Category Archives: Editorial

Event Summary: 1st Annual Independence Park Beautification Event

Half of the Independence Park Clean up Volunteers25 volunteers and their families participated in the 1st Annual Independence Park Beautification Event in Newark on Saturday 4/26. The event was co-sponsored by the ASQ NY/NJ Metro Section and The Spanish Tavern (our Section’s home away from home) located on McWhorter Street in the Ironbound Section of Newark. We were also joined by enthusiastic volunteers from Virgin American located in Newark Airport. The Virgin American volunteer team was led by Sherriale Garnett. All of the Virgin Atlantic team worked for the Customer Service Concierge Group. They were extremely passionate about giving back to their community in Newark and concentrated on the playground area.

Tito from The Essex County Parks System distributed pick-up sticks, gloves, and garbage bags at no cost.

Our volunteer crew concentrated on a “Micro Clean-up” and also picked up any other garbage and cans/bottles for recycling. We picked up hundreds of cigarette butts and pieces of broken glass.

The volunteers from the Spanish Tavern were like wolves digging into bushes to find trapped garbage and even a large cart from behind a bush (nice work Wilbert!). This park is in the same neighborhood as the Spanish Tavern. John, his staff, and their families from the Spanish Tavern were especially committed to giving back to their community.

Finally, the ASQ volunteers worked to organize the event and dedicated ourselves to help beautify a park in our adopted home with and for people that we truly care about. All of our volunteers worked tirelessly to help make Independence Park the most beautiful Park in all of Essex County.

The entire day was a true “Labor of Love”. We all agreed that there WILL BE a 2nd Annual Independence Park Beautification Event next year held on the weekend that coincides with Earth Day. Virgin American also was invited and agreed to be a co-sponsor for this event next year.

Our heartfelt THANKS to everyone involved in this fun “feel good” event. See you next year!

David H. Sherman
Continue reading Event Summary: 1st Annual Independence Park Beautification Event

Anheuser-Busch (A-B) Newark Plant Tour Event Report

The NY/NJ Metro Section was happy to welcome over 50 ASQ colleagues to a Plant Tour and Dinner hosted by Anheuser-Busch at their Newark, NJ Brewery. The Dinner portion of the evening included tasty Beer and Food pairings.

Members from the NY/NJ Metro, Tappan Zee, Northern NJ, and Princeton Sections all attended this SOLD OUT event.

Here are some Comments from questionnaires that were left by our Membership:

· Mary Anne Fink from Integra Life Science: “Excellent! Very interesting. Very professional. Impressive.

· J. Stuart Hunter from Princeton University: “…Overall, an excellent tour, most impressive.

· John Sandy from NJ Transit Rail: “Great tour – for my first time, I was impressed.

The word that stands out is IMPRESSIVE! What a great one word summary of the fun and educational evening that we enjoyed with our impressive hosts.

We would like to sincerely thank Gary Wysocki (Management System Specialist) for leading this terrific event with style and his Beer Ambassadors for sharing their expertise and terrific sense of humor.

When you say BUD you’ve said it ALL!!!

photo: A-B Beer Ambassadors May 2014
A-B Beer Ambassadors May 2014
photo: Gary Beer Pouring Demo Right Down the Center May 2014
Gary Beer Pouring Demo Right Down the Center
photo: A-B Plant Tour May 2014
A-B Plant Tour May 2014

Photos from the QA Foxhole

Photo: Austin Lin
Austin Lin
Thanks for a great Section meeting yesterday and thanks again for Dave and Bill for an engaging QA presentation (with full set props and all!). They presented on Survivor Stories, a set of case studies from “the QA foxhole” out in the field and we covered everything from imported radios and drug testing to Madagascar vanilla extract and computer monitor quality. Continue reading Photos from the QA Foxhole

Social Darwinism across a Wire: The Criticality of Quality Management from a Distance in the Modern Supply Chain

Photo: Austin Lin
Austin Lin
In the expanding markets of the modern era, the connectivity between business units, internal customers, and external supply chains from vendors to consumers are becoming more complex. Supply chains no longer extend exclusively across towns or even cities — distances now range from 30 minute drives down the interstate to 30 days of ocean freight to other continents.

As the market evolves, so does the necessity for supply chain quality management to adapt alongside it. In addition to these complexities, there are now cultural differences affecting the changing business environment, whether regionally within a country or globally between nations.

What hasn’t changed is that the customer still expects products and services to be delivered on time and to specification. How does the evolving company best position itself to deliver these demands?

Attendees will be introduced to three Evolutionary changes needed in order to maintain pace with assuring customer/ consumer quality amidst the challenges of the modern supply chain:

Evolution 1: Data Delivery and Consistency

How One collects data and makes comparisons between manufacturing sites. Is all data created equal? What’s the difference between real time data collection vs. real time SPC? Can a process be “over-standardized”?

Evolution 2: Quality Touch Points

How does a typical 1950s US supply chain compare to a 2008 international supply chain? How do these changes in supply chain complexity make quality controls all the more critical? How does one incorporate logistics and freight forwarders into the quality equation?

Evolution 3: Cultural Convergence

How do companies face the modern challenges of cultural and business practices, both regionally and globally, including language & time zone differences?

Outsourcing and Quality

Photo: W. J. Latzko, Ph.D.
W. J. Latzko, Ph.D.
The recent recalls of products made in China underlines the need for an active program to assure the salability of goods and services when outsourcing. The only reason a company has to outsource the production of items, or the operation of a call center, or the production of a computer program is to reduce costs. Everyone knows that reduced costs increase profits. Or do they?

When outsourcing, one must not forget that the customer is interested in value. Value includes the price and the quality of the product or service. A product or service for which one has paid good money must be able to deliver what the supplier promised. Unfortunately, some use outsourcing to reduce costs without examining whether the quality is the same as that resulting from company employees.

Is the outsourcing supplier consistently delivering useable output that will delight the customer? Note the word “consistently.” The output of a supplier whether foreign or domestic is a process. Processes have variation inherent in their application. If this variation is within supportable limits the process is delivering the desired quality. If the outsourcing supplier delivers quality output at one time and not at others, costs increase. Just ask the folks at Mattel. Their China factories produced defective toys, causing expensive recalls. Not only did it cost out-of-pocket money but reputation as well. In an effort to restore their damaged good name, Matell’s Chairman and CEO has a message on the Internet (go to http://www.mattel.com/safety/us/) trying to restore consumer confidence—read not lose sales.

Unfortunately, many companies that outsource their products and services rely on inspection to maintain quality. In our profession, we know that reliance on inspection without process controls is not 100% effective and, therefore, not safe. Companies that outsource their work, would do well to employ professional people, who understand the issues of quality, and act on their advice. It is cheap insurance. Just ask Mattel.

Blame Quality Control

The situation

Photo: W. J. Latzko, Ph.D.
W. J. Latzko, Ph.D.
Recently the Wall Street Journal reported on an error that appears to have occurred in the Philadelphia Mint’s production of the new dollar coin. Of the 300 million coins produced by the mints, an estimated 50,000 coins did not have the edge-incised inscription, “In God We Trust”, “E Pluribus Unum”, the year and the mintmark.

“We take this matter seriously. We also consider quality control a high priority. The agency is looking into the matter to determine a possible cause in the manufacturing process”, was a statement from the mint. The Wall Street Journal carried this further by interviewing Mr. Ron Guth, president of Professional Coin Grading Service. Mr. Guth’s opinion was quoted in the Wall Street Journal that, “it appeared from the roughly 50 smooth-edged dollars he has authenticated that the problem had to do with quality control rather than mechanical error.

In my opinion, both Mr. Guth and the Wall Street Journal do not understand the function of quality control. They are falling into a common misconception that when a mistake occurs that it is the fault of the people known as “quality control”.

It is true that some companies call the production functions of checking work—and perhaps correcting it—”Quality Control”. That is NOT quality control in the technical sense. That is a production task called inspection or auditing. There are two issues with this method of assuring quality: (1) it is not failsafe since the auditors (appraisers) miss some bad work and (2) this guarantees that the escape rate of errors remains unchanged. Let us examine these two issues.

Finding all the defects (some call this a non-conformance).

There are two types of inspection: independent and dependent.

In independent inspection, one replicates the work and one compares the two outcomes. For example, many web sites require that you initially enter a password and they require that you enter it a second time. If the two entries agree, the system records the password. If they do not agree, the program generates an error message. Although safer than dependent inspection, in case of disagreement, one knows not which is correct and which is in error.

Dependent inspection requires a second look at the completed work. This is more difficult. By way of illustration take 30 seconds and count the letter S that appears in the following sentence: SHE SELLS SEASHELLS BY THE SEASHORE. It takes a lot to get the right number the first time. Did you see two, three or more? The correct answer is that eight of the letters appear in the sentence.

Dependent inspection is rarely 100% accurate in finding the non-conformance that exists in a mass of work. A more likely number is 80% non-conformances found. Inspection at the mint is of necessity dependent. Could a batch of coins been missed for the second process of inscribing the rim? Certainly, inspectors could miss such an event. Do not blame them. Blame the process that operated with inefficient controls.

The escape rate of errors

If inspection cannot guarantee 100% error free output, what is one to do? The answer lies in working on the process to make it error free. This requires management action and measurement. The measurement tool is the control chart invented by Dr. Walter Shewhart in the 1920’s. The word control was an unfortunate choice on the part of Dr. Shewhart since it implies a police activity. In fact, what he meant by the word was the ability to predict that a stable process will continue at its current level of quality as long as the process remains unchanged.

The finding and removing errors does not improve the process. Dr. W. Edwards Deming used the analogy of a fire. “If there is a fire (errors) in the building (process)”, he used to say, “and you put it out you have not improved the building.” (The writer inserted the parentheses.) Of course, one wants to save a building. It is far more economical to avoid the fire in the first place.

Inspection not only is expensive and less than 100% efficient, it lulls management into a false sense of security. True quality control uses failsafe processes and monitors these for conformance with a control chart.

If a problem happens, don’t blame quality control, blame the people in charge of the process who allowed it to happen, management. Are you listening Wall Street Journal?

Sustainability and Quality

Photo: W. J. Latzko, Ph.D.
W. J. Latzko, Ph.D.
The concept of sustainability has been around for some decades. The recent Conference in New York on Global Initiative saw several billion dollars pledged, much of which helps to achieve sustainability. So what is sustainability?

The Bruntland Report (The UN World Commission on Environment and Development) developed a definition in 1987 that read: “Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Or, as Professor James Weldon of Fordham University put it, “Sustainability is having a seat when the music stops.”

For many years, the use of natural resources without replenishment was the norm in the Industrial revolution. The resources were so plentiful that no one thought that we could deplete them. Unlike nature, that recycles, we have great areas of waste. Environmental Standards such as ISO 14000 attempt to address this issue. But, the problem goes further. Sustainability goes beyond environmental issues. As Hitchcock and Willard (2006) stated, “Sustainability is different from the environmental movement in that it recognizes the need for a healthy economy. Nature does have certain limits that we must learn to live within or suffer the consequence.” They concluded, “We need to get better, not bigger”.

Of the roughly six billion people on Earth one billion lives well. (That is us.) About two billion get by. The other three billion have trouble surviving. This division is a source of conflict. Sustainability can help bring all this population to a level of living that we wish for.

So where does quality come in. There are certain aspects where we, as quality professionals, have already done much good. Our profession helps in the reduction of waste and the efficient use of our resources.

We can do more.

We can help in the design for environment. When our organizations plan new products and services, we can use our specialized knowledge to make sure that they plan on the replenishment of resources.

We can help them with Life Cycle Assessment and Life Cycle Costing. (This reminds me of Deming’s, “Don’t buy on Price Tag Alone”).

We can help in getting rid of harmful products in creating added value and help make sure that at the end of its useful life the residual of the products do not cause harm. We should ask if the materials we plan to use are or will become one of five classes: carcinogens, teratogens (cause birth defects), endocrine disruptors, mutagens (cause mutation of genetic code), or persistent bioaccumulative toxins ( PBT- harmful chemicals that accumulate in the body).

Deming showed us that our profession can help in another aspect of sustainability: the creation of jobs. He said that if we improve quality → costs decrease because of less rework, fewer mistakes, fewer delays, snags → productivity improves → capture the market with better quality and price → stay in business → provide jobs and more jobs!

Clearly, quality plays a big role in sustainability.

Reference List

Hitchcock, D. E. & Willard, M. L. (2006). The Business Guide to Sustainability: Parctical Strategies and Tools for Organizations. London: Earthscan.

Sarbanes-Oxley and Quality Control

Photo: W. J. Latzko, Ph.D.
W. J. Latzko, Ph.D.

The purpose of the act

There is a great deal of interest by the quality community in the Sarbanes-Oxley act of 2002 (H. R. 3763). Senator Paul S. Sarbanes and Congressman Michael G. Oxley, created this act to set rules for CEO’s, CFO’s, their attorneys, and their auditors for the creation of financial reports used by investors (e.g. Annual Reports). What prompted this act was the disclosure of major wrong doings in large corporations and major auditing firms. The purpose of the act is to give investors the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

The alphabet soup

The act spawned a whole set of acronyms which refer to its implementation and interpretation. One hears of SOX, PCAOB, COSO, COBIT and similar acronyms. We will try to clarify some of these terms and show how they fit in.

The act’s requirements and the PCAOB

SOX refers to the Sarbanes-Oxley act itself. One can find the 66 pages of the act at http://www.law.uc.edu/CCL/SOact/soact.pdf. It is worth reading but be warned that it is not light reading.

Title I, the first real chapter of the act, sets up a non-profit corporation called the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). It is the function of the PCAOB “to oversee the audit of public …, in order to protect the interests of investors and further the public interest in the preparation of informative, accurate, and independent audit reports for companies the securities of which are sold to, and held by and for, public investors.”

The act requires the PCAOB to set standards and register public accounting firms. Your editor was told that over 1200 firms have applied and that, to-date, over 800 are registered. You see can full details at the PCAOB’s web site http://www.pcaobus.org/index.aspx under “Registration”.

The act uses the words “quality control” 15 times with four additional mentions of the word “quality”. In all cases, this refers to the auditing firm. The use of the word “quality” relates solely to the financial integrity of the audit report issued by the external auditors.

Sections 302 and 404 require that management establish and maintain internal controls. In both cases, these controls are for assuring that the financial reports are accurate and true. Welytok (2006, p. 156) distinguishes the way the term “internal Control” is used in the two sections. She indicates that in Section 302, the act refers to “disclosure controls and procedures. In Section 404 the act refers to “internal control over financial reporting”. Nowhere does the act require quality control of the audited company.

COBIT

Since companies collect most financial data these days on computers, the IT Governing Institute (ITGI) established a standard for information technology (IT). This set of standards they call, “Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology”. This standard results in the acronym COBIT. You can access the standard at http://www.isaca.org/ . The organization developed a subset that specifically addresses the financial aspects required by Sarbanes-Oxley. The organization places the subset standard on its web site at http://www.isaca.org/Content/ContentGroups/Research1/Deliverables/IT_Control_Objectives_for_Sarbanes-Oxley_7july04.pdf

COSO

COSO stands for the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission. “The SEC specifically refers to [COSO] as an acceptable framework for management’s internal control assessment.” (Welytok, 2006, p. 159) Again, the issue is financial reporting not quality control in the sense in which we apply it.

Sarbanes-Oxley and Quality

The Sarbanes-Oxley act has some similarities with ISO 9000. Both are inspection or audit oriented. Both are procedure driven. Both maintain the status quo as far as quality is concerned. In this writer’s opinion, the Sarbanes-Oxley act is valuable for the financial and investing sector. It does not advance quality in its present state. The only group required to look at quality control is the public auditing profession of 800 to 1200 firms. One can read their quality control methods at http://registrationapplications.pcaobus.org/ by going to the bottom of the page and entering the name of an Audit Firm. The PCAOB has set some interim standards for the control of quality of the auditors. One can view these standards at http://www.pcaobus.org/Standards/Interim_Standards/Quality_Control_Standards/index.aspx.

Reference List

Welytok, J. G. (2006). Sarbanes-Oxley for Dummies.