Survey Shows Costs of Stopped Auto Production

A survey of 101 automotive industry executives showed the cost of stopped production, or downtime, to average $22,000 per minute. Some survey respondents cited a figure as high as $50,000.

The survey, which Nielsen Research conducted for Advanced Technology Services (ATS), asked how manufacturers could achieve better productivity and profitability. ATS supplies manufacturers with factory maintenance and IT labor.

With such high costs at stake, keeping production machinery operating smoothly is critical to a factory’s bottom line, respondents said. A majority said they would outsource production machine maintenance as a way to make their factories run better.

When asked which factory service would provide the most productivity gains if outsourced, 53% answered production machine maintenance. Other services they would outsource are tool room and spare parts storeroom management. Seventy percent of respondents said they would outsource a certain department or job function if it meant they no longer had the responsibility of searching for and recruiting skilled workers.

According to ATS, the CEOs, CIOs and vice presidents surveyed represented automotive manufacturers with revenue from $10 million to more than $5 billion. The respondents’ companies included manufacturers of automobiles, auto parts, engines, bodies and trailers, and electrical equipment for motor vehicles.


Institute of Medicine Calls for Reform Of Quality Improvement Organizations

Quality improvement organizations (QIOs)—the private groups that contract with Medicare to help healthcare organizations and practitioners improve the quality of their services—would be more effective if they focused solely on providing technical assistance on quality improvement. That’s what the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies says in a new report.

According to IOM, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which manages the QIO program, should transfer other activities, such as case reviews, to other organizations. The report comes from a yearlong review of QIOs’ structures, responsibilities and role in improving healthcare quality.

Currently, Medicare contracts with 41 organizations to promote better care for beneficiaries in each state. QIOs are also required to examine patient complaints and requests for coverage and review claims to ensure care meets national quality standards and Medicare is billed appropriately.

The committee that wrote the report pointed to the expansion of public reporting on healthcare organizations’ performance and the growth of in-centive programs to boost quality levels, saying demand of QIOs’ assistance will rise. To meet this anticipated surge, QIOs should concentrate on helping providers improve their delivery of care and organizational cultures and information systems, instead of handling beneficiary complaints and other case reviews, the report says.

“We believe the care provided to Medicare beneficiaries has improved too slowly and QIOs should concentrate on accelerating these improvements,” says committee chair Steven Schroeder, professor of health and healthcare, University of California, San Francisco.

“While we recognize the importance of the proper handling of beneficiary complaints and case reviews, these organizations have not yet realized their full potential to help healthcare providers meet the highest quality standards,” Schroeder says. “The role of QIOs should be to improve healthcare practice rather than to supervise or regulate it.”

Requested by Congress and sponsored by the CMS, the report is the second in a series that focuses on the redesign of health insurance to accelerate the pace of quality improvement efforts in the United States. A previous report discussed ways to measure and report on healthcare providers’ performance, and a third report will examine payment incentives to improve the quality of health services.

For more information, go to www4.nationalacademies.org/news.nsf/isbn/0309101085?opendocument.


New Judges Appointed to Baldrige Award Panel

Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez has appointed three people from different sectors to serve on the 10-member panel of judges for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. They replace retiring panel members.

The new members are:

  • Paul Friedman, corporate vice president, strategy and systems improvement, SSM Health Care, St. Louis.
  • William McBee, vice president, total customer experience and quality, Hewlett-Packard, Houston.
  • Diane Kramer Siri, superintendent of schools, Santa Cruz County, Capitola, CA.

David C. Branch, chairman and CEO, Branch-Smith Resources, Fort Worth, TX, was appointed the new chair of the panel. The panel of judges is part of the award’s mostly private sector board of about 500 examiners who review applications for the Baldrige award.

For more information, go to www.quality.nist.gov/Charter-Judges.htm (case sensitive).


AHRQ Launches Tool For States to Measure Healthcare Quality

 The U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has developed a Web based tool to help states measure healthcare quality.

The tool, called State Snapshot, is based on the 2005 National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR), released earlier this year. It provides access to the NHQR’s measures and tables, including:

  • State rankings based on 15 measures of healthcare quality.
  • Summary measures of the quality of types of care (prevention, acute, chronic) and settings of care (hospital, ambulatory, nursing home, home health) for each state.
  • Comparisons of each state’s summary measures to regional and national performance.

To use State Snapshot, go to www.qualitytools.ahrq.gov/qualityreport/2005/state. For more information on the 2005 NHQR, go to www.qualitytools.ahrq.gov.


Satisfaction With Utilities Up Thanks To Better Communication

Satisfaction of business customers with their electric utility providers has improved for a second consecutive year, according to a J.D. Power study. The study’s nationwide customer satisfaction index increased from 660 points on a 1,000-point scale in 2005 to 667 in 2006.

J.D. Power attributes the boost to utilities’ doing a better job communicating with their customers, an especially important element of customer service during times of rising energy prices and major storms.

The study is based on interviews with representatives of more than 12,000 U.S. businesses that spend between $500 and $50,000 monthly on electricity. Overall customer satisfaction is based on six factors: power quality and reliability, customer ser


ISO Adds Web Assistance For Small Businesses

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has added a section for small and mid-sized businesses to its ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 website.

The site features articles aimed at making it easier for smaller businesses to implement the two standards. Topics covered include:

  • Taking the first steps toward a quality management system (QMS).
  • Taking the first steps in environmental management.
  • Turning to an external consultant for help in implementing a QMS.
  • Hiring a consultant vs. doing it yourself when implementing ISO 14001.

The new website is at www.iso.ch/iso/en/iso9000-14000/explore/smsenterprises.html.

The FACE of Quality

Name: Bruce Beyer.

Residence: Irving, TX.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Current job: Lead inspector at B. Braun Medical Inc. in Carrollton, TX.

First job in quality: Machined parts inspector at Recognition Equipment in Irving.

ASQ activities: Member since 1985, certified mechanical inspector and quality technician.

Other activities: Has been a member of Mensa since 1987. Mensa members have IQs in the top 2% of the general population.

Recent honor: 2005 International Inspector of the Year Award from ASQ’s Inspection Division.

Personal: Married; two grown sons.

Favorite ways to relax: Exploring military history and cooking, which he admits is an odd combination.

Quality quote: No matter what else we do and no matter how many quality systems arise and are used and altered to fit new circumstances, the most important thing we can do as quality professionals and practitioners is to mentor the next generation any way we can so they can build on what we’ve done.

Short Runs

A GROWING NUMBER OF SCHOOL SYSTEMS are financially rewarding teachers based on their students’ test scores, according to Gannett News Service. In the past year, school systems in Minnesota, Florida, Texas and Colorado have established merit pay programs that tie bonuses to student achievement. Several other school systems are considering similar programs. Researchers attribute the wider interest to increased testing requirements under the No Child Left Behind Act and improved technology to track student achievement. Teachers unions have been critical of most merit pay incentives, arguing the money would be better—and more fairly—used to raise basic pay

THE FIFTH QUALITY COLLOQUIUM ON HEALTHCARE will be Aug. 20-23 at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. The event is sponsored by organizations such as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organiza-tions and the Patient Safety Institute. For more information, go to www.qualitycolloquium.com.

THE 2006 LEAPFROG HOSPITAL SAFETY AND QUALITY SURVEY is now available online. The Leapfrog Group, an association of organizations that purchase healthcare, posted the survey for hospitals to fill out. The survey focuses on hospitals’ use of Leapfrog’s suggested processes and quality measures. The deadline to be included in the first public report of the new data is June 30. To complete the survey, go to www.leapfroggroup.org/for_hospitals.

THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR STANDARDIZATION (ISO) has developed a standard for good manufacturing practices and quality management in the pharmaceutical sector. ISO 15378:2006, developed by ISO technical committee 76, applies to the design, manufacturing and supply of primary packaging materials for medicinal products and gives guidance on risk management and validation. It applies to all primary packaging materials, including glass, rubber, plastic and aluminum. It is the first such international standard. For more information, go to www.iso.org.

YESTECH HAS WON the service excellence award for 2006 from Circuits Assembly Magazine. Yestech is a San Clemente, CA, supplier of automated inspection and yield enhancement systems for the electronics industry.

ESS, A PROVIDER of operational risk management software and services for environmental, health and safety, and crisis management, is seeking speakers for its business conference and workshop scheduled for Oct. 8-12 in Phoenix. For more information on submitting proposals, go to www.essexpo.com/speakers.

IHS INC. HAS RELEASED a fastener e-catalog for design engineers, standards managers, and procurement, manufacturing and quality professionals in the aerospace, defense and automotive industries. The Aerospace Industries Assn. participated in a beta users forum to guide the catalog’s content. IHS says the catalog enables part number searching, has a common search interface and reduces part proliferation and unnecessary inventory overstocks. For information, go to www.ihs.com.

ASQ News

FOUNDING MEMBER RALPH E. WAREHAM, 1914-2006 Ralph E. Wareham, one of ASQ’s founding members, died Feb. 27, less than a month from his 92nd birthday. Wareham served as ASQ’s first executive secretary (1946-1947) and second president (1948-1950) and had been ASQ’s historian since 1987. In 1999, Wareham became the only person to receive a lifetime achievement award from ASQ. In 2001, Wareham was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal.

DALLAS SECTION EVENT ATTRACTS COMMUNITY LEADERS ASQ’s Dallas section celebrated the Society’s 60th anniversary with a dinner on March 23. Of the 441 attendees, about 300 were not ASQ members, says section chair Michael English, who planned the event as an opportunity to raise awareness and recruit new members. Among the nonmembers were mayors and other officials from several nearby cities. The event also honored Park Place Lexus of Plano, TX, and Richland College of Dallas, which received 2005 Baldrige awards. English says the idea for the dinner came out of ASQ’s member value summit last October.

ASQ STAFFER EARNS CMQ/OE STATUS Peter LaBonte has become the first ASQ employee to pass the certified manager of quality/organization excellence (formerly certified quality manager) exam. LaBonte, ASQ’s Baldrige contract administrator, says he took the exam because much of what he does at ASQ involves quality management. He spent about 40 hours on nights and weekends preparing, using ASQ’s self-directed study program. LaBonte says it is important ASQ members know the employees “use and believe in the efficacy of quality practices.” As of December 2005, 44 current ASQ staff members were certified quality improvement associates.

CALL FOR PAPERS ISSUED The Quality Management Division’s 19th conference will be March 1-2, 2007, in Dallas, with pre- and postconference courses. The conference offers opportunities for academicians, practitioners, consultants and other researchers to present forums, sessions, panels, courses and workshops that support the “essentials for excellence” theme. For more information, go to www.asq.org/qm/conferences.

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