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Author Archives: Florent Kuiper

Choose the Right QHSE Platform for Your Business

When you decide to move your QHSE management system to an online platform, there are quite a number of important points to think about. Implementing such a platform introduces many changes in the company which should be managed properly. However there are several actions you can take beforehand to get a better end result.

Internal Changes Required

Every new platform requires the company to change their way of working. The changes can be small or big, regardless there are changes. To make the transition as smooth as possible, it is crucial to check if the company is ready to change. Talk with people and see if they are open to improving the company’s process. This doesn’t mean you should 100% agree with them, but give them some level of influence, as there are always people who simply reject any new initiative. Involving employees will increase the support for the decision. which will greatly benefit the speed of adoption when the decision has been made to implement the platform.

Way of Working

Every company has certain ways of working that are entrances into the operation. Some are deliberately created, like compliance checks, while others emerged organically. Whether the processes are manual or completely automated, processes will follow each other. A new system will have an impact on the process flow within the company. However, during selection of the platform, make sure there are enough customization options to keep parts of the process as they are right now. A significant number of solutions force companies to work according to a certain way, which seems great until it doesn’t. Processes might need to be changed or improved when the platform doesn’t allow for these changes, so you will end up with lots of resistance from the employees.

User Friendliness

Ease of use is a key component in the adaption of the platform. Of course the platform should be feature-rich, but mainly focused on the key users. The regular user only gets confused when there are a lot of bells and whistles he or she can click on and play with. Elaborate access management should be implemented to give you some great options to tailor the platform based on the roles of the employees.

Real Value

The value created by the platform is an important factor. The value can be quantified by means of a business case to calculate some ROI on the investment. However, the new platform will also give the company possibilities it didn’t have in the past. Calculating the ROI on these options is next to impossible. The real value will always be a combination of the real ROI and the new possibilities for the company.

 

Keep in mind! Pick a platform that increases the change of adaptation by the company when you really want to generate more data in order to improve the processes.

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Essential Skills Every Quality and Safety Manager Needs

The role of a Quality and Safety manager is changing significantly due to all kinds of technological enhancements. Regardless of these innovations, there is still the interpersonal skills that are required to be a great Quality and Safety manager. The role itself isn’t easy, you need to be likable in order to get information from people, but also be strict at the right time. Employees need to fill in the forms and inspections for you to get the information needed. On the other hand, you need to be strict when someone makes a mess. That last point makes the job so hard. Many Quality and Safety managers are seen as the police of the organization, which they shouldn’t be.

Resistance to Change

As a Quality and Safety professional, you are mostly looking for things to improve. This could be to minimize risks, run processes more efficiently or make them less hazardous. You are continuously looking to change things. This is the root of some of the internal struggles. Most people don’t want to change. They think the company is running fine the way it does. You on the other end are continuously looking for things to improve, it is even embedded in the PDCA cycle. This huge gap in points of view can make it very hard to get anything done. In order to overcome this struggle, try not to push too many changes in a very short time. You might distance the team too much which makes it hard to get them to support you during future changes.

Don’t Police

Still, a lot of Quality and Safety managers are seen as the police agent of the office. They correct people when they are wrong and they use internal audits to check if you stay in line. This is far from the truth but this perception still exists in a large number of companies. It is important to get this picture out of people’s mind. Never point fingers and don’t blame them. When something goes wrong look at how the processes can be changed to avoid it in the future. Just don’t blame the people. Except when they do not only break a process but also the law, then it is the people’s problem.

Use Examples

Especially in safety, visual examples why changes are required work great. It is crucial everybody goes home the same way they arrived in the morning. Sometimes changes are required to reach this goal. These changes might make some activities more time consuming due to the safety preparation. Explaining why these activities are so important helps a lot, showing a picture of how it will help them is key. It isn’t all that easy but keep explaining this to people.

Feedback

Give people feedback when they help out. When they take their time to fill in a form or report an incident, make sure you give them feedback of the actions. This direct feedback keeps people engaged and involved. They see how the company takes actions when the employees report something.  Automating the feedback reduces a lot of time.

Conclusion

You don’t have to be friends with everybody, but it is critical to be among the people and have their respect. This is the only way they will share knowledge with you and listen to you. In the end, you cannot change anything on your own you need the employees on your side to reach these goals.

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Safety Management in a Thriving Economy

The economy is on a rise again and companies are ramping up production. A lot of businesses are running a tight schedule and projects need to be completed as soon as possible. This environment is great for business but not necessarily for the safety perception. During these times it is crucial the safety officers keep safety as top priority at the workplace. To prevent safety becoming the victim of tight schedules, we have pointed out some topics to take into consideration.

Tightly Planned Project

As a safety officer, it is always good to have a close connection and understanding of the ongoing projects and their status. People are inclined to work as hard as possible to finish a project on time, even at the expensive of their own safety. The tight schedule can put so much pressure on people that they start to make a consensus on safety. Being present at the worksite helps to remind the employees of the importance of safety. You will personally be the trigger for them. Furthermore, it allows you to keep track of the safety culture and correct workers when they take irresponsible risks. Of course you cannot do this on your own, so make sure project managers and site managers are properly trained.

Continue Training

The tight planning reduces time for things like safety training and awareness programs. These techniques are crucial to maintaining a healthy safety culture. Make sure the training time isn’t reduced due to time constraints. Yes, top management will put the customer first, but ensure that it doesn’t happen at the expense of safety. It is crucial for the health of the workers but also the organization that people feel safe and secure while they do their job. Come up with measuring tools that show how important the training is. These can be safety culture perception or more hard figures like number incidents and their costs to handle them.

Reduce Barriers

Enable employees to easily file incidents and unsafe situations. It is crucial employees have the right tools to provide you with the necessary information to plan your actions. This information is a great input for things like:

  • Creating training plans.
  • Improving certain work instructions.
  • Planning specific toolbox meetings.

Positive Note

Due to the strong economic times a lot of companies have budgets available for topics like safety. Safety officers will notice it gets easier to get budget approvals. Make sure you leverage these great times wisely. In order to prove to top management that money was well spent, make sure you have proof. Show that the safety awareness went up, or that major incidents went down, or whatever metric you use. Just make sure you have data to back up the expenses. This will make approvals in the future a lot easier.

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Effective Technique to Prioritize Your Actionlist

Setting priority on pending actions is more of an art than a science. It is a continuous struggle to divide the resources available across the actions pending, and every company has to deal with this. We are continuously changing priorities on certain actions based on the changes in the landscape.

There are a couple of techniques you can use to prioritize the different tasks, which we will discuss in this post. However, it is very important that when you have made the decision to put the resources behind certain actions, that you keep them there. Otherwise, you might end up with a lot of unfinished tasks, and this could be disastrous.

Low Hanging Fruit (High Impact/ Short Period)

These are the actions that require relatively limited time but give you some good results. They are the no-brainers in your actions list and easy to finish. Make sure you put these high on the priority list because they give you immediate results. These actions are very important to improve the quality and safety awareness in the company because employees will also notice the changes.

Strategic Actions (High Impact/ Long Period)

These are the actions that require a lot of resources but deliver the company great results. Due to the lengthy process, employees don’t see the results quickly. It can even be the case that improvements occur gradually and employees don’t even notice them at all. However, they are crucial for the long-term strategy of the company. Think about awareness progress for safety.

(Low Impact / Short Period)

When there are still resources available, you could make a decision to work on these actions. Due to their short time period, it is relatively easy to finish them but their impact is pretty low as well.

Then we are left with the Low Impact / Long period type of actions. These are mostly not worthy enough to put any resources in. However, there could be changes in the environment that change the urgency of these actions. That is why it is important to keep them in mind.

Using this technique, you should be able to prioritize the tasks that need completing in order of the time they will take and the impact they will have. Then you can spread the resources among them to ensure the company is progressing and improving in the best way possible.

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The Key Changes in NEN-EN 1090-2:2018

If you haven’t heard of this standard yet, the BS EN 1090 2:2018 is an international standard that applies throughout Europe. This standard contains the guidelines and technical requirements for the construction of steel (stainless steel) and aluminum.

The latest version of this standard will be introduced on the 1st of January 2019. This new version contains a number of important changes that will have an impact on the fabrication of steel structures. To give you a good insight, we have made a summary of the most important points of this new standard:

1. Removal of Default ‘EXC 2’

‘EXC 2’ has been removed as the requirements for the selection of execution class are now included in BS EN 1993-1-1: 2005 / A1: 2014, Annex C.

2. Thick Coating

New guidance on the determination of the loss of preload from thick coatings on contact surfaces in preloaded connections.

3. Introduction of ‘Weld Inspection Classes’

New guidance on the selection of ‘weld inspection classes’ has been included. This is where project specific % for NDT may be considered.

4. Thermal Cutting Activity

New guidance has been included for checking the capability of thermal cutting processes.

5. Reinforcing Steel

Rebar is now included.

6. 1090-4

For requirements regarding the thin gauge, these have been removed from this part of the series, and have been moved to 1090-4.

7. Normative Annex J

The ‘’Use of compressible washer-type direct tension indicators’’ has been removed.

Keep Meeting the Requirements

The standard is always under review by technical experts to bring it up-to-date and in line with current new industry practices. That’s why I recommend to always have a structured management system in place, in which it can be demonstrated that the requested quality is achieved.

To meet these requirements, Qooling has developed a welding (QMS) system in which the transition to new standards can be done smoothly, with no problems at all. Within the online solution you have all the necessary tools at your disposal. Keep track of your administration by digitizing internal documents. Easily demonstrate that requested quality is being achieved, and a lot of other handy features. Just visit the welding page or contact us and I will tell you all about it!

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Digitalise your Weld Management

The administration related to Weld Management has been increased significantly and is getting more complicated with new standards and changing laws. Every weld produced needs to be traceable for as long as the structure is used. Managing all this information is a hell of a job. For every weld, a significant amount of information needs to be filed. Think about the material certificates, the welder and the NDT report. This information should be organized, stored and easily retrieved when some authority asks for it.

Old School

A significant amount of companies handle weld traceability with a combination of Word and Excel files. There is nothing wrong with this technique, it just costs a lot of time and is prone to mistakes. The files are printed and left somewhere in the shop, and the information is added by pencil. The manually written data then needs to be typed into a digital Excel file, which holds all the information for the weld and the weld register. A big problem is that not all the necessary information is available to the people in the shop. If the information is available, it is often outdated and unusable. Next to the Excel file, a lot of data is stored in other places such as drawings, material certificates and welding procedures. When the dossier needs to be created at the end of the project, all of this information needs to be gathered from every corner of the office or shop and compiled. Even at this stage, a lot of information is missing which costs a lot of time and duplicated activities just for the sake of reporting.

Digital Age

Having all the information at the fingertips on a tablet will of course decrease the overall administration of the welds. Besides the time saved, it also reduces the number of errors in the data. The information will be created exactly at the point when the actions have taken place. The material certificates will be linked to the weld right when the weld has been created by the administration. Then when the welder is done the administration is updated right away. Every person involved in the process has the latest and most up-to-date information which prevents duplicated activities and increase efficiencies. The time saved is tremendous.

Analyzing

When the data is gathered, the company can really start to analyze the welds. Lead-time of a weld can be monitored quite easily, material ready for welding can be managed and planned, and reworks can be analyzed. The company can start to find relationships in the data, like for example which weld type leads to the highest reworks or whether reworks are going up when the lead time of a weld goes down. Hence, digitalization not only gives companies the chance to introduce efficiencies in the process, it also allows for analysis of the data to improve the process even further.

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A Data Driven Improvement Plan

We have touched upon the importance of data in quality and safety management numerous times. Of course data is important in every aspect of a business, but in quality and safety management it is just a little bit more important than other parts. Why is this? Because of all the standard focus on the continuous improvement abilities of the company. We believe that a good improvement should be based on data. Therefore it is crucial that data is gathered within the operations and in a structured and easy to analyze manner.

Improvement Plans

The improvement plans can be small or big. The most important point is that people always look for methods to improve the way the company operates. When a possible weak link has been found in the company, certain actions need to be taken and measured to see if any improvement has been made. These actions should be tracked by management to make sure the required actions have been taken. The complete improvement plan can just consist of a list of actions, and actually we prefer it not to be a big Word document which most people don’t read anyway. However, if the improvement plan does have a significant impact and requires more, simply create a proper plan but make sure the plan comes with actionable tasks to break it up.

The Start

The data comes mainly at the very beginning of the action plan and at the very end. In order to find a weak link within the company, the best way to back this claim is solid data from within the company. To have this data, proper systems need to be in place to allow employees to provide this data. This can be done with checklists or Non Conformity Reports or any other way. As you probably know by now, a Word document isn’t the best way to gather this information because of the labor required to get the actual information out. When the data has been gathered the analysis allows you to find the weakest link that needs to be fixed. Of course these links might change on a monthly or maybe even weekly basis, so it is important to keep on gathering data.

The Execution

When the problem has been identified all the tasks/actions to fix the problem are delegated. It is important that the responsible managers get assigned certain tasks within their department. It helps for managerial support and prevents the quality department being responsible for everything. They should only guide the different tasks and help when required.

The Results

After all the task are implemented the new results should be studied. Usually it requires a couple of weeks or months to see improvement in the data. Of course this is highly dependent on the amount of data the company generated, but at least a couple of weeks is a good figure. Again gathering the data is crucial in order to see if there has been any improvements after all the actions have been taken. This can be easily done by creating one graph that holds data before and after the improvement plan.

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Gap Analysis – Close the Gaps in Your Business

In the previous article (Part 1), we revealed the importance of setting up a skilled team for the execution of a gap analysis. During ‘’Part 2’’ we will tell you how to perform a successfully Gap Analysis, so you can be sure to include all the necessary steps.

1. Analyze Your Current Situation

During this step it is important to define your current situation. That may sound overwhelming, so I recommend that you start collecting data from your current QMS. In this case, a properly structured QMS can save you a lot of valuable time.

In this phase, it is your goal to determine which quality management processes your company already has, and where there is room for improvement before you start implementing new processes. Mapping out the different processes and how they work will give this insight.

2. Identify the Ideal Future

Now a clear picture of the current situation is created, it’s time to think about what needs to be done to meet the new requirements and goals. This new future can be based upon the requirements of customers, new legislation or maybe some new international standards the company wants to comply with. Make sure you have a good overview of the requirements for this new future.

When this overview is clear, you should place it next to your current system. A great approach is simply to list all the requirements and how you comply with them based on your current system. When you have gone through every requirement, you are ready to fill in the gaps that show up of the different points you don’t comply with.

3. Fill the Gap

Once all steps have been completed, a detailed Gap Analysis Report can be created. This report lists all the points the organization doesn’t comply with. After all the gaps have been identified, a structured action plan can be created. The different tasks can be assigned to different people in order to reach compliance. When all actions are finished, an additional check is required to see if all the gaps are now filled. This can simply be performed by going through step 3 but this time with all the new measures in place.

With the online solution of Qooling you can easily manage your action plan by displaying important tasks and the ability to assign tasks to the responsible person in the organization.

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The QHSE Manager’s role in a Fast-Changing World

The QHSE Manager job is slowly starting to change. Of course the core of the job is still the same, making sure Quality and Safety is at the highest level possible. However, with new technology coming in more and more, the QHSE manager needs to become some kind of a data analyst to find “real” root causes. This changes the role of the QHSE manager quite significantly.

The Past

As a QHSE manager, you are the jack of all trades when it comes to everything related to Quality and Safety. Yes, you do have people helping you such as QHSE officers or maybe even specialists per field of expertise. Still, in the end, you are the one that is managing everything.

In order to perform this role properly, you need to be good with people. To do this you need to have great communication skills to make sure you communicate your results in an appropriate manner to higher management. On top of this, you need to have some serious knowledge of how standards and legislations work to do the job. Of course this doesn’t cover everything, but for the most part these skills are very important for a good QHSE manager.

The Situation

With all the new technologies such as QHSE management platforms and IoT, QHSE managers can really dive into why certain issues happened. Data can come from multiple possible sources: internal processes, machines, suppliers, customers. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of possible data sources that can be leveraged by the QHSE managers. Some are just required for staying compliant, while other are a main input for process improvement. Analyzing the data and acting upon the results will benefit the company significantly.

The Future Role

This newly data-overflowing world requires new skills of the QHSE managers. Luckily, quite a few QHSE managers have some form of training in Lean Six Sigma and therefore have affiliation with data and how to interpret it. Though this basic level is a good start, these new technologies are bringing a completely different dimension to analyzing data because of the vast amount of it.

The QHSE of the future doesn’t have to become a full blown data analyst, but (s)he should understand how data can help. The QHSE manager has an advantage, namely his/her experience. It gets more important to think about what kind of causality you are investigating and show if it is there. This expertise of the QHSE manager of the future is crucial to come up with the best relations to analyze. It is the practical knowledge combined with the ability to analyze the data that will lead to the best results. For the analyzing part you can use all kinds of solutions, but it is the ability to apply the data that is the most important aspect.

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Gap Analysis – Creating a team

Gap Analysis is a technique companies use to compare their current performance with potential performance. For example, their current practices compared to an international standard such as ISO9001, AS9001, ISO14001, ISO13485 or customer requirements. A well-executed gap analysis can help you improve quality, business efficiency and fulfil the customer needs by allowing you to pinpoint ‘’gaps’’ within your company. It outlines what areas of your current Quality System needs improvement to meet the requirements. Therefore, you need to clearly define and analyze these ‘’gaps’’ so you can set-up an action plan to move the organization to a future state and fill the gaps in performance.

So where do you start? If you’re wondering this, I advise you to follow the next steps to move your company to a future state.

1.1 Identify

The first step to creating a successful gap analysis is to identify one or more employees to perform it. In this process, it is crucial to choose the right people to fulfill the tasks. Think of quality managers or other employees who have experience with quality management systems, auditing systems or the requirements of the standard/customers. The team must be familiar with the challenges and opportunities your company faces during this analysis. Also good communication skills are required to make sure the results are communicated properly throughout the organization. If your team has not been trained on the requirements, be sure to provide proper training before performing the gap analysis.

1.2 Consultancy

You may also want to consider having assistance from a consultant. You may decide to hire a consultant for several reasons. However, knowledge of the requirements is not the primary reason organizations tell us they have chosen to utilize consultants to upgrade their Quality System. The people in your organization have their own daily responsibilities. Therefore, additional work can have consequences for the quality that they deliver. Also, a fresh pair of outside eyes can have refreshing results. In this case, a consultant comes in handy, so that your employees can continue to focus on what they are really good at and use their valuable time productively. If the requirements are highly technical or require a specialist, we always recommend to find a professional with experience in that particular field.

1.3 Gap Analysis Checklist

A commonly used tool for the gap analysis is the gap analysis checklist. This is a checklist of the requirements in the standard, written in a question-based format. The implementation team will use this list to compare your current management system with the requirements of the standard. This will provide your team with the right information. They will know which documents to look for to compare your management system with the standard.

Next week we will discuss the following steps, and dive deeper into the important elements needed to successfully perform a gap analysis. Don’t forget to keep up-to-date with the latest quality and safety news and subscribe to our blog! Until next week!

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