ASQ - Six Sigma Forum

Terry McManus, quality systems manager at DeWAL

Terry McManus

Where do you work?
DeWAL Industries Inc. in Narragansett, RI.

What do you do?
I’ve been the quality systems manager for DeWAL Industries Inc. in Narragansett, RI, for 15 years.  We manufacture polytetrafluoroethylene, expanded polytetrafluoroethylene, ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene and other thin fluoropolymer film products.  We also manufacture pressure-sensitive tapes that use the backings we produce as well as other substrates and laminates.

What’s your educational background?
I am a certified manufacturing engineer through the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, certified lead assessor for quality management systems through the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board and a Master Black Belt from the Aveta Business Institute.

How long have you been an ASQ member?
I’ve been an active ASQ member for more than 25 years and am currently a senior member. I’ve served as the chair of the Rhode Island section’s Continuous Improvement Conference and as secretary of its Education Committee.

What do you think is most important in implementing a Six Sigma project?
Tailoring it to a specific goal rather than multiple projects that are tied together.  It’s critical to organize a plan with a charter that fully describes the goals of the project in a clear and concise manner, ensure action can be taken on those goals through structured events and monitor the status of those events and their interactions with one another. After the project’s stakeholders agree on a clear definition of the scope, the implementation phase becomes easier and has fewer surprises.
Why do you think Six Sigma is important?
I believe Six Sigma alone is one important tool in a set of methods that should be considered when investigating any issue. It shouldn’t be applied to every concern, and I believe it’s used too often as a one-size-fits-all solution. It provides mechanisms and tools to guide an improvement effort, but it should only be deployed when a solid benefit is likely to result.

Why do you think quality is important?
Without quality, there wouldn’t be a basis for “as is” and “could be” assessments. Quality assessments allow you to understand where you are in any process versus where you think you should be or want to be. It allows measurement of your progress toward those goals that would otherwise be impossible. Quality also isn’t relegated to manufacturing and should be applied wherever possible in your daily life.

What’s your favorite benefit of quality?
I like when a difficult, long-standing problem is resolved by using the proper quality tools, and it benefits an employer, industry or society as a whole.

Why did you choose to go into the quality field?
I started down the path of quality assurance (QA) at the age of 21, while training to be a toolmaker at a watch manufacturer. I enjoyed getting the first item correctly set up and made, but I learned early on that I didn’t want to operate machines for the rest of my life. The quality inspector thought I might enjoy working in QA. I took a leap of faith and left the training program to become an in-process inspector for a different organization. Within three years, I was hired for my first QA manager position, and since that day, I’ve been in quality management and quality management systems development.

What’s your best advice to someone new to quality?
Early in your career, decide what type of quality field you want to be involved in (such as manufacturing, machining, electronic, medical), and focus on obtaining as much exposure as possible to that industry’s manufacturing and quality methods.

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