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Focus on quality, but properly

TAGS: Business
Lewis Yasenchak is a cofounder and principle of P&Y Management Resources, which he formed in 1994 with a former colleague with the mission to help promote and advance the principles of ‘Lean and Quality Management’ in plastics processing facilities, die/moldmaking operations, and precision metalworking shops. Put another way, he helps them install “an ISO quality system that is meaningful.” P&Y tailors the ISO certification process around a sound business system rather than tailoring the business to the standard.

MPW: How did P&Y come to be?
Yasenchak: I come from a corporate background in operations and finance, working internationally at the Johnson & Johnson family of companies and then for Hoechst Celanese until that company exited plastics in 1986. A Hoechst colleague, Zene Polhemus, and I formed P&Y that year. He later returned to Europe, and I’ve kept the name and the business going.
In 1993 I authored the “ISO 9000 for plastics” working guide to help processors work through the (then) new ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standards. And I’m still helping them with that today.

MPW: What is Lean ISO?
Yasenchak: The goal is to streamline ISO for maximizing front-office and shopfloor efficiency and eliminating waste. Time and again I’ve found that quality managers are creating 20-50% waste in their paperwork. It becomes a burden created by the ISO registrars and becomes cost-prohibitive. I help them streamline this.

MPW: Plastics processors are run by smart people. Why do they need an outsider to review their operations?
Yasenchak: Understanding the pulse of their business is key to success. I go in with an objective mind. But the quality-control people and all company-wide employees need to get in synch. Too many times, QC people are just checking other people. It’s a waste. Find other work for them. Give them leadership and direction. The 20-50% of wasted paperwork is a lot of wasted time, and the operators don’t have time to read it. It needs to be bullet points, with clear visuals, and it needs to be straightforward for machine operators, for purchasing managers, everyone.
With J&J, I used to go out with our engineers and buyers to qualify suppliers. That cost a lot of money. ISO 9000 was supposed to put an end to the need for those visits. It hasn’t worked. ISO has been around since 1988, but 80% of third-party registered companies still aren’t putting out good parts.

MPW: Where’s the disconnect between the paperwork and the production?
Yasenchak: Managers increasingly are focused almost entirely on the money, and not enough on production. The key is showing them that their internal financial controls are being driven by production. There should be management review at least monthly, not quarterly, of production.
And I guarantee an ROI of 10:1. Molders’ customers are forcing them to have ISO certification, so they fill out the paperwork, and then go through a fire drill when the third-party registrar comes to certify them, and later when a customer visits. It shouldn’t be like that.
What needs to be looked at and what I do is to focus on raw materials coming in and in-process; get the customers’ perspective of the company, and help the processor find out what the customer really wants; and help the processor find a niche where he can be a leader, not a follower.

MPW: How long for all of this?
Yasenchak: I need a one-to-two-day initial visit. I have soft skills, too, but I’m not there to make friends, so one to two days is enough to ask hard questions, get a feel for a company—for its paperwork trail and its production. In manufacturing and assembly you need to be sensible when you use the word ‘change’. I push for improvement, maximizing the efficiency in every department. Quality’s been a priority forever. It’s not new, but with more people, more types of products, more ways to make a product, it’s gotten harder to reach.
At the end of that visit I give the boss a Gantt chart, showing where equipment or processes can be improved. I provide them a SWOT (strengths/weaknesses/oppor- tunities/threats) analysis. For that visit they pay $2500, then they decide if they want to keep me to see the changes through. Every six months I do a desktop review, talk with them often and visit whenever necessary.

MPW: It might be easy to buy brand-new, fully automated equipment and be lean and improve quality. But the financing can be tough to get…
Yasenchak: I present the picture to them, and show them the formula, revealing why they might need new machinery, if they do. If financing is a problem, maybe we approach their customers. Those customers want their suppliers to be the plastics experts—sometimes they’ll advance you the funds (for new equipment). But it’s a relationship that needs to be built.
If a person can’t afford new equipment, I go into other details. The biggest culprit is maintenance. If you’ve a 32-cavity mold with four cavities shut, that’s wrong.

MPW: What specifically can processors in the U.S. do to help themselves?
Yasenchak: One of my passions is an apprenticeship program, or at least an apprenticeship mentality. Companies need to take the lead. I show them how to do it, do all of the legwork for them, but the owner needs to buy into it.
I push for a formal suggestion forum, with employees actively discussing suggestions with their supervisors.
At the same time, employees need to be taught what quality is, what it means to their company’s finances…then you don’t need people checking on other people.

MPW: Most of your work is with small-to-mid sized companies, right?
Yasenchak: Yes, because Lean ISO is a way for them to install a quality program for little money. The biggest thing is improving quality at the source. OEMs and Tier Ones are guilty of this, too. They’ve quality inspectors running all over the place, but these QC people are checking other people’s work, instead of peeling back to the root cause, which is the operator. That brings us back to the apprenticeship program.

MPW: What’s hard about ISO compliance?
Yasenchak: Getting into compliance isn’t that hard. Staying there is. The hardest part for the senior person is really understanding the regulations. Most manufacturers think ISO is expensive, which it can be, and they think it takes a long time to implement and sustain. But that’s not the case. The metrics I bring are small steps for the production people, the sales people, the purchasing people, but it adds up to big money.
We usually see costs drop by 10-60%. A QC system shouldn’t be costing money, it should be reducing costs. On the books there’s often 30% that could be saved on the balance sheet just by streamlining operations. This is a technical business but we’re complicating matters with the way quality is controlled anymore.

Lewis Yasenchak is cofounder and principle of P&Y?Management Resources, which consults with small-to-mid sized processors, moldmakers, and other precision manufacturers to help them implement Lean methods and meet and exceed ISO Quality Management Systems. Contact him at +1 706-694-2977 or

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