Stuart Injection Molding Company (SIMC) is a small business
that specializes in custom plastic molding for many different industries,
including appliances and various consumer products such as toys. Adele Stuart,
daughter of the company’s founder and current CEO wishes to expand into the
automotive sector. However, she realizes that to do so will require more
formalized systems and eventually ISO 9000 registration. Although many basic
procedures for assuring quality are in place, most have been conducted
informally, and the company never compiled a formal quality manual that
documents the system and outlines specific responsibilities for managers and
workers. Recognizing the lack of a manual as a major deficiency, they called
you in as a consultant to help. After spending some time in the plant talking
with many employees, you jotted down several notes and observations:
• The plant
manager (PM) is responsible for ensuring the success of the quality management
system by providing the necessary resources and reviewing system performance.
However, SIMC has a quality assurance (QA) department that is responsible for
the majority of implementation issues, such as maintaining measuring and test
equipment, verifying process capability, performing inspection, selecting
methods for monitoring process performance, and auditing the system.
functional departments recognize their responsibility for quality planning and
producing high-quality products. For example, the marketing and sales
department conducts market research to understand customer needs and handles
customer complaints; the project engineering department performs design
reviews; the manufacturing department conducts in-process inspection for the
purpose of maintaining control and coordinates continuous improvement
processes. Maintenance, supplier relations, receiving, and human resources
departments support these functions.
products are custom-designed with the customer. When a new job is contracted, a
cross-functional team is selected that includes members from project
engineering, quality assurance, manufacturing, and sales. This team develops
all the specifications to ensure that design meets customer requirements and
can be made according to these requirements, selects materials and process
tolerances, determines production routings and inspection plans, develops a
production control plan and measurement system, and monitors a trial production
run. The customer must approve all design changes.
• The company uses a variety of
contemporary tools to simplify and optimize the product while also focusing on
reducing production cost and waste. These tools
include quality function deployment, geometric dimensioning and
tolerancing, design for manufacturing and assembly, value engineering, design
of experiments, failure mode and effects analysis, and cost/performance/risk
is routine during the production process. QA lab personnel perform all phases
of inspection and testing. Production operators use a “first-piece” inspection
process to validate the start-up for a new product. Receiving inspection is
performed on material, purchased parts, and subassemblies used in processing,
manufacturing, and assembly. Operators also perform in-process inspections
during production and final inspection on finished products. When contractually
required, statistical process control techniques are used to ensure control of
key process characteristics. Gauging instruction sheets are maintained by QA
for at least one year.
products are labeled with a “Do Not Use” tag and kept from being shipped. This
tag describes the nonconformance, documents the disposition decision, and
records the reinspection results. If they are repaired or reworked, they are
reinspected. Products that do not fully comply with specific requirements are
not shipped without customer authorization. When nonconformities are detected,
a cross-functional team investigates them and corrective actions are initiated
to prevent their recurrence.
• SIMC has a continuous improvement philosophy that pervades the
entire organization. Processes are improved beyond minimum requirements when
further improvements benefit customers. Quality performance and productivity
are continuously monitored to identify opportunities for improvement. Everyone
in the organization is encouraged to come forward with ideas for improving
products, processes, systems, and productivity within the working environment.
Some examples of opportunities for quality and productivity improvement are the
reduction of cycle times, less scrap, rework and repair rates, less unscheduled
machine downtime, and process performance variation.
Based on this information, what would you recommend to the company?
Specifically on their process management activities, note any additional
information that you might need
thank our former students Nick Dattilo, Brian Kessler at Woodcraft Pattern
Works, Inc., and Tameka Flowers, on whose research this case is based.