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Description based on: 12/23/96; title from caption 13 14
Book digitized by Google from the library of Harvard University and uploaded to the Internet Archive by user tpb.
Description based on: 12/23/96; title from caption 13 14
Embracing Change Proven product quality for supplying car giants by Mary Luk In the competitive business of manufacturing and supplying automotive plastics parts, the highest quality standards must be met. Obtaining the internationally recognised QS9000 certificate can involve a great deal of internal corporate change but it goes a long way to proving your company's product quality in the global marketplace Ambitious manufacturers aiming to be long-term players in the automotive plastics parts supply industry must constantly upgrade their services and products. Discerning customers accept nothing but the best. Achieving QS9000 certification, recognised, among others, by Ford, General Motors and Daimler Chrysler Corporation, the automotive trade's Big Three, is therefore a major step towards guaranteeing quality control and ensuring that all plastics parts or assemblies supplied are of the highest standard. Jing Mei Automotive Limited (JMA), was awarded QS9000 last summer after completing a stringent process of re-engineering and internal improvement. Before 1998, manufacturing of automotive plastics parts was almost unheard of in Hong Kong. Tertiary institutions offered no formal training for engineers and there was no established local market, but four years' detailed research convinced JMA's founders that there was a potential overseas market for Hong Kong-made parts. Today 80 percent of their products are sold in the US and the balance in China. JMA began by producing automotive plastic parts that could draw on the parent group's expertise in plastic injection moulding, electroplating and other surface finishing technologies. At first, it also shared the group's manpower and other resources but, in 2000, decided to apply for QS9000 and began to foster its own specialists while setting up independent production lines. This initiative enabled JMA to exercise tighter control over the quality of products they were manufacturing. Obstacles faced Initially, JMA was unable to find sufficient qualified manufacturing engineers and had difficulty recruiting executives with a sound knowledge of the industry. Most staff lacked hands-on experience in dealing with customers or with co-workers in the Panyu factory which, these days, is part of an organisation with a total 550 employees. Company CEO, Ricky Chan, recalls how important on-the-job training was and that, "Employees needed to experiment with real orders placed by customers who would not tolerate mistakes, nor inefficiency. We had a hard time striking a balance," he says. After major restructuring, separate divisions for production, processing, logistics, engineering and after sales customer support were set up and 15 key managers appointed to head up these divisions. Outside experts were invited in and the Hong Kong Productivity Council was asked to play an advisory role in helping JMA achieve higher efficiencies. "When production is on the right track, the rest is guaranteed" Next, an Advanced Product Quality Planning Team was appointed to ensure projects were finished on time. Individual team members within each department monitored continuous improvement in operations and sought cost reductions. Management provided clear direction and kept employees fully informed of progress. "Everyone had to pitch in to ensure the system worked. Internally, our team spirit was stronger, externally, we had better partnerships with clients," says Mr Chan. "To be long-term players, we needed a robust foundation to deal with our customers." Clear procedures The advantage of QS9000 is that production is better controlled and procedures regularly audited. "This avoids undocumented changes and wasting production time and scarce resources. When production is on the right track, the rest is guaranteed," explains Mr Chan. Every year, the company invests approximately two to three percent of revenue in new technology. The objective is to increase efficiency and remain environmentally friendly, with an emphasis on proper training when new machinery and production systems are introduced. To maintain staff loyalty, JMA has established a Corporate Citizenship scheme intended to treat employees as family members. Workers are encouraged to communicate openly and create a sense of belonging to the company through charity programmes and other voluntary activities. During a recent brainstorming session, department heads collectively compiled guidelines to ensure that internal meetings are effective. Under these rules, meeting participants must be on time, open to suggestions, have an agenda ahead of time and stick to it. This is all part of the drive for continuous improvement. Mr Chan describes QS9000 as only an 'admission ticket' to the automotive plastics industry sector. His next ambition is to acquire the ISO/TS 16949:2002 certificate, a prestigious accreditation recognised by the automotive industry worldwide and for which stipulated conditions are more demanding. Manufacturers are assessed not just on final product quality but on customer satisfaction and employee qualifications among other categories. Mr Chan hopes to be awarded ISO/TS 16949:2002 by the first quarter of 2005. BEFORE & AFTER Before * Each department worked on its own; less communication * Management strategies not clear enough * Diverse undocumented processes used * Wastage in machine efficiency and capacity * Longer lead time in launching new programmes and products * Company direction not understood by the entire organisation After * Better coordination through increased communication among departments and more openness * Appoint a champion to lead cross matrix teams for continuous improvement, including cost reduction scheme * Clear, audited procedures for all key operating processes * Better machine efficiency and utilisation through revised practices * Increased First-Time-Through (FTT) rate achieved * Comprehensive management direction is clearly shared with every employee Taken from Career Times 13 February 2004 Your comments are welcome at [email protected]