HR (human resources) and IT (information technology) today are common practices for companies to outsource; why not Quality? The very first requirement in any quality system is to have in place a clean housekeeping policy which has an effect on safety. Implement the popular 5S ASAP (as soon as possible). A new set of eyes from an outsider can be very beneficial. However, the outsider consultant/facilitator/project manager/trainer must be industry-specific for plastics to support company operating policies and financials, mainly improvements of the P&L statement.
[Ed. Note: 5S refers to a workplace organization methodology based on the five Japanese words seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu and shitsuke. The words and the thinking behind each offer guidance on how best to organize a workspace. They translate loosely as sort, set in order, sweep (keep a clean workspace), standardize and sustain.]
While the manufacturing industry is aware of the benefits outsourcing can provide, few realize that these benefits can be applied to a more effective and efficient quality management system; maintaining positive cash flow, controlling costs and accelerating profitable growth, allowing entrepreneurs and managers to make the most of their work and their lives.
Plastics processors, injection molders and extruders of tubing and profiles for industrial, automotive, aerospace and medical applications are aware what quality system and documentations are mandated. Before you get a chance to become a supplier to any of these markets, a document analysis will tell you 90% of what you need to know. Here's what you need to have:
a. Quality certifications (i.e. ISO)
b. Drawing of parts
c. Process flow chart
d. Control plan
e. Dimensional layout
f. Production FMEA (failure mode and effects analysis)
g. Capability study
h. Gage R&R (Gage reliability and repeatability study)
i. Material certification/material tests
This will give you a good first indication of the facility's strengths and weaknesses. Each document should be examined carefully.
After your paperwork is in order, visit all manufacturing processes in order of the Control Plan. While different processes vary in scope and details, all share common attributes that should be examined. These attributes are:
a. Posting of work instructions
b. Quality of machinery
c. Quantity / availability of equipment
d. Secondary operations / assembly
e. Measuring tools
f. Materials handling
g. Material transport
h. Handling of non-compliant material
When walking the floor, it is important to actually watch each process being performed and not just settle for having the process described to you. Observation can spot an anomaly that cannot be detected any other way.
At the end of the tour, the potential customer or even your existing customer may take you aside to tell you if he really intends to do business. If he does, he will say so. If not, explain that, if your facility improves in the areas discussed, you would ask the customer to reconsider since you have already established a relationship and have strengthened the opportunities for improvements.
A free report on implementing 5S and the above-mentioned documents is available by contacting the author of this article.
About the author: Lewis Yasenchak works as a consultant with small-to-mid sized processors, moldmakers and other precision manufacturers to help them "implement quality at the source" rather than catch mistakes once made, and also to minimize waste by meeting and exceeding ISO Quality Management Systems. Contact him at T: 706-694-2977 or [email protected].