The quality and process management methods commonly used by glass manufacturers give them a clear advantage over other players. The practices and culture maintained by glass manufacturers are reminiscent of the operations of car...
The quality and process management methods commonly used by glass manufacturers give them a clear advantage over other players. The practices and culture maintained by glass manufacturers are reminiscent of the operations of car manufacturers. However, not all glass manufacturers are able to maintain their competitiveness. Common operating models and practices – such as Cp (Capacity Index) and SPC (System Process Control) figures – along with clearly defined management methods and systems enable more transparent operational results, making it easier for vehicle makers to understand the operations. Lean and Six Sigma systems and tools exemplify modern, widely used methods for evaluating and managing processes. Quality system functionality and transparency provide vehicle makers with reliable evidence of the level of operations through, for example, internal production key figures that offer concrete, logical information. For example, a customer reports poor product quality – such as sub-par reflection optics – and has requested clarification and an 8D report (a methodology used to correct Customer Failure(s) to address the issue. What capacity or practices does the glass manufacture have for this kind of situation? How many companies are able to respond and proceed according to standardized processes and quality management aimed at addressing issues reported by the end customers? For vehicle manufacturers, the cause of the problem is of little consequence. What is important is that glass manufactures are able to manage their own systems and their know-how is at a level that makes them competitive, and a reliable supplier. With a disciplined, systematic approach we can create a culture of consistent practices that is easily sustainable. In the view of SGE (Safety Glass Experts), companies that perform at a normal production level, but that lack consistent, careful practices, cannot be competitive, because their lack of self-scrutiny impedes their ability to control their procedures. The inability of an organization to perceive and handle internal issues endangers its future success. Continuing improvement requires the organization to aspire and to be able to process and develop its practices in a sustainable manner.
A competitive glass manufacturer must employ systems for maintaining and measuring process and quality management in accordance with current legislative, ARG market and OEM customer standards (ECR-43, ANSI Z261). All development is based on the desire to understand and improve internal processes.
Short-term measures – such as reclamation procedures – are not, by themselves, enough to convince customers. Production should adhere to clearly defined objectives and related barometers for assessing and monitoring results and status. Self-directed, independent monitoring and management showcase a clear message of well-managed operations. There are undoubtedly several measures in place within the glass industry for monitoring and maintaining quality and process management, but do they fit their purpose? How are the glass manufactures full filling the vehicle makers expectations of the monitoring systems? Are the measures the glass manufactures something they are forced to do, or are they based on their desire to meet the customer’s requirements? This approach has a concrete impact on operations and results. If the operations consist entirely of acting on the customer’s requests without independent monitoring and continues development, they will likely have a negative impact on purposefulness and benefits. Endless problem-solving and chaos will persist day after day. A vast amount of resources will be wasted. Operating in this manner will not lead to fewer reclamations or improvements in production efficiency. One of the key elements of successful operations is the acknowledgement that production process results are the sum of common factors related to the process, and this is why it is important to know how to understand and measure their operations. We should be aware of the significance of monitoring, especially from a qualitative perspective. Currently, SGE finds that many manufacturers monitor reclamations and product loss. In general, this means monitoring an existing problem and situation but not taking correct action. Continues monitoring and barometers are aimed at measuring processes and related factors that contribute to production in order to reach a good production level.
Quality practices entail the following characteristics: one production process per product, appropriate level of quality, ensured quality capability to produce quality, learning from mistakes and quality management. It is important to keep in mind that only quality work is productive. A quality cost chart can be divided into two parts: costs contributing to quality and costs resulting from bad quality.
Quality work means managing quality, time and costs:
• Quality costs are a means to identify areas for development;
• Help in determining trends;
• Help in setting goals.
What is important is that only process management yields profits and value. Process management is the only valuable function; the rest is waste. Basically, this is what waste is considered to be. If production performance is poor – such as when the yield is at 80 per cent – it can be assumed that we are spending time on wasteful processes instead of on making profit.
Acknowledging the real level of quality and reasons behind waste
The glass manufacturer should be aware of his own level of quality from the customer’s perspective. Perhaps the customer has had to accept and purchase a glass product that is adequate, but not the best possible choice. In terms of competitiveness, this creates a dangerous situation that cannot be addressed with a mere price reduction. Process and quality management provides the opportunity to create new products and innovations, and even pioneer the industry. If persisting problems tend to exist due to so-called exceptional circumstances causing significant one-time losses; or if processes vary to a degree that process control is based on guessing, it is clear that resources and control methods are not applied correctly. A key issue in terms of understanding a glass manufacture status is recognizing what kind of losses and costs arise from their operations. In today’s highly competitive environment, glass manufacturers cannot operate cost-efficiently while maintaining competitive production unless they are able to thoroughly understand their own processes and related losses and maintain a reasonable ratio between production costs and losses. Cost structure and productivity must be monitored and managed in various stages of the manufacturing processes.
Competitiveness and resources available
When we look at the management systems implemented by various glass manufacturers, we can see differences among systems and their areas of emphasis. These are naturally influenced by, for example, cost structure and customership. However, in terms of being competitive, glass manufacturers must be aware of their resources and capabilities. This is yet another reason for applying the correct methods and monitoring systems to glass manufacturers operations - What are the glass manufactures strong and weak points? What areas do they need to emphasize now and in the future to be able to maintain competitiveness in the marketplace? Answering these questions will provide them with an understanding of their current status, and it will also provide them with a perspective on needs and deficiencies that they might otherwise be oblivious to. For example, during the last 10 years, car windshield manufacturers have introduced a number of value added materials such as sensors and camera brackets. This is another area to look at in terms of the competitiveness and capability. Are they able to produce a competitive, value added product? What resources they have to possess in terms of know-how costs and other assets? There should be a continuous and extensive assessment and monitoring of resources, and this should be a part of day-to-day operations and management practices. Assessments should not be restricted to merely observing equipment and production capacity or the amount of human resources. An assessment of the future should be carried out by looking at marketplace requirements and growth possibilities. Knowing our own resources enables us to assess our relationship with customers. In addition, it is advisable to consider whether it is possible to carry out assessments on an in-house basis, or if outsourcing is the smarter choice.
Striking a balance between strategies and unreal target expectations
Do we operate at the cost of price or quality, and why are we forced to choose? How does this impact our day-to-day operations and financial results? Would it be more reasonable to evaluate and produce less with less gain rather than producing more with more loss? This balancing act highlights a lack of goals and of their attainment. It is important to be wary of what customers are promised and what is actually delivered. All glass manufacturers should set realistic goals and maintain the appropriate conditions for reaching them. Overall, this may be the most significant challenge in this work. There are times when not everyone commit to the objectives set. Conflicting attitudes on, and responsibility for, the end result – i.e., the glass part delivered to an internal/external customer – prevent these goals from being attained. Some companies always look at customers as being external customers, receivers of the end product. While the customers who purchase the glass parts are indeed the final evaluators of quality and do carry the highest priority, internal development requires that we look at customership internally as well. This serves as an opportunity to improve the operations by supporting internal customership, and this latter requires us to use our know-how in order to produce glass of such high quality that it will not negatively impact further production stages or the final customer. The operations are managed based of level of knowledge. In order to truly understand the operations, we must measure, and subsequently assess, to production. This approach enables us to perceive all relevant changes and events. Failure to operate this way will severely impede the system and its management.
Productivity and waste
Are we efficient enough in the correct areas? Is the production efficiency allocated to equipment, but not to human resources? Or is it the other way round? Which vital asset is most valuable to us? Which one should be emphasized more? We in SGE believe that employees are always the most vital asset in any operation, however, it is also important to acknowledge other elements and their significance. These elements can be compared to various factors, such as future challenges. The amount of its additional quality costs defines an organization’s potential for being successful in the marketplace. However, many companies use an inordinate amount of time fixing, searching for and explaining various defects.
Beyond the direct costs associated with finding and fixing defects, the ‘Costs of Poor Quality’ also include:
• The hidden cost of failing to meet customer expectations the first time;
• The hidden opportunity for increased efficiency;
• The hidden potential for higher profits;
• The hidden loss in market share;
• The hidden increase in production cycle time;
• The hidden labour associated with ordering replacement material;
• The hidden costs associated with disposing of defects.
Lean thinking is an efficient tool and philosophy that enables us to determine which resources are wasted and how to improve and better use them. This simple diagram shows various areas where our resources are wasted. One key element of resource allocation is to match production planning with production management, aiming at cooperation in day-to-day operations. This does not always occur, as the two often operate as independent units, serving independent functions and purposes. We should acknowledge the concept of cooperation and what it takes to maintain it. If the common goal is to produce a glass part in accordance with the customer’s requirements, the correct schedule and delivery, operations should be approached and managed as an entity in which all units strive for the same goal – not as independent units with independent goals that may sometimes even impede the operations of other units. How much could we improve resource allocation and reduce waste (Muda) by, for example, engaging in better cooperation with production planning or maintenance? This philosophy is still insufficiently observed among some glass manufacturers. These companies lack the concept of ‘internal customer’ that would increase appreciation for the work of other units while highlighting the importance of cooperation.
Organizational culture is a vital part of the dynamic of sustainable development. It introduces into the operations an important element required to elicit the commitment needed to gain results. Cultivation of this internal culture – where cooperation and respect for one another create an independent, responsible production environment – will result in a progressive, collaborative trend that will further increase the competitiveness. One significant part of this is leadership. How is leadership perceived and how is it practised in the organizational culture? Our immediate superiors serve as examples of company practices. Day-to-day operations require making choices on various issues, and these choices play a part in forming the culture of decision-making and reasoning. Organizational and personal values influence our decision-making and, thus, organizational values play an especially significant role in the practise of leadership. Leadership training should be based on logical and appropriate leadership methods that facilitate the creation of a desirable organizational culture.
Safety Glass Experts International Expert Advisory
Safety Glass Experts International provides training for process and product monitoring systems using LEAN and Sig Sigma philosophy, and also offers modern-day methods and tools to improve quality and process control.
Our expert advisory services are designed to provide expert assistance in the diagnosis of the root causes of production quality defects and in the development/introduction of new product types. Our experts will examine the complete process and guide our customer’s staff through the process while simultaneously providing them with insight and knowledge aimed at meeting future challenges.