Now that we are entering the ice age again, I thought I should point out a positive, beer is always good ice cold, and we are going to tour the Point Brewery this month in Stevens Point, so please plan on attending. The date will be different than the normal second Monday of the month as we are doing this in cooperation with our partners from Central Wisconsin, who originally was a part of our section. So, lets all get out and support them as well as take the tour of one of Wisconsin’s finest manufacturers!
This month the Quality Progress magazine seemed to focus a lot on the aspect of supplier quality. I find that very interesting on a personal level because that is the area of my responsibility in my day job at Mercury Marine. Supplier quality is an area of great importance in all areas of manufacturing, and I can say that with some confidence because of my current position and many years of experience in both supplier quality and quality systems development and management. To me, however, I still am seeing a disparity between areas within organizations. Reawakening my own awareness to Dr. W. Edwards Deming and his Principles for Transformation have made me step back and look at where we are today, in respect to manufacturing in the United States. For example, you can see some progress in the automotive industry, taking Ford Motor Company as one of those examples. They have gone through some difficult times, downsized their operations, shed some lagging brands, improved quality and are now competing well against the Japanese and other auto makers who have been traditionally ahead of them in the market place both in customer satisfaction as ranked by firms such as JD Power & Associates as well as the perception of the public. However, looking back at some of the teachings of Dr. Deming and the speaking events he has held during my career lifetime (yea, I know, showing my age) it really is not a surprise. For example, Deming claimed back in the 1980’s that it would take the US automakers probably 30 years to catch up. Quick math shows that he was exactly right. However have they really caught up, or, have the leaders slipped a little? When you take into consideration the recent spills in quality as experienced by Toyota, and just in the past several weeks, Ford was caught in one as well on their most popular vehicle, the F-150 truck, then it makes you wonder, how are they doing on maintaining? Getting systems implemented is difficult enough, keeping them on the leading edge is even more difficult, and implementing continuous improvement, that, my friends is 3rd base in my opinion. You (your company and implementation plan) still need to get past 3rd base and across home plate to score. Additionally, you need to keep scoring to stay ahead of the competition.
Again, its only my humble opinion, but it still seems to me the focus in industry in the US is still more on cost, not quality. Did not Dr. Deming and all the other guru’s of quality teach us that if you take care of quality, through employee involvement and participation, then cost would also be well controlled? I know I am changing subject slightly, but stick with me, it all makes sense in the end. Companies are still running to find the lowest cost labor. I just read in Bloomberg where factories making consumer goods that moved to China are now moving to Vietnam and India. I think we all saw that coming, and now with new worries about inflation in the US as the government grapples with the issue of debt and managing our credit rating, the price of oil and gas, and fears of additional struggles in the Middle East and Africa, can we be double dipping into something we don’t want or need again? Hopefully not! All righty then, Wildner, what does all this have to do with Deming & the weather in Wisconsin? Quality my friends. It still is all about quality. Quality of the product you produce, the service you provide, of the elected officials in office, and yes, of the weather in Wisconsin. It is, after all, connected to the entire process, it is all related. So keep the faith, do the right thing and continue to be an advocate for quality.
Dave Wildner: Winnebago Section Chair