially history and politics; language study.

Quality quote: A focus on quality is important in all aspects of life. It is critical in business but can also be key in personal and other activities. During my tour in Afghanistan, we used civilian business skills to improve the quality of processes for rebuilding that country and winning the war on terror.


NQI Gold Trophies Go to Three Canadian Companies

The National Quality Institute (NQI) will honor this year’s three recipients of its 2004 Gold Trophy in the Oct. 19 Canada Awards for Excellence (CAE) ceremonies. The winners are:

  • DaimlerChrysler Canada and the Canadian Auto Workers, which received a CAE Healthy Workplace Gold Trophy.
  • Delta Hotels, which received a CAE Healthy Work-place Gold Trophy.
  • Polywheels Manufacturing Ltd., which won the CAE Quality Gold Trophy.

The CAE Awards have been presented since 1984. For additional information, go to http://www.nqi.ca.

ASQ News

NORTH EAST QUALITY CONFERENCE OCT. 19-20 A group of 20 ASQ sections known as the North East Quality Council will hold their 55th conference Oct. 19-20 in Marlborough, MA. There will be 30 sessions plus pre- and postconference sessions. Keynote speakers will be A.V. Feigenbaum, president and CEO of General Systems Inc., on Oct. 19 and Gerry Zimmerman, vice president of quality at Raytheon, on Oct. 20. For information and registration, go to http://www.neqc.org/conference/55/index.asp.

SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE OCT. 18 AND 19 The Southeastern Quality Conference is slated for Oct. 18 and 19 in Atlanta. Sponsored by ASQ, the Institute of Industrial Engineers and the Georgia Tech Economic Development Institute, the conference will feature 30 speakers in multiple tracks. For information or to register, go to http://www.asqatlanta.org or contact Larry Aft at
404-7861541 or laft@bellsouth.net.

SERVICE QUALITY EXPERTS SOUGHT ASQ is seeking service quality subject matter experts with experience in financial, retail, construction, wholesale or utilities to teach courses. Proposed classes include Quality Concepts for Service Professionals, Local Government Quality Audit Program, Sarbanes-Oxley Symposium and Customer Service for the Front Lines. Qualified individuals should contact Susan Woodrow at swoodrow@asq.org, 800-248-1946 or 414-272-8575 x7518 for additional information.

WILLIAM WINCHELL DIES AT 70 ASQ was recently notified that past board member William Winchell of Royal Oak, MI, died June 2 at the age of 70. An ASQ Fellow, he served the Greater Detroit section for more than 20 years and was ASQ board vice president from 1985 to 1989 and a director at large from 1989 to 1991. Winchell was also involved with ASQ publications as chair of Quality Engineering magazine in 1985-86, standing review board chair in 1988-89 and a member of the technical media committee in 1986-87.

ISO 19111 SUPPLEMENTAL GUIDELINES OFFERED ANSI/ASQ QE 19011S-2004, Guidelines for Quality and/or Environmental Management Systems Auditing—U.S. Version With Supplemental Guidance Added, has been approved by the American National Standards Institute and is now available from Quality Press. It contains the full text of ISO 19011:2002, which primarily addresses external audits and provides additional guidance for both internal and supplier audits. It can be purchased at 800-248-1946, 414-272-8575 or http://qualitypress.asq.org or as an e-standard at http://e-standards.asq.org.

CONTRACT SIGNED WITH MEXICAN CONSORTIUM ASQ recently signed a contract with Tecnoeje, a consortium of 28 universities in Mexico City, to deliver Six Sigma Black Belt certification exams beginning in early 2005. Tecnoeje plans to send more than 540 applicants through the certification process in the first year of the contract.

EACH ONE REACH ONE WINNERS NAMED ASQ’s Each One Reach One member-get-a-member program had four winners in June and July. Paul S. Peterson from Heath, OH, recruited 10 members in June, while the winner in the random drawing was Tanya J. Hiday of Columbus, OH, who sponsored one new member. In July, Patrick Zaczyk of Stuttgart, AR, recruited 10 new members, while the random drawing winner was Deborah Schmitt from Spencer, IN, who sponsored two. All received Quality Press gift certificates. For information on the program, go to http://www.asq.org and click on Membership or e-mail help@asq.org and ask for item B0132, being sure to include your name and address.

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