Seen & Heard

Missing in standards

The articles on food safety in the March 2013 issue of QP cover a lot of ground—but omit a vital best-practice principle: one-to-one (OTO) flow paths.

In the food industry, a common sight is a group of associates on both sides of a conveyor, each grabbing a food item, doing the same small task (such as add or trim), and dropping the item back on the conveyor. In this process design, a quality issue stemming from a personal failing—such as carelessness, poor training, illness or unclean hands—is difficult to trace back to one in the group. Worse, this "gang" design of the process invites finger-pointing and reduces incentives to be careful, trained, healthy and sanitary.

This situation recommends reorganization into OTO responsibility chains, which is preventive as well as corrective. Extending our simple example, assume one six-person gang adds and trims, followed by six more in the next gang who inspect and pack. An OTO redesign would divide the 12 into, say, three four-person teams. In each, the first person adds and hands to the second person for trim, who passes to the third for inspection, who passes to the fourth for packing and stamping the team number on the carton. Now, there is clear trace-back. But more importantly, with no crowd to hide in, there's elevated motivation to avoid malfeasance.

OTO applies also in mechanized processes. For example, instead of any of three metal forming machines forwarding their outputs to any of three welders—making nine undesignated flow paths—an OTO design would have just three dedicated forming-to-welding flow paths. Trace-back and continuous improvement are much enhanced.

It is not the authors’ fault that none of the articles in the March issue has anything at all to say about designated OTO flow paths. Rather, it is a glaring omission in our standards systems as well as in quality management in general—and a travesty for food quality and safety.

Richard J. Schonberger
Bellevue, WA

From the Twitter-sphere

Check out what readers are tweeting:

@nicoleradziwill: What do the Lakota heyoka and the Fool in Tarot have to do with quality? Great new column in May QP.

@ASQ_ParetoHead: Happy Friday everyone! Something to ponder over the weekend: If variety is the spice of life, then what is variation?

@LaureenLMP: Yum! Gantt chart, scatter diagram, PDSA & more: RT @ASQ: ASQ created an A-Z glossary of quality terms & tools.

@TheNiks586: Confession: I really, really like reading @ASQ Quality Progress’ "Mr. Pareto Head" comic. #geekoftheweek #in

QP’s Most Popular Articles

  1. Likert Scales and Data Analyses: Analyzing ordinal data to get the most out of Likert scale surveys.
  2. Crunching the Numbers: The details behind compiling the 2012 Salary Survey data.
  3. Avoiding an Avalanche: Controlling documents and data to reduce risk.
  4. Balancing Act: Collaboration reduces risk in quality data management.

Online Extras

Know what people want

In this month’s Author Audio, listen to Jonathan D. Port, author of "Feeling Connected," as he discusses how understanding the seven basic desires in each person can lead to high-performing work relationships, motivated employees and better quality.

Navigating uncertainty

View an additional table and figure to gain a better understanding of the F-distribution, a statistical technique used to estimate uncertainty data, the topic of this month’s Measure for Measure column, "Into the Unknown."

Quick Poll Results

Each month at www.qualityprogress.com, visitors can take an informal survey. Here are the numbers from last month’s Quick Poll:

Are you on Twitter?

  • I’ll never tweet. 49%
  • Yes, I actively tweet. 28.3%
  • No, but I’d be open to trying it. 20.7%
  • I plan to set up an account soon. 1.8%

Visit www.qualityprogress.com for the latest question:

What do you think is the most important factor in advancing your career?

  • Obtaining certifications.
  • Achieving advanced degrees.
  • On-the-job experience.
  • Changing jobs.

Quality News Today

Inflamed China Poultry Plant Had One Open Exit
A fire at a poultry processing plant in northeastern China trapped workers inside a cluttered slaughterhouse with only a single open exit, killing at least 119 people in one of the country’s worst industrial disasters in years.

Is Your Email Stressing You Out?
A recent study found a direct link between workplace stress and email use. The findings indicate that employees were more prone to increased stress when reading and sending emails, and less susceptible when retrieving and filing email messages.

Average Rating


Out of 0 Ratings
Rate this article

Add Comments

View comments
Comments FAQ

Featured advertisers