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Author Archives: Florent Kuiper

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 If the information is available, it is often outdated and unusable.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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The importance of Data in Safety Management

Most of you know the value of data in your safety management system. However, a lot of safety management systems mainly show the number of incidents or days without injuries. Yes, they are great for marketing and showing off how great the company is doing. These KPI’s don’t add much for the company though. In order to really start adding value to the company, it is important to analyze the data and find out where important trends are.

Gather the Data

Getting incident data can often be hard to accomplish. Employees don’t always have the right forms at their fingertips, and simply forget about it when they have. Lowering the barrier to file an incident helps a lot to gather sufficient data, even to perform some kind of analysis. Mobile Apps are the way to go when it comes to lowering the barriers to file an incident. The employee just needs to take a picture or short video of what happened and the important data is gathered. Then the safety team can start to work on the case.

Individual Cases

Not a single safety incident is the same. Some require just a couple of hours to resolve, while others might take months or even years, depending on the severity of the injury. Handling every single case thoroughly is pretty important. It is even more important to handle certain questions in a structured manner so it is easy to compare results and find trends. We discuss this more thoroughly in our post on NC reports.

Call for Help

During the investigation of the case, it is important to ask knowledgeable people to help you find the correct information. As the safety manager you won’t necessarily have all the information at your fingertips. Make sure you involve different people from different departments to ensure you find the right information. A nice example is the financial impact, the finance department has a much better insight in the costs of an employee per hour.

Also make sure you don’t do everything, assign certain tasks to responsible people. This way you keep them involved and you don’t have to take on everything–which isn’t feasible anyway. In order to stay in control of all the tasks it is useful to check for platforms to help you in this manner. They allow you to get great insight on how the different tasks progress.

Combine the Data

When all the data is filled in and you have closed a couple dozen cases, you can start to analyze the data. The analysis is crucial to finding common denominators on why certain incidents happen. Finding out why these incidents happened is vital in starting improvement plans. These trends might not be as sexy as the KPI numbers without injuries, but they do add a lot more value. Actually providing more training to employees when that is shown as lacking behind helps the company improve and therefore improves the complete company.

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How to Use Kaizen to Continuously Improve Your Business

Kaizen, or Kai Zen, is Japanese and stands for ‘continuous improvement’. This means: How can we improve / adjust our products and / or services so that the customer is satisfied and we stay ahead of the competition? Some of such changes require great efforts; which means months of hard work and dedication. But often undervalued is ‘Kaizen’ or the long-term approach to improving systems through small, sustained changes in processes in order to improve efficiency and quality.  

The Six Stages of Kaizen

Kaizen has six steps in the continuous improvement process. The focus is on mapping out waste, inflexibility and uncertainties within the process. A kaizen with the following six clear steps ensures lasting results and motivated employees.

1. Identify

Map out the process, look for information in flowcharts and other work instructions. Make sure to describe your goal as clearly as possible, so that misunderstandings can be prevented. After that ensure that your employees are well trained in the process. 

2. Measure

Collect data by looking at the management system. A well organized management system like Qooling can ensure that data can be easily retrieved, so you can effortlessly see what’s going on in your organization at any time. 

3. Analyze

Analyze the collected data by using the 5 Why & 2 How model. This tool forces you to really think about what went wrong and how to improve it. Learn more about this methodology here. 

4. Innovate

Search for new, better ways to do the same work or achieve the same results. Look for smarter, more efficient routes to get to the same goal that boosts productivity.

5. Standardize

After you have improved your process successfully, make sure that the changes are documented and made part of the clearly defined process, so that everyone using the process can benefit. 

6. Repeat

The circle of continuous improvement states that after completing the steps, you then repeat the cycle by making another small improvement. 

The Six-Step Problem-Solving Process is an easy approach to dealing with issues and problems that you face. It is a systematic way to approach a problem with clearly defined steps so that an individual or team always have a clear grip on the process. 

Need help? 

Wondering how Qooling can help with successfully implementing kaizen? Contact us for a free consultation with one of our experts. 

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How to Perform a Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA) in 10 Easy Steps

History of the FMEA

The FMEA analysis is an common used Lean Six Sigma tool. In the past, the FMEA method was initially used by NASA in aerospace and for high-risk technologies. Since the 1980s, the tool has also been used in the automotive industry for Quality improvement. Nowadays the FMEA is a widely used tool for risk assessment & evaluation mainly in the manufacturing industry.

What is FMEA?

The Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) is a structured approach for analyzing potential reliability problems at the start of the development cycle. The tool examines what can be done in the product process to ensure that appropriate measures can be taken to eliminate errors and prevent or reduce their impact. The 10 steps of the FMEA process are explained in a simple way below:

STEP 1: Review the Process

It is important to review the processes that are followed within the company. These processes can be stored in documents or maybe you make use of a dedicated solution for this such as Qooling. Then make a list of each process component in an FMEA table. Advanced QMS solutions allow you to connect the procedure directly to the FMEA table.

STEP 2: Brainstorm potential failures modes

Here you investigate what can go wrong. Therefore, study existing documentation and data which you summed up in the previous step. Identify all the ways in which the process can fail for each component. For example with Qooling you can easily assign the process to every potential failure mode.

STEP 3: List potential effects of each failures

Consider the possible failures and the effect these errors would have on the final product or the next steps in the process. It is important to think thoroughly about the potential effects because this allows you to develop some great solutions to prevent it from happening.

STEP 4: Assign a Severity Ranking for each failure mode

Give a ranking score for each effect. For example, a frequently used ranking is that 1 is not serious at all and 10 is extremely serious.

STEP 5: Assign Occurrence Ranking for each failure mode

Estimate the probability of occurrence of the cause. Also use a scale from 1 to 10 to  keep a clear picture of the severity of the causes. Where 10 signifies high frequency and 1 signifies low frequency.

STEP 6: Assign deception ranking for each failures mode or effect

What are the chances the failure will be detected prior to it occuring. Here a score of 1 would mean we have excellent control and 10 would mean we have no control or extremely weak control.

STEP 7: Calculate the RPN (Risk Priority Number) for each effect

To decide where to focus first, multiply the Severity, Occurrence and Detection scores together to find the RPN value.

STEP 8: Develop the action plan

During this step, you must prioritize which failures are processed first on the basis of the RPN scores.

STEP 9: Take action to eliminate or reduce high risk failures modes

Assign new tasks to the responsible person within your organisation. This can be collecting data, changing processes or products, adding or removing functions. A Task Management solutions makes is possible to manage those tasks in clear overviews. The responsible employee and management will receive email notifications whenever important changes are made. This makes it much easier to keep track of the progress.

STEP 10: Calculate the RPN again as the failures modes are reduced or eliminated

It is important to document the changes made to the process. Once the actions are complete, analyze the results. Determine whether the changes have helped and re-score the occurrence and detection. 

Making FMEA Easy

A Quality Management Software can help you understand your business processes so that you can identify problems at an early stage. By means of automated push notifications, the solution keeps you alert of changes in your product / development process. This allows you to quickly intervene and reduce the impact of the error. Qooling has a built-in template for FMEA risk evaluation. Contact us if you want to know more on how to use this.

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A3 Problem Solving Tool

An effective and simple approach for problem solving is Toyota’s famous (lean) A3-approach. This problem solving technique is a good example of how problems can be handled in order to be eliminated efficiently. The A3 lean method can be applied in almost any problematic situation, provided that all the steps in the process are completed.

1.   Define the problem (Plan)

To clearly identify the problem, it is important to investigate the underlying problem. A handy tool for identifying the problem is the Kipling Method (What, Where, Who and How) or the 5 Whys, so that you get deeper and deeper into the problem and its cause. In addition, you can also use an application like Qooling, that makes it easy to report problems as soon as they occur. This will save time and help you quickly identify the cause.

2.   Break down the problem (Plan)

Once you have found the current problem, it’s time to capture and analyze the current situation. Make sure all the information of the problem is known. Try to really get to the root cause of the problem and work out what happened by breaking it down into parts.

3.   Set a target (Plan)

Formulate a clear and achievable goal: When will the problem be solved? What is the result and the effect you want to achieve? By setting clear goals, the change to solve a problem successfully is many times greater than when it is not.

4.   Analyze the root cause (Plan)

Now that you have clearly defined your goal, it is time to carry out a root cause analysis. This will help you reach the underlying cause of the problem. Proper issue management solution will support root cause analysis.

5.   Develop countermeasures (Do)

Countermeasures are your ideas for solving the problem. These can be changes in your business processes that bring you closer to solving the root cause. Make sure you create actions to track progress of this phase. Qooling allows you to easily manage these tasks and track the progress.

6.   Implement countermeasures (Do)

Analyze whether the countermeasure introduced has the intended effect. Make sure you have the end results of the tasks searchable.

7.   Evaluate results and processes (Check)

In far too many situations, the A3 process ends with the implementation of the countermeasures. It is crucial to measure results and compare them with the goal you have set. If your actual results differ from what was expected, do an investigation to find out why. Analyze your data and and see how often the same problems occur.

8.   Share new knowledge with employees

Once the results are back, it is important to share your insights with other employees. Qooling makes it possible to easily collaborate online with colleagues and share knowledge through our online solution. This will keep everyone up-to-date and reduces the chance of making the same mistake again.

By implementing this process properly you should be able to get a good feel for the cost of failure and how you can reduce this.

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Problem Solving Approach (8D) Method

The Eight Disciplines (8D) is a problem solving method for product and process improvement. Its purpose is to identify, correct, and eliminate recurring problems. The structured approach provides transparency, drives a team approach, and increases the chance of solving the problem. 8D follows the logic of the PDCA-cycle. The disciplines are:

D1: Use a Team

Gathering together a good and cross-functional team is a crucial part. Due to a varied composition of knowledge, skills and experience, a problem can be looked at from different angles.

D2: Define and Describe the Problem

Define the problem in measurable terminology: Who, What, When, Where, Why, How, How Much (5W2H analysis). This is a good addition to the problem analysis and can help you to get a clear description of the problem.

D3: Develop an Interim Containment Plan

This may be necessary to temporarily solve the obstacle. For example, to help a customer quickly and meet their expectations, or because a deadline has to be met. Finding the definitive solution in that case is of later concern. The point is that the problem getting worse is prevented, but it does have the goal of implementing the final solution later.

D4: Determine and Verify Root Causes

Before a definitive solution is found, it is important to identify underlying causes that may be at the root of the problem. Use the 5 Whys and cause and effects diagrams to map causes against the effect or problem identified.

D5: Verify Permanent Corrections (PCs)

As soon as the cause of the problem is known, the best solution can be found. From here, permanent corrections can be chosen and checked to solve the problem. It is also important to check whether the chosen solutions have any unwanted side effects. That is why it is necessary to also develop emergency measures that come in handy for unexpected events.

D6: Implement and Validate Corrective Actions

As soon as the definitive solution is clear, you can start with the implementation. By scheduling recurring audits, with a solution like Qooling for example, underlying problems can be eliminated prematurely. You also need to monitor long-term effects and take unforeseen events into account.

D7: Prevent Recurrence / System Problems

Prevention is better than cure. Therefore, additional measures must be taken to prevent you from making the same type of problems in the future. Often it is best to carefully review management systems, operation systems and procedures, and change them where necessary.

D8: Congratulate Your Team!

Recognize the collective efforts of the team. Formally thank team members for their involvement. Use approaches that appeal to each individual member, as not every employee is the same. This is therefore the most important step within the 8D method. Because without the team, the problem could probably not be found and solved. Make sure you celebrate achievements.

The 8D method is a great method to not only reduce product and processing concerns, but also to increase customer satisfaction. A practical workflow solution like Qooling can help you with this in many ways. Experience the many possibilities of Qooling and ask for a free demo.

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