Lean Saves Lives

Projects promote safety, efficiency

Arguably, the ultimate outcome of an effective quality effort is saving lives. Many of our roles influence this indirectly—somewhere way down the "food chain." Two articles this month, however, showcase how quality improvement efforts directly resulted in quantifiable preservation of human life.

In "Carried Away," the authors explain the process and approach the U.S. military takes in designing its medical evacuation helicopters that airlift injured soldiers from combat areas. By incorporating voice of the customer and using design for Six Sigma, the military has been able to design medevac vertical lift platforms that help meet the requirement that injured personnel receive the care they need within 60 minutes of a reported injury. These efforts have also led to the design of cabins that best allow medical personnel to treat critical injuries. Several other quality tools were used in capturing requirements and designing the most accommodating aircraft options possible to ensure injured soldiers receive the best, many times life-saving treatment.

"Roadmap to Savings" details the lean Six Sigma approach an improvement team used to save nearly half a million dollars a year for a Denver toll road system. The methodical application of an array of quality tools led to efficiencies in toll collection, better and faster roadside assistance, and even reductions in potentially fatal car accidents involving deer. The article emphasizes the importance of picking the right projects and focusing on the biggest opportunities through a tailored and targeted lean Six Sigma approach.

Any new-business pipeline requires some type of lead generation. But what happens when you find those leads are falling to the wayside? "Capturing Cash" details how one consulting company whipped its lead capture and follow-up system into shape. With business slipping through its fingers, the company implemented a new process of capturing and following up on its business leads and achieved the desired results.

Finally, "It seems obvious that an ounce of preventive action costs much less than a pound of corrective action," write the authors of this month’s Standards Outlook column, "Not a Game." Risk-based thinking—introduced in the new ISO 9001:2015—helps organizations plan for the uncertainty they certainly face. Risk-based thinking and preventive action can be used to plan and nurture a healthy, properly functioning quality management system. Look for QP’s continued coverage on the revision.

Seiche Sanders

Seiche Sanders

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