RFID May Help Track First Responders

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are studying whether radio frequency identification (RFID) technology can be used to track firefighters and other first responders inside buildings and help them navigate under hazardous conditions.

RFID technology already is used to identify, track and communicate information about manufactured and agricultural products. Typical RFID systems consist of tags, tag readers and application software. As the tagged products pass a fixed reader, the tags transmit data about the products and their locations.

NIST researchers want to know whether inexpensive RFID tags placed inside buildings can help pinpoint the location of a first responder and provide local information to a handheld device that includes an RFID reader and a navigation unit. When a first responder carrying the handheld device encounters a tag, the system will correlate the tag with the device’s location. The reader’s interaction with a tag would be similar to using a “you are here” map in a shopping mall.

The research team’s plans for the next several years include:

  • Determining how many tags are needed and where they should be placed.
  • Developing a prototype RFID reader.
  • Integrating the reader and navigation hardware and software into a wireless network.
  • Testing a prototype system in a smoke filled environment.

For more information, go to www.antd.nist.gov/wctg/RFID/RFIDassist.htm (case sensitive).


QIOs Advance Health Information Exchange Initiatives

Health information exchange (HIE) initiatives are rapidly increasing nationwide, and quality improvement organizations (QIO) are a big reason. That’s the key finding of a report from the American Health Quality Foundation, the educational arm of the American Health Quality Assn., which represents the nation’s network of QIOs.

The report, Quality Improvement Organizations and Health Information Exchange, concludes that as communities prepare to launch HIE networks, they benefit from the participation of their local QIO early in the developmental process.

QIOs are private organizations that work under contract to Medi-care to encourage the adoption of best practices that increase the safety and effectiveness of healthcare. In the current Medicare contract cycle (2005-2008), QIOs are funded to help 5% of the nation’s adult primary care practices adopt and use health IT to deliver better care.

The report defines HIE as the ability to electronically move clinical information between points of care in a community or a region. As more doctors and hospitals use electronic medical records and other forms of health IT, the potential benefits of implementing HIE will grow quickly, the report says.

The report finds that, in addition to working with individual office practices, QIOs in 41 states and the Virgin Islands are supporting local, regional and state-wide initiatives to develop HIE networks. Twenty-five communities report having fully operational HIE systems, another 40 are in the implementation phase, and dozens more are exploring how to get started.

To view the full report, go to www.ahqa.org/pub/media/159_989_5186.cfm.


Council Announces Supply Chain Awards

The Supply-Chain Council has announced its annual awards for excellence in supply chain operations. The recipients are:

  • Access Business Group for operations excellence.
  • Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. for technology excellence.
  • The University of Bergamo (Italy) Department of Industrial Engineering for academic excellence.
  • The Defense Logistics Agency for U.S. Department of Defense operations excellence.
  • Access Business Group for global supply chain excellence.

For more information, go to www.supply-chain.org.


PwC Says Six Trends Will Drive Sustainable Development

Sustainable development will advance steadily during the next 10 years, with six major trends influencing industry worldwide, according to a new PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) report.

“Sustainable businesses balance their economic interests with the need to be socially and environmentally responsible. The companies that succeed over the long term are those that integrate ethical considerations into company decision making and manage on the basis of personal integrity and widely held organizational values,” says Sunny Misser, PwC’s global leader of sustainable business solutions.

“Corporate Responsibility: Strategy, Management and Value” identifies the following major trends:

  • Growing influence of global market forces, rather than government policy. The influence of the markets in decision making will grow as they reflect rising demand, shrinking supply and changing patterns of demand for natural resources.
  • Revisions in the financial model used to set corporate and government strategy. The new model will include new scenarios, new risk factors and a growing number of intangible and nonfinancial factors.
  • Innovation, particularly in core industries. Changing economic conditions will expand the rate of innovation exponentially to include changes in behavior, product design, supply chains and geopolitical structure, in addition to technology.
  • Globalization. International institutions will be responsible for formulating global policies. The role of national or local institutions will be limited to implementation.
  • Evolution, not revolution. Progress toward sustainable development will be largely incremental. Barriers to rapid change will die hard, but specific catalysts may cause spurts of great change.
  • Communication. The global media may influence which issues governments and industries focus on and accelerate the speed of changes in policy and behavior.

The report also includes reviews of regional issues. For more information, go to www.pwc.com/extweb/aboutus.nsf/docid/ f818240917f5ad7785256ea90054d768.

The FACE of Quality

Name: Donald Berwick.

Residence: Newton, MA.

Education: Doctorate in medicine from Harvard Medical School.

Current jobs: President and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a not-for-profit organization in Cambridge, MA; clinical professor of pediatrics and healthcare policy at Harvard Medical School; professor of health policy and management at Harvard School of Public Health; pediatrician at Boston’s Children’s Hospital.

Recent honor: In 2005, in recognition of his work for the U.K. National Health Service, he was appointed honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Honorary knighthood is the highest U.K. award given to noncitizens.

Other activities and achievements: Recipient of the 2002 American Hospital Assn.’s Award of Honor; currently a member of the Insti-tute of Medicine’s governing council and serves on several editorial boards; past judge for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award; has held positions with the Na-tional Advisory Council of the Agency for Health-care Research and Quality, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the International Society for Medical Decision-Making and the U.S. government’s Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Healthcare Industry.

Published works: Escape Fire: Designs for the Future of Health Care (Jossey-Bass, 2003); co-authored Curing Health Care: New Strategies for Quality Improvement (Jossey-Bass, 2002); has written more than 110 articles for medical journals.

Personal: Married; four children.

Favorite way to relax: Hiking.

Quality quote: Every system is perfectly designed to achieve the results that it gets.


SURVEY SAYS Sarbanes-Oxley Costs Decline

The costs of complying with the financial auditing requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) fell sharply for corporations in the second year the law was in force, according to a recent study by four major accounting firms.

The study finds the average large company—defined as those with annual revenue of more than $700 million—paid $4.77 million in 2005 to comply with Section 404 of SOX, which requires companies to certify the quality of their internal financial controls and requires auditors to report on the controls.

That price tag was down 44% from first-year costs of $8.51 million, said CRA International, which conducted the survey for the accounting firms. For smaller companies—those with revenue of $75 million to $700 million—the average cost was down 31%, from $1.24 million to $860,000.

As a percentage of revenue, the total cost fell from 0.38% to 0.24% for smaller companies and from 0.11% to 0.05% for larger ones.

CRA International attributes the decline to companies’ and auditors’ becoming more accustomed to the new rules and thus having to test fewer controls.


AIAG Offers Supply Chain Problem Solving Guide

The Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) has created a guide to help the automotive supply chain gain the most value from problem solving processes and evaluate opportunities for improvement.

The guide is a consensus of methods and concepts used by original equipment manufacturers and the supply chain and covers topics such as culture change, a collaborative and effective process, suggested reporting formats, problem solving process steps and recommended skills and tools.

Effective Problem Solving has been endorsed by DaimlerChrysler AG, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., as well as Arvin Meritor Inc., Delphi Corp., Freudenberg-NOK and TRW Automotive.

The guide is available at www.aiag.org or by calling 248-358-3003.


Spanning Quality: A Bridge to ISO 14000

The Massachusetts Port Authority’s (Massport’s) Tobin Memorial Bridge was recently certified to ISO 14000 by TÜV America Inc.’s management service division.

TÜV says the designation continues a string of environmental firsts for Massport: The bridge joins LG. Hanscom Field and the Conley Container Terminal as the first transportation facilities of their kind in the United States to be ISO 14000 certified.

The 2.25-mile long bridge opened to traffic in 1950 and is the largest in New England. About 75,000 vehicles cross it daily.

Massport is an independent public authority that manages the state’s airports, seaport and transportation infrastructure.

Jenna Newcombe, environmental project manager for Massport, says the agency’s ultimate goal is to have all facilities, including Boston’s Logan Airport, certified to ISO 14000, the International Organization for Standardization’s environmental management system.


Shingo Prizes Presented to Lean Manufacturers

The Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing was presented to 10 companies during the annual Shingo Prize conference and awards ceremony in April in Covington, KY.

Those honored were:

  • Aspect Medical Systems, Newton, MA.
  • Autoliv facility in Promontory, UT.
  • Delphi Electronics & Safety, Milwaukee.
  • Delphi Productos Delco de Chihuahua (Plant 58), Mexico.
  • Delphi Steering Systems (Plants 65 and 66), Queretaro, Mexico.
  • dj Orthopedics Inc., Vista, CA.
  • Methode Mexico, Apodaca, Mexico.
  • Steelcase Inc., City of Industry, CA.
  • TI Automotive, Mexico City.

Other manufacturing finalists were Freudenberg-NOK, components plant, Bristol, NH; John Deere, power products, Greenville, TN; Rockwell Collins, operations, Coralville, IA; and Scotsman Ice Systems, operations, Fairfax, SC.

Shingo Prizes for research excellence in world-class manufacturing were also presented.

In the books category, recipients were:

  • Andy & Me: Crisis and Transformation on the Lean Journey by Pascal Dennis.
  • Creating a Lean Culture: Tools To Sustain Lean Conversions by David Mann.
  • Lean Production Simplified: A Plain Language Guide to the World’s Most Powerful Production System by Pascal Dennis.
  • Lean Solutions: How Companies and Customers Can Create Value and Wealth Together by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones.
  • The Gold Mine: A Novel of Lean Turnaround by Freddy Ballé and Michael Ballé.
  • The Toyota Way Fieldbook by Jeffrey Liker and David Meier.
  • Training Within Industry: The Foundation of Lean by Donald A. Dinero.
  • Visual Workplace—Visual Thinking: Creating Enterprise Excellence Through the Technologies of the Visual Workplace by Gwendolyn Galsworth.

The Shingo Prize recipient in the journal article category was “Fixing Healthcare From the Inside, Today” by Steven J. Spear in the Harvard Business Review.

In the applied publication category, the recipient was “Toast Kaizen,” a video by Bruce Hamilton.


Bowers Named Chair of Social Responsibility TAG

Dorothy Bowers has been named chair of the U.S. technical advisory group (TAG) to the ISO working group on social responsibility. This group represents the United States’ interests in the development of ISO 26000, the upcoming social responsibility standard.

Bowers recently completed a three-year term as chair of the National Advisory Council on Environmental Policy and Technology for the Environmental Protection Agency. Before that, she created ISO technical committee (TC) 207, which intially wrote and now updates environmental management standard ISO 14001. She is currently chair of the U.S. TAG to TC 207.

A chemical engineer, Bowers was vice president of environmental policy when she retired from Merck & Co. in 1999 after 25 years with the company.

To learn more about the social responsibility standard, contact the ASQ standards team at standards@asq.org or go to www.asq.org/social-responsibility. The TAG is still seeking involvement from interested parties, specifically from the government and labor sectors.

Short Runs

THE NORTH AMERICAN MANUFACTURING RESEARCH INSTITUTE (NAMRI) and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) have announced the winners of the NAMRI/SME Re-search Implementation Award. The award recognizes individuals for outstanding original research that had a significant commercial or societal im-pact. This year’s recipients were recognized for developing concepts and methods related to the finite element modeling of forming problems. They were: Taylan Altan, Ohio State University; Goverdhan D. Lahoti, the Timken Co.; and Soo Ik Oh, Scientific Forming Technologies Corp. For more information, go to www.sme.org/namri.

ISA, A NONPROFIT AUTOMATION ORGANIZATION, has released the second edition of the ISA Handbook of Measurement Equations and Tables. This version provides hundreds of equations and tables to help select, operate and maintain measurement devices. For more information, go to www.isa.org/books.

THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY is seeking a standards expert for a one-year assignment in Baghdad to work with various agencies to build a standards infrastructure in Iraq. For more information or to apply, go to Career Opportunities at www.ansi.org.

THE JOINT COMMISSION ON ACCREDITATION OF HEALTHCARE ORGANIZATIONS (JCAHO) has begun conducting all onsite accreditation surveys and certification reviews unannounced. JCAHO says the decision to institute unannounced surveys was driven largely by healthcare leaders who wanted to eliminate the significant costs of preparing for onsite evaluations. The leaders also said their organizations should always be prepared for a JCAHO survey. JCAHO accredits or certifies more than 15,000 healthcare organizations. For more information, go to www.jointcommission.org.

ASQ News

ASQ ADDS NEW NETWORK Environmental microbiology is the latest topic to get an online network on ASQ’s website. Open to members and nonmembers, ASQ networks facilitate discussion around particular areas of interest, including the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the economic case for quality, the insurance industry, Six Sigma and Sarbanes Oxley. Registration, which is free, is required to participate in a network. For more information, go to www.asq.org/communities.

CALL FOR PAPERS ISSUED The Quality Management Division is continuing its call for papers for the Quality Management Conference March 1-2, 2007 in Dallas. The conference will feature pre- and postconference courses along with forums, presentation sessions, panels and workshops. For information, go to www.asq.org/qm/conferences.

FOUNDATIONS IN QUALITY GROWING ASQ is adding two new programs to its Foundations in Quality (FIQ) series. The FIQ series features online preparation programs for ASQ certification exams and programs to learn quality basics. A self-directed course to prepare for the certified quality process analyst exam was added in May, and a similar product for the Six Sigma Green Belt exam is scheduled to be available June 30. For more information, go to www.asq.org/self-directed-learning.

CALL FOR CASE STUDIES ASQ is seeking case studies for its Case for Quality initiative. The purpose of the initiative is to share stories of experiences with quality tools, standards and methodologies to help make the case for quality in manufacturing, healthcare, education and government. For more information and to submit a case study, go to www.asq.org/economic-case and click on Case Studies. ASQ staff writers are also available to write the case study based on information provided. For more information on this, contact Noel Wilson at 800-248-1946 or nwilson@asq.org.

FALL TECHNICAL CONFERENCE TURNS 50 The 50th annual Fall Technical Conference, co-sponsored by ASQ’s Chemical and Process Industry Division, Statistics Division and two sections of the American Statistical Assn., will be Oct. 12-13 in Columbus, OH. The theme is “Statistics and Quality: 50 Years of Exploration and Discovery.” Speakers and session leaders include J. Stuart Hunter, Raymond Myers and Norman Draper. For more information, go to www.asq.org/cpi/conferences/2006/index.html.

NAVY TO LAUNCH ASQ LEAN SIX SIGMA CERTIFICATION PROCESS The Department of the Navy (DoN) has teamed with ASQ on a lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification. Under the agreement, the DoN and ASQ developed a testing standards program geared to the needs of the Navy and Marine Corps Acquisition Enterprise, which designs, builds and supports the U.S. fleet of ships, aircraft and combat systems. ASQ administered a pilot certification exam for 50 participants in April and will conduct another exam in late September for an expected 100 participants. For more information, go to

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