Quality Staff 0000-00-00 00:00:00
For this year’s top companies, quality is everyone’s responsibility. This year’s Quality Leadership 100 runs the gamut from manufacturers in the automotive industry to the aerospace industry to the defense and science industries and just about every industry in between. Those involved in quality know it is not someone else’s responsibility—quality is everyone’s responsibility. This is evident in this year’s top company, Brembo North America (Homer, MI). According to Dan Sandberg, president and CEO of Brembo North America, all 400 employees are dedicated to quality. “We have a very, very strong dedication to quality. We make a safety component, so in order to do that, you have to have the entire company really focused on quality.” For some companies, scrap and rework, which adds to the cost of a product, is not an option. “Our mission statement is basically do it right the first time and do it on time at a competitive price,” says Mike Trimble, vice president of operations at Heat Treating Inc. (Springfield, OH), this year’s number five company. “That lays out everything we aim for in our quality levels. We can [supply our products] on time because we don’t have to rework a product. We can maintain a competitive process for the same reason.” It is this type of dedication that drives the companies in this year’s Quality Leadership 100. SURVEY CRITERIA More than 400 manufacturers participating in the Quality Leadership 100 were surveyed on criteria such as scrap and rework as a percentage of sales, warranty costs as a percentage of sales, rejected parts per million shipped and contribution of quality to profitability and shareholder value. Companies also were evaluated based on the number of quality programs in place; registration to various standards; percentage of employees dedicated to quality responsibilities; average number of hours monthly that employees receive quality training; and the role quality professionals play in the acquisition of test, measurement and inspection tools, software and services. Brembo North America Homer, MI, location When you are manufacturing a safety component, such as the brakes on a car, quality is a matter of life and death. After all, brake failure can be a terrifying and life-threatening occurrence. That is why Brembo North America (Plymouth, MI) takes their job seriously. And while their products are meant to slow us down, there has been none of that for the company as they race up in the leadership ranks from 6th last year to top place this year. In 2007, Brembo purchased the brakes operation of Hayes Lemmertz and those plants were converted to the Brembo quality system over the years. With 4,900 employees on a global scale, and 400 employees here in the states, Brembo has been in business for half a decade. According to Dan Sandberg, president and CEO of Brembo North America, all 400 employees are dedicated to quality. “We have a very, very strong dedication to quality. We make a safety component, so in order to do that, you have to have the entire company really focused on quality. In regards to people who are directly quality type people, I would say upwards of 10% to 12% of the workforce.” The company is TS 16949 certified and its Homer, MI, plant was one of the first 100 facilities in the country to receive TS 16949 certification. Sandberg adds that the company is an early adopter of most quality certifi cations. “The quality people that we have are not only trained in visual inspection, but part of the success that we have on the quality side is that we use a lot of automation to detect defects and to do the measurement involved,” says Sandberg. “Most of the products that we have and sell are 100% inspected; in other words, we are not using capability studies to determine if we are within range, or typically any of the key measuring statistics that we have to take on the parts themselves. Those specifications are done 100% with end-of-the-line gaging. That is important and a must with a safety component.” The company is a supplier to leading automakers General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, BMW, Mercedes, Nissan, Mazda and Volkswagen and has been in North America since 1988. Their products also are used in motorsports and road racing. For more information, visit www.brembo.com/US. Thermo Fisher Scientific Portsmouth, NH Thermo Fisher Scientific (Waltham, MA) prides itself as being one of the top leaders in science. According to the company, they enable their customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer by providing analytical instruments, equipment, reagents and consumables, software and services for research, analysis, discovery and diagnostics. Formed in 2006 as a result of a merger between Thermo Electron Corp. and Fisher Scientific International Inc., Thermo Fisher Scientific is a publically traded company with 35,000 employees in 40 countries with annual revenue of $10 billion. This Fortune 500 company has a vast portfolio of solutions geared toward laboratory research and analysis, healthcare and clinical science, and manufacturing and the field. They create value for their key stakeholders through two premier brands, Thermo Scientific and Fisher Scientific, which offer a unique combination of continuous technology development and the most convenient purchasing options. All Thermo Fisher facilities worldwide are ISO 14001 certified. According to the company’s mission statement, they fulfill their mission by working every day in accordance with their values, which they call the “4 I’s”—integrity, intensity, innovation and involvement. For more information, visit www.thermofisher.com. Pratt & Whitney, a United Technologies Corp. company Columbus, GA, location Pratt & Whitney is one of the most well-known American aircraft engine manufacturers of products used in both civil and military aircraft. Although the company is headquartered in East Hartford, CT, its Georgia Forging Business located in Columbus, GA, has especially shone in this year’s Quality Leadership 100. The plant, which comprises the company’s forging business, implemented a quality improvement system called Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) in 1997. Employees at the plant worked together to achieve gold status through the 12-step ACE tool process in February 2010, a feat Quality Engineer James Billhimer is particularly proud of. “Implementing the ACE philosophy across our business unit has been our biggest step forward,” Billhimer says. “It’s definitely been the biggest single thing to improve quality and to satisfy our customers.” ACE incorporates a set of tools that helps the organization spot process improvement opportunities, resolve problems and help with decision making processes. It is put into practice on the micro level; employees are trained to execute the standard processes across the company. Through a datadriven process, employees and Pratt & Whitney as a whole progressed through the qualifying, bronze, silver and gold levels of ACE. When the staff implemented the tools in 1997, they were on a “big learning curve,” Billhimer explains. “We divided our manufacturing business unit into seven cells, and each cell had to meet qualifications for each of the four steps—qualifying, bronze, silver and gold. Eventually, after all seven cells reached the gold level, we went for site gold. I would say that was our most proud company moment.” Quality clinic process charting is a definitive ACE tool, Billhimer says. “It uses the methodology of eliminating anything that impedes the flow of material or information along its intended path—or what we call turnbacks,” he explains. “Anything that’s a turnback is an inefficiency. We continuously take more data month after month to eliminate turnbacks. We go along the path to get rid of waste and inefficiencies and the process flows much better.” The result of such a commitment to quality is a loyal clientele, Billhimer says. “The ACE is Georgia Forging’s way of doing business to achieve that number one market share and delight our customers,” he says. For more information, visit www.pw.utc.com. JKM Manufacturing Eufaula, AL JKM Manufacturing Inc. has made a name for itself as a provider of precision products for defense, communications and aerospace industries, supplying everyone from the Department of Defense to NASA with its parts. Since 1997, it has built products used on guided missiles, military aircraft, flight simulators, helicopters, tanks, industrial robots and sonar test equipment. JKM upholds the military certification DoD MIL-I-45208A. JKM’s products are designed to be used in harsh environments, so their reliability is of the utmost importance. To ensure their consistency, their products undergo stringent environmental and electrical testing, and JKM says they are held to the highest available standards in the United States. JKM does not understate the demands its products undergo, and therefore holds them to a strict quality standard. “Our products range from the very simple to the very complex,” the company states. “Every step of the way, attention to detail and high regard to quality and reliability are part of our welldocumented military quality control system. “Whether providing design and development, build-toprint, prototype-to-production, producibility analysis or production transition capabilities, JKM’s experts ensure that our customers consistently receive high-quality products made in the most cost-effective and efficient manner.” The manufacturers’ customers include General Dynamics, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Honeywell Defense, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, L-3 Communications, the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and Defense Logistics Agency. Its electro-mechanical assemblies are used in aircraft, tanks, armored vehicles, helicopters, missiles, gun systems, flight simulators, outdoor electric signs, industrial robots, air conditioning units, sonar test equipment, trucks, ships, boats and other military and aerospace applications. The company staffs 25 people at its 22,000-square-foot, vertically integrated production facility. It employs skilled staff, the company says, who have a range of skills—from high-volume commodity manufacturing to high-tech systems integration. It handles materials acquisition, kitting, inventory control, multilevel production testing, distribution and shipping. JKM says its engineering staff tirelessly pursues advancements in manufacturing technology and processes to preserve quality. For more information, visit www.jkm-mfg.com. Heat Treating Inc. Springfield, OH Heat Treating Inc. does not take its customer relationships lightly. Established in 1959, the Springfield, OH-based metallurgical services supplier holds its staff to a rigorous standard to ensure consistent levels of quality throughout its operations and maintain strong client-relationships in the process. “Our mission statement is basically do it right the first time and do it on time at a competitive price,” says Vice President of Operations Mike Trimble. “That lays out everything we aim for in our quality levels. We can [supply our products] on time because we don’t have to rework a product. We can maintain a competitive process for the same reason.” Trimble, who has been with the company for 37 years, is proud of its thorough employee training program. The company’s Department of Laborcertified heat treat apprenticeship training program is one of only a few in the country that provides students with on-the-job training in addition to their class work, resulting in a journeyman’s license. Such investment in staff is reflected in the company’s qualifications—it upholds ISO 9001 and ISO TS 16949 certifications, and maintains an ASQ-certified engineer on staff. In addition to its quality certifications, Trimble says the company’s biggest secret to success lies in continuously seeking customer feedback. “We started to work more with customers,” he explains. “It used to be that when you’d get a job in the door that you’ve never seen before, you had to figure out how to do it and get it to a customer as soon as possible—and do right. Now, we contact customers beforehand. They’ll send us prints so we can review them and get their thoughts on the best way to manufacture a part. So, our biggest continuous improvement technique is to actually maintain constant contact with our customers.” Heat Treating’s staff also stays educated through online seminars and training from the Metal Treating Institute, a loosely affiliated group of heat treaters around the world. “We go through lessons and take tests, and these grades are kept and become part of our training records,” Trimble notes. This constant education process is one of the more positive developments the industry has seen over the years, he says. “Old folks like me will go out and show a [staff member] how to do something, and now [the employee] asks ‘why’? Back when I started, they said, ‘You do this, this way and that’s it.’ Now, young people don’t accept that—they want to know why. It keeps me on my toes.” For more information, visit www.heattreatinginc.com.
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