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Product Safety

Message to Firms Using Overseas Manufacturers: ‘Get Over There’

It’s not enough for Chinese manufacturers to use quality practices to ensure safe products. American corporate management teams must better understand product safety and liability prevention to avoid product failures, recalls and potential disasters.

And the teams need to “get over there” and look at what their overseas suppliers are doing, according to one quality expert who specializes in product safety and liability.

“For the immediate future, American companies better ensure that they’re getting what they’re paying for, and not depend on anyone else for such assurance,” said Randy Goodden, chairman of ASQ’s product safety and liability prevention interest group.

“That means that they have to get over there and monitor the production of their own products, or hire a reliable third party to inspect and monitor the production for them,” he said.

According to Associated Press reports, last year Mattel Inc. recalled 21 million toys based on fears they were tainted with lead paint and included tiny magnets that children could swallow. Mattel’s own tests on the toys found that they had lead levels up to 200 times the government-mandated limit.

Last month, a coalition of environmental and health organizations released test results on 1,200 toys and children’s products that found 35% contained lead, many with levels far above the federal recall standard used for lead paint.

“The final answer to the ‘China syndrome’ will ultimately involve concerted efforts on the part of the Chinese suppliers, the American corporate customers and government agencies in both countries assuring that the products being manufactured and shipped are safe and reliable,” Goodden said.

The recent toy recalls should be a sobering reminder of the tremendous risk and liability issues for all American companies that have their products made overseas.

American companies often don’t comprehend the “unrecognized liability risk” if something goes wrong with their products made overseas, he said.

“If the off-shore supplier doesn’t maintain a presence in the United States, or if other special provisions aren’t initiated, the American company will end up being fully liable for such incidents, with no legal recourse against their off-shore supplier,” Goodden added. “The concern involves more than just toys.

“We have to keep in mind that 40% of all consumer products imported into the United States are from China, and roughly 70% of all products recalled this year were from China,” Goodden said.

—Mark Edmund


ISO 26000 Working Group Session Draws 400

The recent Vienna, Austria, meeting of the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) working group on social responsibility, which is developing the ISO 26000 standard, drew record participation of 400 experts representing six stakeholder groups.

Stakeholder groups included industry, government, labor, consumers and nongovernmental organizations. Participants discussed the third working draft of ISO 26000 and resolved enough topics to enable work to begin on a fourth draft.

ISO 26000 will contain guidance, not requirements. It is not a management system standard and will not be used as a certification standard.

The next meeting of the working group will be in Santiago, Chile, in September. On behalf of the American National Standards Institute, ASQ is administering the U.S. technical advisory group to ISO technical committee 207, which is writing the standard.


Engineers Week Feb. 17-23

This year’s Engineers Week is slated for Feb. 17-23. The week is the culmination of many events designed to increase interest in engineering and technology among young students and to promote precollege literacy in math and science.

Engineers Week activities include:

  • Design Squad, a invention contest for 9- to 12-year-olds. The Future City Competition, in which middle school students work with teachers and engineers to create cities of tomorrow.
  • DiscoverE, in which engineers work with students and teachers through classroom visits and extracurricular activities.
  • Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, in which engineers mentor students in grades K-12.
  • Engineers Without Borders, which delivers sustainable engineering solutions to communities in need.
  • New Faces of Engineering, which recognizes achievements of young engineers who have been in the workforce for five years or less.

For information on these programs and other projects during Engineers Week, go to www.eweek.org.

Who’s Who in Q

Name: David B. Levy.

Residence: Cortlandt Manor, NY.

Education: Master’s degree in operations management, Polytechnic University, Brooklyn, NY.

First job in/related to quality: Quality assurance manager/quality assurance engineer at Russell Plastics Technology Co., Lindenhurst, NY.

CURRENT JOB: Principal quality consultant, Levy Quality Consulting Co.

PREVIOUS JOBS: Levy has been involved in the quality profession for more than 20 years as a director, manager, engineer, auditor and independent consultant.

INTRODUCTION TO QUALITY: In his first real job as a lab technician, he tested materials prior to use by manufacturing and released acceptable materials. He also requalified shelf-life controlled materials. At the time, he did not realize he was actually performing quality control activities.

asq activities: Levy is a senior member of ASQ and holds four certifications: manager of quality/organizational excellence, quality engineer, quality auditor and quality improvement associate. He is an ASQ board member, the regional director for Region 3 and vice chair of the section affairs council, and is active in the Tappan Zee section.

OTHER ACTIVITIES/ACHIEVEMENTS: Levy has served on several ASQ teams and committees, including the nominating and research committees, section affairs council, the Ideas to Action gathering design team and the SOAR education and training initiative structure team.

RECENT HONOR: Received the R. Shaw Goldthwait Award from the North East Quality Council in 2007.

PERSONAL: Married, father of two.

FAVORITE WAYS TO RELAX: Skiing, swimming, traveling, music, reading and spending time with his family.

QUALITY QUOTE: How we do it is based on data. Why we do it is based on emotion.


Indian Companies Lead at Deming Prize Ceremony

Four Indian companies took home 2007 Deming Prizes, including the Japan Quality Medal, during ceremonies recently in Tokyo. The companies honored at the annual event included:

  • Asahi India Glass Ltd. (auto glass division) and Rane (Madras) Ltd., an auto parts manufacturer, were both awarded the Dem- ing Application Prize.
  • Reliance Industries Ltd. (Hariza manufacturing division), an energy company, was awarded the Quality Control Award for operations’ business units. Reliance is India’s largest private sector company.
  • Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. (farm equipment sector), the third largest maker of tractors in the world, received the Japan Quality Medal.

At the ceremony, two of these award recipients discussed the importance of quality and their companies’ ongoing commitment to quality.

“Quality management has enabled us to unlock the ability for more creativity and massive improvements,” said Sanjay Labroo, Asahi’s CEO. “We are on a never-ending journey and accept this award as a milestone on this long journey.”

H.S. Kohli, Reliance’s executive director, echoed those sentiments. “I’m committed to quality, and we will continue our journey and spread the movement,” Kohli said.

The ceremony and prizes commemorate W. Edwards Deming’s contribution to transforming post World War II Japan into a global competitor by promoting quality concepts and teaching a new management philosophy that would deliver quality. The first awards were in 1951 at the first Quality Control Congress.

The Deming Prizes are sponsored by the Joint Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE). About 300 people attended the annual event, including W. Edwards Deming’s daughter, Diana Deming Cahill, and her family.

Others were recognized during the ceremony for various achievements, including:

Total quality management—Anritsu Techmac Co. Ltd., Nabtesco Corp. (Seishin plant manufacturing division) and Yukiguni Maitake Co. Ltd. (production division and research and development department).

Quality innovation—Corona Co. (manufacturing division), Computer Institute of Japan Ltd. (wide business division and systems integration business division), CBM Co. Ltd. of Citizen Group and Nissan Shatai Co. Ltd.

Masayoshi Ushikubo, the chairman of Sanden Corp., a Japanese compressor manufacturer, received the Deming Prize for individuals. Ushikubo was recognized for his leadership in helping his company and others adopt the Deming quality philosophy.

—Marcia Daszko

Editor’s note: Daszko, an independent consultant based in California, attended the ceremony in Tokyo. She was a mentee of W. Edwards Deming.


Executive Order Requires Performance Tracking of All Federal Agencies

Perhaps signaling a renewed commitment toward improving government performance, President Bush issued an executive order in late November requiring more accountability of federal agencies.

The order requires agencies to set goals, develop ways to measure progress, use performance data in budget requests and set up websites to describe “the successes, shortfalls and challenges of each program,” and efforts to improve them, the Washington Post reported.

The order mandates that each agency appoint a performance improvement officer to coordinate “sufficiently aggressive” goals and plans for programs, according to the Post article. The order also creates a performance improvement council in the Office of Management and Budget so that agencies and the office can coordinate efforts.

To view the entire executive order, visit www.whitehouse.gov/index.html, and refer to “Executive Orders” located under the News section.


TRAINING FOR K-12 TEACHERS New training has been developed by ASQ for teachers to use quality concepts and tools with their students. The suite of modular training courses—called ImpaQT Training for the Classroom—can be delivered in a three-day, on-site program and covers: development of vision, mission and goals; continuous improvement and quality tools; motivation and planning; and quality tools for data display. Similar training modules geared toward principals and superintendents are also in the works.

MEMBERS TO ASQ: GO GLOBAL ASQ should become more active in countries outside of North America and respond to the growing interest in quality management and control throughout the world. That’s what 80% of ASQ members said in a recent survey conducted by ASQ’s international transformation task force. ASQ must adapt to each country and develop an incremental strategy, members said.

TWO NEW SECTIONS CREATED The board of directors recently approved the formation of two new sections: Newfoundland and Labrador Section 413 and Central Wisconsin 1218. This brings the total number of ASQ sections to 255.

MEMBERS RECOGNIZED Susan O. Schall, a senior member of ASQ, was recently named a fellow of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Navin S. Dedhia, an ASQ fellow, recently received the Asia Pacific Quality Organization’s Harrington-Ishikawa Medal.

MEMBERSHIP VALUE QUANTIFED An ASQ membership is worth more than $10,000, according to focus groups attendees who were asked over the last three years to place dollar figures on various ASQ membership benefits. Focus group members quantified what they thought various ASQ benefits were worth, including certification, networking, training, sections, opportunities for involvement and leadership, credibility with customers, and division and forums.

ASQ DIVISIONS TO HOST CONFERENCE Three ASQ divisions are combining efforts to host a conference in March on quality, government and regulations. The Government, Biomedical, and Food, Drug and Cosmetic divisions have planned the two-day conference March 27-28 in Alexandria, VA. For more information, visit any of the division websites (www.asq.org/gov, www.asq.org/biomed or www.asq.org/fdc) or e-mail David Manalan at dmanalan@alum.MIT.edu.


2008 Application Deadlines Near

Four deadlines related to applying for the 2008 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards (MBNQA) are approaching:

  • March 7 for submitting an eligibility certification package that includes a nomination to the MBNQA Board of Examiners.
  • April 8 for submitting an eligibility certification package without a nomination to the MBNQA Board of Examiners.
  • May 8 for submitting the 2008 application package in CD/PDF format.
  • May 22 for submitting the 2008 application package on paper.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology manages the award for the Department of Commerce. The awards are presented annually by the U.S. president. ASQ administers and is a sponsor of the MBNQA.

Award application and eligibility forms are available at www.quality.nist.gov/Award_Application.htm (case sensitive). Paper copies of these documents can be requested at nqp@nist.gov or by calling 301-975-2036.


THE ANSI-ASQ NATIONAL ACCREDITATION BOARD (ANAB) recently named John J. Knappenberger as its incoming president. He will oversee ANAB accreditation programs for management systems and test and calibration laboratories. Knappenberger previously served as vice president of IT and administration at Dura Automotive Systems Inc. in Rochester Hills, MI. Knappenberger succeeds Robert H. King, who announced his retirement early last year.

AMERICAN HOSPITALS ARE IMPROVING the quality of care provided to patients with heart attacks, heart failure, pneumonia and surgical conditions, according to a recent report released by the Joint Commission, a healthcare accrediting body. The report also reveals that when hospitals are required to follow standardized processes for quality measurement, reporting and improvement, performance levels are more positive. To view the report, “Improving America’s Hospitals: The Joint Commission’s Annual Report on Quality and Safety 2007,” visit www.jointcommissionreport.org.

HOSPITALS’ ON-CALL COVERAGE for specialist physicians is suffering because of high demand, revealed a recent study by the Center for Studying Health System Change. Hospitals have responded by enforcing medical staff bylaws requiring physicians to take a call, contracting with physicians to provide coverage, paying physicians daily or monthly stipends, and employing specialists. To view the entire report, visit www.hschange.org/CONTENT/956/ (case sensitive).

THE 14 INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS that make up the ISO 9000 family of generic quality management standards are now available in the paper and CD-ROM editions of The ISO Standards Collection. Two standards at the final draft stage are also included. The book can be purchased from the International Organization for Standardization national member institute (www.ansi.org in the United States).

KPMG’S 2007 GLOBAL MANUFACTURING SURVEY shows that high performing companies are more concerned with the management burden of compliance to standards than its cost, but they are more likely to invest in compliance. The companies’ perception of risk is focused on relations with customers and suppliers. At the same time, manufacturing in east Asia and China is seen as problematic. However, quality failures are viewed as management rather than location failures. To view the entire KPMG survey, visit www.kpmg.com/industries/im/other/manufacturingbenchmark2007.htm.

THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ACTION GROUP, Hong Kong Productivity Council and Economic and Trade Commission of Fujian Province will collaborate to help Chinese suppliers in the province become global suppliers to the automotive industry. For details of the agreement, go to www.aiag.org.


Peter L. Andres has been identified as the candidate for ASQ president-elect for the 2008-2009 membership year board of directors.

Andres will become the 60th president of ASQ following next year’s elections, assuming another candidate doesn’t enter the election through petition. Andres is a quality engineer of integration, simulation and testing at Boeing’s future combat systems program in Huntington Beach, CA.

Other candidates announced for the board of directors:

Director: Aimee H. Siegler, supplier development engineer, Benchmark Electronics, Winona, MN.

Director: Alexis P. Goncalves, consultant and former senior vice president, customer experience management, Citigroup—Global Consumer Division, New York City.

Other candidates announced earlier last year are:

Chairman: Mike Nichols, principal consultant, Nichols Quality Associates, North Carolina.

President: Roberto M. Saco, owner and principal, Aporia Advisors Inc., Florida.

Treasurer: E. David Spong, consultant and former president of aerospace support, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, Missouri.

Election rules do not allow candidates to campaign or have others campaign for them. Proxies and position statements for each candidate running for a contested office will be sent to all regular members by Feb. 29. The results of the election will be announced in May during ASQ’s annual business meeting, which will be held in conjunction with the World Conference on Quality and Improvement in Houston.

--Daryl Martin, 01-22-2008

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