Category Archives: QHSE

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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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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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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PESTEL analysis – Context of the organisation

As an addition to our previous published blog about the SWOT analysis, I decided to give you more information on another effective tool for identifying the context of the organization of clause 4.1. Just like the SWOT, the PESTEL is one of the tools that is most used by companies to identify the external aspects of the organization. You’re probably thinking that you don’t need to use both the SWOT and PESTEL analysis, and you’re right as the SWOT analysis already takes care of the external factors. Although, business environmental scanning is best achieved when using both tools in collaboration. It may be a cumbersome task, but it gives your organization the full view of defining the context.

ISO Ask for Context Analysis

The new requirements of ISO 9001:2015 state that you need to carry out an analysis that indicates the internal and external factors that affect the organization. To help you further, I’ll show you examples of each factor so that you can apply them to your business.

(P)olitical factors

By examining the political factors, you should look at government decisions. Legislation and regulations are very important here. A change in these can affect your organization in the upcoming 3 to 5 years. Ask yourself the following questions:

(E)conomic factors

You will have to examine which economic factors may affect your organization. These factors are determinants of an economy’s performance that directly impact your organization and have resonating long term effects. Use the following questions to find out the important factors:

  • How stable is the current economy? Is it in an period of growth or recession?
  • How is globalization affecting the economic environment?
  • Do consumers and businesses have easy access to credit? If not, how will this affect your organization?

(S)ocio-cultural factors

The consumer is mapped out by means of socio-cultural factors. This makes it possible to determine, among other things, how far the power lies with the consumer. The socio-cultural factors can be examined by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Are people changing buying habits?
  • How do religious beliefs and lifestyle choices affect the population?
  • Are there any new social trends?

(T)echnological factors

Depending on the industry, these factors will have more impact or less impact. Assess any big technological developments and determine how they can impact your organisation. These questions can help you further:

  • Are there new technologies that you could be using?
  • Do any of your competitors have access to new technologies that will result in a competitive advantage?
  • Are there other technological developments that could affect your industry?

(E)nvironmental factors

The level at which you should identify environmental aspects will depend on your intended purpose. A company can determine that they have environmental aspects consisting of:

(L)egal factors

This factor takes into consideration all legal aspects. This point is closely related to political factors but focuses more on the actual laws and not on the political directions of a country or region. This can include:

  • Are their new environmental permitting requirements for your sector?
  • Could any industry-specific regulation affect your organization?
  • Are there changes in employees’ law?

TIP:

Do not collect large amounts of data without properly analyzing and understanding them first. After that you can carefully consider which factors are important to your organization. This allows you to create an actionable plan that is prepared for upcoming changes.

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How to build a safety culture in 6 steps

Safety is more than a number of measures to prevent accidents. To build a strong safety culture, it has to come to life among all employees of the organization. Although most employers take extensive steps to protect their employees, these regulations are almost always meaningless without an overall positive safety culture within the organization. Employees must have a shared vision when it comes to safety, where also top management plays an important role.

In this post we discuss six important points that contribute to a better safety culture within your organization.

1. Communication

Communicating occupational safety and health information with your employees is crucial to prevent accidents from happening. It is only human to forget crucial information or cut corners when there is no one there to check them. Apply the communication the best way suitable for your company with flyers or via digital communication boards.

2. Provide training

By regularly offering training courses, employees are always up-to-date with the latest developments. Share best practices during weekly safety meetings and provide safety information to your employees. This keeps employees sharp, so accidents can be prevented. During the training also explain why it is important to share the knowledge gained by the company thanks to employees sharing their experiences and expertise.

3. Lead by Example

Leadership is a crucial part of ensuring safety on the construction site. Employees who see their supervisor take safety at work seriously, are more likely to take the time and effort to work safety. Don’t walk on side within the proper PPE’s.

4. Involve workers

The more an employee understand and feels involved by creating a safety culture, the more likely they will take actions. Make the employees part of the improvements the company makes. Show them how they contributed to the outcomes.

5. Top management buy-in

In order for an organization to develop a strong safety culture, the safety culture must start from the top and all the way down to the least experienced employee. All employees must understand that safety is their most important priority of his or her work.

6. Celebrate success

It is important to give your employees credits when they are reaching goals. By celebrating your success, you will give your employees the feeling that they are of real value for the company. It also reinforces the motivation that employees will carry during the next performance.

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8 Tips for How to Approach the ‘internal context’ in relation to ISO9001: 2015

One of the bottlenecks that I encountered when my customers developed their quality management system to comply with ISO9001: 2015 is the concept of “internal context”.

1 Employee engagement

The engagement of employees is fundamental to the success of every business operation. Reducing turnover also reduces costs associated with recruitment such as agency fees, preparation of contracts and training and inductions.  Engagement with the quality management system is integral to its effectiveness. Everyone at every level should know how they contribute to quality.

2 Training and development

Whether your employees undertake formal external training, an internal development program (such as a graduate scheme or accelerated promotion scheme) or informal sharing of knowledge through a buddy or mentor system, training and development is key to managing a skilled workforce.   A quality management system can help you to identify training needs and maintain appropriate records.

3 Skills and competence

Consider how your quality management system can help you to identify and address skills gaps and ensure you always have the right skills to satisfy your customer requirements.  How will you measure competence to ensure the effectiveness of any training you provide or any specific skills you recruit?

4 Physical resources

Ensuring you have the right physical resources to deliver your promise to customers is essential.  A quality management system can help you get to grips with what you need, where and when you need it and what the potential impact might be if you don’t.

5 Management methodology

ISO 9001:2015 promotes leadership at all levels.  It talks about top management empowering and encouraging leadership to promote the quality management system.  Do all your managers sing from the same hymn sheet? Are your management team clear on the vision, values and goals of the company?

6 Policies

Having robust policies in place to support your business strategy is essential.  Not only do they set out your stance internally for staff members, they can also provide a source of information externally for your customers and suppliers.

7 Mission and values

This is essentially your reason for being in business along with the principles which matter to you in running your business.  These are an important element of a quality management system as they feed in to the policies and management methodology mentioned above.

8 Supplier / partner management

Is your business entirely self-sufficient?  Chances are you rely on at least one key supplier or partner in order to deliver your products or services.  Try categorising them in order of how critical they are to your operations. The ones that you absolutely can’t function without should be your priority to manage.

 

This article has been written by Lucy Payne of valeqms.co.uk

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When is an Audit not an Audit?

When you decide to become ISO certified you go through a series of steps and the certification body you choose also goes through a series of steps. Some companies hire a QA or QHSE Manager to undertake this task whereas others bring in outside help. The path you choose really depends upon your budget and how much time you are able to spend on writing processes, policies, procedures, job descriptions, conducting audits, writing reports, performing an audit, etc.

The consultant and certification body you choose have a huge impact on the integrity and robustness of your system.

Internal and 3rd Party audits serve two purposes. The audit by the Certification Body is obviously to get the certificate. The initial internal audit is to ensure that the QMS/QHSE system is ready for the 3rd party audit and subsequent audits ensure that the system maintains its integrity.

This is where 3rd party auditors play a key role. If 3rd party auditors do a bad job during audits it sends the wrong message to the companies’ management and internal auditors. A bad audit may take place because (1) the auditor is inexperienced in the industry he is auditing, (2) he generally lacks audit experience or (3) it’s deliberate. It is the latter that is the most worrying and is what I like to call a ‘fake audit’.

So what happens during these fake audits? Here are the signs to look for:

1.     The consultant comes with a 2 in 1 package, i.e. get the consultancy and the certificate for one fee. In essence, well known Certification Bodies’ fees are not cheap for a reason and these are separate from the consultant’s fees.

2.     A certificate is issued without an actual audit; maybe just after a meeting or a desktop audit.

3.     If the auditor does turn up and conducts an audit, obvious major or numerous minor non-conformities are ignored. In other words non-conformities are not issued when they should be.

4.     The Auditor says one thing to the Management Representative and another to the company management.

5.     Instead of focussing on the audit, the auditor spends more time complaining about his job and wishing he worked in a company like yours. This might give an indication as to why he is being soft.

Therefore, it’s worth remembering that not all certificates are the same.

This article has been written by Birjees Hussain

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