Consumers Say Quality on the Rise for Autos, PCs

Despite rising vehicle costs and gas prices, consumers recently gave the auto industry its highest perceived quality rating in a decade, says ASQ’s second Quarterly Quality Report of 2006. The PC category also saw significant gains.

The Quarterly Quality Report is an analysis of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), particularly the component that looks at perceived quality of goods and services. The ACSI reports on different industry sectors each quarter. For this year’s second quarter, it focused on manufacturing durables—such as autos and PCs—and e-business.

The auto industry’s perceived quality score was 87, bringing it back to its highest level since the second quarter of 1995.

General Motors’ GMC division experienced the highest increase in perceived quality, and all U.S. brands made progress in catching up to foreign competitors. However, only the domestic luxury brands Buick and Cadillac rank with reigning quality leaders like Toyota, Honda and BMW.

Hyundai has had the biggest turnaround, with gains of 12.7% in perceived quality during the last decade. Jack West, past president of ASQ and author of the Quarterly Quality Report, attributes this to Hyundai’s focus on consumer input, good warranties and process improvement to refine problem areas such as electrical systems and automatic transmission design.

Perceived quality of PCs made a significant jump of 3.8% primarily due to gains by Dell Inc. While it has surpassed Hewlett-Packard in perceived quality, Dell still trails front-runner Apple by a significant amount.

West attributes Dells’s higher second quarter scores to the company’s $100 million commitment to improve its U.S. service centers.

Because the report covers the second quarter of 2006, the data are from before Dell’s recall of 4.1 million laptop batteries for fire hazards. It was the largest recall in consumer electronics history.

The e-business category is reported in two segments: portals and search engines.

Among portals, Yahoo was down significantly, giving up most of the gain it had registered since portals were first measured by the ACSI in 2000. America Online jumped 4% in the second quarter and is up 25.8% since 2000.

Search engines, including Ask.com and Google, all experienced small declines in perceived quality, but the segment as a whole was pulled up by a 4% gain by USAToday.com in the news and information category. Other sites in the news and information category include CNN.com, MSNBC.com, NYTimes.com and ABCNews.com.

To view the entire Quarterly Quality Report, go to www.asq.org/quality-report.


ISO Survey Reveals Significance of Quality Standards

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has published The ISO Survey of Certifications—2005, which sheds light on the roles played in globalization by ISO’s quality and environmental management systems.

Significant findings show growth in the number of certifications to various standards and technical specifications issued in 2004 and 2005 and include the following:

  • ISO 9001 (quality management) certifications issued worldwide increased 18% for the year and now number about 777,000.
  • ISO 14000 (environmental management) certifications issued increased 24%, with the total now more than 111,000.
  • ISO TS 16949 (supply chain management) certifications increased 70% to more than 17,000 certificates issued.
  • ISO 13485 (technical support for regulated areas such as the medical device industry), saw a 111% increase to more than 5,065.

Also significant, ISO reports the increasing use of standards among new players in the world economy, such as China and India, and in the service industry, which accounts for nearly 33% of ISO 9001 and 31% of ISO 14001 certificates issued in 2005.

The survey’s principal findings, including world, regional and country breakdowns, can be found free of charge at www.iso.ch/iso/en/iso900014000/pdf/survey2005.pdf. The complete survey can be purchased through ISO at sales@iso.org or from national member institutes, including the American National Standards Institute at www.ansi.org.


Queen Grants IQA Royal Charter

The Institute of Quality Assurance (IQA), a not-for-profit organization in the United Kingdom, has been granted a Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth. An organization receives a royal charter if it proves its existence is in the interest of the public and that it represents a profession.

To reflect the status, IQA will change its name to Chartered Quality Institute on November 9, United Nations World Quality Day. According to Frank R. Steer, director general and CEO of IQA, the organization has been petitioning for chartered status for the last six years.

IQA, founded in 1919 as the Institute of Engineering Inspection, says it is the world’s oldest quality organization. For more information, go to www.iqa.org.


Greenhouse Gas Standards Available Electronically

The new three-part American national standard based on the first ever international standards related to greenhouse gas reduction and emission trading is now available as an e-standard from ASQ Quality Press.

Order each part as follows (URLs are case sensitive):


AIAG Offers On-Demand Streaming Webcasts

The Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) has announced the availability of on-demand, streaming webcasts on several topics related to its production process approval process (PPAP), measurement systems analysis, the statistical process control reference manual and the early warning standards initiative.

AIAG plans to introduce more webcasts and webinars covering topics such as problem solving, heat treat process, a PPAP question and answer session, a case study on early warning systems, and project updates on material offshore sourcing and the metrology measurement quality data standard.

Registration information on available webcasts can be found at www.aiag.org.

The FACE of Quality

Name: Michael Hablewitz.

Residence: Franklin, WI.

Education: Master’s degree in management from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

First job in/related to quality: Vice president of quality at Twin Disc Inc. In more than 20 years there, also held the position of vice president of manufacturing and helped implement ISO 9000 systems internationally.

Current job: Supply chain director for Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP), a private, not-for-profit company that helps small to mid-sized manufacturers be more competitive and profitable. Manufacturing extension partnerships (MEPs) exist in all 50 states and are partially funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) MEP.

ASQ activities: Member.

Other activities: Senior member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, member of the Assn. of Manufacturing Excellence, past president of his local chapter of the American Production and Inventory Control Society.

Recent honor: One of three WMEP employees to receive the Innovator of the Year Award from NIST’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership. WMEP won the award for its original equipment manufacturer/supplier development initiative. Sixteen area businesses—including Deere and Co. and Harley Davidson Motor Co.—participated in the initiative and reduced lead times an average of 53%.

Personal: Married, six children, 13 grandchildren.

Favorite way to relax: Traveling.

Quality quote: By using value stream mapping as the input to manufacturing critical-path time, we can operationalize speed and drive quality improvement throughout business processes.

Short Runs

THE NATIONAL ASSN. FOR HEALTHCARE QUALITY has announced a call for papers for the 2007 NAHQ Annual Educational Conference in Boston. The deadline for submission is October 20 at 5 p.m. Central time. For more information or to submit an abstract, go to www.nahq.org.

SEVERAL COURSES OFFERED BY THE SAM GROUP have been approved as appropriate for college credit by the American Council on Education’s college credit recommendation service. The SAM Group provides several RABQSA certified courses through ASQ that are related to ISO 13485, ISO/TS 16949 and AS9100. For more information, go to www.thesamgroup.com.

PRESIDENT BUSH has signed an executive order that requires healthcare agencies to provide their enrollees information about the quality and price of common procedures. The order affects agencies that provide coverage to nearly 25% of all Americans with health insurance. Those include the Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs and Defense departments, and the Office of Personnel Management. Agencies have until January 1, 2007, to comply. For more information, go to www.hhs.gov.

WORLD STANDARDS DAY will be celebrated October 11 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC. The celebration honors the efforts of standards and conformity assessment professionals. For more information, go to www.wsd-us.org.

THE AMERICAN NATIONAL STANDARDS INSTITUTE has launched a new version of the National Standards System Network (NSSN) search engine for national, foreign, regional and international standards and regulatory documents. Enhancements include additional content, streamlined design, greater speed, and improved search functionality and results filtering. NSSN, at www.nssn.org, is a partnership between ANSI, U.S. private sector standards organizations, government agencies and international standards organizations.

THE SUPPLY-CHAIN COUNCIL has announced its annual SCOR/Six Sigma/Lean Convergence Forum for October 30-31 in Orlando, FL. SCOR is a cross industry model for analyzing and identifying improvement opportunities in supply chains. For more information, go to www.supply-chain.org.

RAO PRIZE NOMINATIONS will be accepted by the American Statistical Assn. until December 1. The prize recognizes innovations in the theory and practice of mathematical statistics, international leadership in statistical research and pioneering contributions by a leader in the statistics field. For more information, visit

THE AMERICAN BOARD OF QUALITY ASSURANCE and Utilization Review Physicians has signed an agreement with Train for Patient Safety to offer online courses in patient safety. Train for Patient Safety develops online training and organizes the annual Quality Colloquium at Harvard University. Courses under development include introduction to patient safety, role of clinical staff in patient safety, patient safety in the ambulatory care environment, medication safety and patient responsibility. For more information, go to www.trainforpatientsafety.com.

IBM GLOBAL BUSINESS SERVICES says the auto industry isn’t in as dire straits as many believe. IBM researched 100 top auto companies and found significantly more were financially successful in 2005 than in 2001 and determined flexible business models were the key contributing factor. The full report can be found at www.aiag.org/press/releases/general/ibmchanginglanesforsuccess.pdf.

THE RELEASE OF THE NEXT VERSION of ISO 9001 will likely be delayed until 2009, according to communication that followed the June meeting of subcommittee 2 of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) technical committee 176. Calling it an amendment, the revisers are expected to consider only changes necessary for achieving greater alignment of ISO 9001 with ISO 14001.

ISO/IEC 17021, designed to eliminate inconsistencies and reduce questionable practices among ISO 9001 and 14001 certification bodies, has been approved by ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission. The standard is scheduled to be released this October.

MORE THAN 4,700 QUALITY PROFESSIONALS from 19 countries attended the 7th International Conference of Quality Managers this summer in Tehran, Iran. Organized by the Iranian Society of Quality Managers, the conference featured the official launch of Quality Technology Park, the first national research center for quality in Iran. Next years conference is planned for July 2007 in Tehran. For more information, go to www.qm-conference.com or e-mail info@qmconference.com.

THE ACADEMIC QUALITY IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM will offer four education strategy forums in the 2006-2007 academic year, all in Lisle, IL. The four-day forums are scheduled for November 2006 and January, March and May 2007. For more information, go to www.aqip.org.

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