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Mobile app in QHSE Management

The mobile phone and usage of apps has got a prominent place in our lives—maybe a bit too prominent. Still, many companies don’t allow their employees to use their mobile phones during work time. There are numerous valid reasons for not allowing it: unsafe, loss of productivity, distractions, etc. When a company applies this policy, they mainly look at the negative sides of using a mobile phone.

There are indeed drawbacks of using mobile phones during work, but simply blocking them out means the company misses out. There is much potential in mobile usage for the QHSE management system, so it’s a real shame not to utilize this.

Why Not?

Companies have great reasons why not to use the mobile phone during working hours. They claim that people will use the phone for personal activities, such as personal calls or simply using Facebook. Yes, people will do this when they have their phone in reach, but you should also trust your employees that they know the balance between work and personal time.

The point of it being unsafe is a lot stronger. People will use the phone while they are working, which means they don’t pay attention to their work. We’ve all seen the videos of people getting into accidents due to this.

These are both serious complaints, and awareness training sessions should be provided to make this really clear. People should only use the phone during work when it is safe and for work-related actions.

Why?

There are quite a few reasons why phones should be banned from the workplace. However, the possibilities of the mobile phone in QHSE are enormous. The use of mobile apps in the QHSE management system will lead to a significant amount of new data and insights.

The ease of use of the mobile app in QHSE management is tremendous. People are so used to grabbing their phone for everything in their personal lives, hence training time and adoption. Most people intuitively know how to use a mobile app, especially when it is designed similar to the other apps they use on their mobile phone. The user is used to getting notifications when things change in apps, which is very convenient when things need to be done for the QHSE management system.

Harvest QHSE Data

Employees can file NCRs, fill out forms, and check out data without hurdles. They don’t have to find the form somewhere on a computer and type everything that they need to fill in—don’t get me started on the challenge of adding pictures to it. Doing this on an app is very simple if the right platforms are used.

Filling in forms and gathering the information is one easy example of what is possible with the mobile QHSE app. We have seen a 100 percent increase in issues filed due to the ease of use of mobile phones. Also, the ability to autocomplete data makes the mobile app the number one platform for creating QHSE management data. Things like QR-code scanning and GPS data make it so easy to gather lots of data without much effort. Next to the administrative actions, online training for safety and quality awareness or new work instructions can easily be performed on the mobile with the right platform.

Proper Policy

When you allow employees to use the phone on the production sites, it is crucial to have some clear guidelines to prevent undesired behavior. The employees have to understand that they get this freedom but always have to put their own safety first no matter what happens. Also make it clear that they need to do the work and don’t spend their time on Facebook. Good guidelines and clear consequences when they don’t follow the guidelines.

Conclusion

Not utilizing the mobile phone is a loss of opportunity to improve the QHSE management and the safety and quality culture. An app makes it so much easier for employees to interact with the QHSE management system and makes them more aware of this. Give employees this option but clearly communicate what kind of behavior is acceptable and what isn’t.

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How to Set Great Quality Objectives

Quality objectives are measurable goals and the base of long-term quality improvement planning. After setting a target, simply hoping that changes occur to achieve the goal is not an effective way to improve a QMS. You need to work towards that goal.

Make it SMART

Once you’ve determined which products or processes you want to monitor, measure, and improve, you need to make sure that your quality objectives are achieved effectively. To have the best chance of achieving these goals, I would recommend you to use the SMART method. This method states that all quality objectives need to be Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, and Time-based. Here’s how you do this: 

Specific: Describethe quality objective as specific as possible so that everyone in the organization understands it. Rather than striving “to reduce production defects,” a better description should be “to reduce production defects by 10% in the engine assembly line”. To test whether it’s specific enough, you can try to see if your goal could be interpreted differently. If so, your goal is not yet well formulated. 

Measurable: Without measuring your goals, how can you determine if an objective is achieved? To show visible improvement, it’s important to express this in percentages or numbers. For instance:  

  • Reduce production defects by 10%
  • Obtain 90% customer on-time-delivery

Agreed: Objectives can’t be achieved if they’re created inside a vacuum. Top management buy-in is crucial in setting quality objectives, and make sure they’re communicated throughout your organization so relevant parties are made aware. All employees of the organization need to agree that the goals are achievable. 

Realistic: Setting unrealistic goals is never a good idea. You aren’t going to motivate your employees by telling them you want to go from 20% production defects to zero. Especially when you don’t have the resources to support this level of improvement. To keep everybody satisfied, set realistic goals—this will motivate them to put in a little bit of extra effort next time. 

Time-based: Finally, to be truly effective, objectives must have a specific deadline for results. Without a timeline, goals might be easily forgotten when overshadowed by day-to-day activities. For example, “reduce production defects in the engine assembly line by 10% in the next year”. 

Quality objectives can be established for any process and can be specific to a department, team, or project, as long as they are relevant to your QMS. Always make sure that quality objectives are properly communicated throughout your entire organization so relevant parties are made aware. 

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Key IT consideration When Selecting a New Quality Platform

Quality management is a key target for digital transformation, and while adoption of quality systems is growing, it’s important to address IT concerns before you make your final decision.

If you’re considering to invest in a quality management platform for your organization, it’s essential to think about the security, ease-of-use, and integration with other systems. Today we’re looking at each of these, so that you can make a well-considered choice.

Cloud vs. On-Premise

By 2020, Gartner expects that Software as a Service (SaaS) will officially surpass on-premise software solutions. The main reasons so many companies are opting for cloud, and SaaS inparticular, comes down to the total cost of ownership. Updates are part of the package and most of the time on a regular basis, so updating your system isn’t required anymore.

Easily Deployable

SaaS solutions are much faster to deploy than the on-premise solutions. Most SaaS solutions start right away without any requirements for installation. You simply login and are ready to go. This will cut deployment time by at least a couple of weeks, or even months, depending on thecapacity of the server.

Security and Reliability

The SaaS platforms put a lot of time and effort in the security and reliability of the system. These security standards are at least on the same level and regularly higher than most on-premise servers. Due to the infrastructure of these platforms, they have big incentives to keep the platform secure and reliable. Security and reliability shouldn’t be a reason to move to SaaS any-more. The infrastructure of the major data centers allows these platforms to have new serversalmost instantly.

Ease of Use

Enabling people to really add value to the management system can only be accomplished whenthe solution is easy to use. The employees have to have access to the platform from anywhere in the world and with any device. These characteristics are critical when you want to reach massadoption among the employees.

Integrate with Business Intelligence Tools

Most SaaS solutions come with API’s to easily integrate with other solutions like BI tools. The data has to be structured in such a way that the other solutions can interpret the information. The API is the unified way to accomplish this. When selecting your next solution, make sure the solution has an API to connect to.

Conclusion

There are a number of important points to look at, but when selecting a new Quality Management solution make sure you start to move towards a SaaS solution.

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The 7 Essential Quality Tools for Process Improvement

The 7 basic tools of quality (or 7 QC Tools) were conceptualized for the first time by Kaoru Ishikawa, a professor of engineering at the University of Tokyo. They are a set of relativity simple data analysis tools used to support quality improvement efforts.

The 7 basic quality tools are essentially techniques used to identify and fix issues related to product or process quality. When an organization starts the journey of quality improvement, they normally have many low hanging fruits. These could be eliminated with these basic 7 QC tools. The 7 QC tools are fairly simple to understand and implement because they don’t require complex analytical/ statistics to use.

So What Are the 7 Basic Tools of Quality?

  1. Control chart
  2. Flow Chart
  3. Check Sheet
  4. Pareto Chart
  5. Fishbone Diagram
  6. Histogram
  7. Scatter Diagram

Flow Chart

Flow charts are the best process improvement tools that you can use to analyze a series of events. They show you how processes work visually. This tool is mainly used to map out processes to determine where the bottlenecks or breakdowns are in work processes.

Cause and Effect Diagram

The cause-and-effect diagrams can be used to understand the root causes of business problems. This analysis is designed to get into the detailed fundamental causes of the issue, without any bias. The analysis will lead to significant insight into why thingswent wrong.

Check Sheet

A check sheet is a structured, prepared form (document) for collecting and analyzing data to evaluate quality. For example, you can use a check sheet to track the number of times a specific incident occurs.

Histogram

A histogram is a chart that shows how often a value, or range of value, occurswithin a given time period. Histograms provide a visual summary of a large amount of variable data. If the histogram is normal then the graph will have a bell-shaped curve.

Pareto Chart

Pareto charts are charts that contain bars and a line graph. A Pareto chart takes advantage of the 80/20 rule to visually show the categories with the largest impact on a problem. It states that 80 percent of an effect comes from 20 percent of the causes.

Control Chart

A control chart is a graph that displays trends, shifts, or patterns in the output ofa process over time. These charts allow you to identify the stability and predictability of the process and identify whether the process is under control.

Scatter Diagram

A scatter diagram or scatter plot is basically a statistical tool to represent the value of two different variables. The purpose of using this is to find the relationship between the problem (overall effect) and causes that are affecting.

Once a tool is learned, it can be adapted to various problem-solving opportunities. As with everything else, the use of these tools will require some practice and experience. Simply start with the tool that is easiest for you, and over time you will get the hang of it and become a great problem solver!

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The Truth about QMS platforms vs. alternatives

It remains a bottleneck for many companies—do we opt for a quality management system or do we prefer one of the many alternatives? All solutions have their strengths, but they aren’t always the right solution to stay compliant and get the most out of your quality management. To give you a better insight into the bad and good sides of these solutions, we will shortly discuss the most common alternatives. 

Paper-Based Systems (Supported by Excel/Word)

Many companies still have a paper-based QMS system in combination with Word, Excel, and other Microsoft Office files to keep track of their documentation. The problem in a paper-based system is that companies constantly battle to make sure they are up-to-date with the latest procedures, copies, and more. Such systems require a lot of maintenance and are time-consuming to administer, which does not favor the benefits of a certificate. This approach also has a lot of time-consuming activities such as keying over the information from paper to Excel sheets. This not only costs a lot of time but also introduces lots of errors.

ERP Solutions

The use of ERP “solutions” for QMS has the potential to minimize the number of IT systems and offers “special” modules for certain aspects within QHSE compliance management. However, the fact is these systems are not built to be used as a compliance platform and certainly do not favor the functionality, flexibility, and support of a specialist system. These solutions can work for you, but they come at a cost of missing features and functionalities.

In-House Development

Of course, it is possible to develop a complete management system in-house. Choosing this route is usually the most expensive one. Not only does it cost scarce resources of developers, but it also requires a lot of input from operations. The developers have no idea what to develop. This needs to be analyzed and clarified by the people in the operations. When they help out, they cannot do their own job so the cost gets doubled. An other downside is the requirements of updates. Every time something needs to change the developers need to be available. This will lead to some serious costs to the company.

Specialized QMS System

A specialized QMS system such as Qooling provides the right tools to improve your business so that you can make decisions based on data from within your organization. These platforms are continuously improved based on feedback from customers and other specialists in the field. The updates are part of the package and don’t require additional costs. The fact that these platforms are built for compliance only, means that all the features are present and all aspects from different standards are embedded. The other big plus is that they run out of the box, which leads to an implementation time of weeks, not quarters or even years.

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How to Implement a QHSE Platform

Buying new a new SaaS solution always requires changes within the way the company works. Sometimes these changes might be minor and sometimes they will be major, but either way they are always for the better. However, not every employee will experience it this way. Some might feel they simply don’t need to change, as most people are resilient to it.

When a new Quality and Safety solution has been purchased, this is no different. Whether you previously worked with Word and Excel files on your server or with an on-premise solution, there will be changes that come along with this new solution.

Key Users

These are mostly the easiest to convince to change. They use the solution quite frequently and have experienced the downfalls of the current way of working. The Key Users are therefore eager to change and might have even been involved or consulted during the selection process. This is relatively easy to do. However, there is another important role for the Key Users and that is a lot harder to convince them of. They should become the internal trainer/consultant. When other people experience problems or difficulties with the solution, they should be able to consult with a Key User. The Key Users are crucial in having a wide adoption on the platform because of this role. Hence, make the Key Users aware of their important role and thank them for this. They are the specialists and they should be made aware of their importance. Everybody wants to feel special in some way, so make sure they feel appreciated.

What Is in It for Me?

The regular users are much more resistant to change. Some might experience the day to day problems but most don’t see many problems with the current way of working. They don’t follow the process completely or somebody else always takes care of this. The introduction of a new solution will force them to do a bit more or simply follow the processes properly. When this is known, make sure you clearly show to the people why it is important that they start to work this way. Explain to them why the solution has been purchased, which problems it solves and how it will help them. For example, now the employees can file issues with their mobile phone thanks to a mobile app. Previously they needed a printed form for this. There is a lot of time saved, not just by the regular user but also by the quality department. Make them not only aware of the time saved for them but also for the entire company. Most people do want what’s best for the company and if they don’t, you have a completely different problem.

Celebrate Success

When the new platform shows good results and gets adopted, celebrate the successes. The success can be big or small, but celebrate them no matter what. When a significant number of hours has been saved or incident costs have been reduced significantly, celebrate this. Order a lunch, get cake or grab a beer with the team. Think of something special and celebrate the success with everybody, not just with the Key Users. Even though you bought a new online solution, in the end you need everybody to make it work.

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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. Published by:

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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