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Continuous Improvement

By Curt Lopez, Quality System Lead Auditor & Project Manager for Missouri Enterprise

Three years.  That’s how long we’ve been talking about the dramatic changes involved in the transition from the soon to be obsolete ISO 9001:2008 requirements to the new ISO 9001:2015 standard.  September 14, 2018 is the deadline for transition.  That’s about 90 days away.

By Stacey Marler, Project Manager for Missouri Enterprise & President of the Rolla Tech. Inst., Drafting Technology Board

Blueprinting is the universal language in manufacturing— because it is all about measurements. Reading and applying it correctly in your operations ensures accuracy, which ensures happy customers and suppliers. Not knowing how to read blueprints is like not understanding the language in a foreign country. Here are a few tips on how to sharpen your blueprinting skills:

By LauraLee Rose, ASQ-certified Six Sigma Black Belt  & Project Manager for Missouri Enterprise

Six Sigma is a problem-solving methodology with the purpose of reducing variation in processes to reduce defects. It’s based on the use of proven statistical tools to analyze data. Here are 3 things you need to think about if you’re interested in using these powerful quality tools in the framework of the phases of Six Sigma: define, measure, analyze, improve and control (DMAIC).

Ik-Whan Kwon, Ph.D,
Professor of Supply Chain Management, Saint Louis University

Transportation plays a crucial role in supply chain optimization. Someone once said that “transportation is the blood in supply chain optimization spanning from sourcing to the last miles of delivery”. The most critical component in supply chain is to bring raw materials from sources to customers for finished products on-time to improve customer shopping experiences.

By T.H.L. Gordon, CFPIM
Missouri Enterprise Project Manager


Effective methods of improvement are essential for an organization’s growth, continued competitiveness and sustainability.  The TRIZ methodology complements other tools with a structured and disciplined approach to problem solutions.  The principles and benefits of TRIZ, and its unique characteristics, are discussed in this paper.

By David Felin, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager

ISO standards are reviewed and revised on a regular basis to stay relevant to the current business environment. In fact, the 2008 revision of the ISO 9001 Standard will become obsolete on September 14, 2018, being completely replaced by the 2015 revision at that time. 

By Dave Goebel, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager 

John has been a Plant Manager for just over a year. He’s proud of the productivity at his facility and the quality products produced there. Due to the focus on output, little effort went into cleaning and organization. Consequently, the workers were subjected to special cleaning sessions to prepare for visitors.

By Thomas Gordon, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager

Taking the ISO 9001 certification as a vehicle for excellence is a path most organizations do not follow because getting to certification is an algorithmic process, probably because of the initial pressure to get certified.  Certification is not the signal to sit on the river bank with your feet in the wate, and send out for beer and pizza – certification should be the beginning of the road to excellence; otherwise it can be a very expensive exercise in non-value-added activity.  To view certification in any other way is to make bricks without straw!

By Stacey Marler, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager

Blueprints and technical drawings use a lexicon of terms and symbols all their own.  They contain the critical details that allow your team to produce high quality products that meet expected tolerances and specifications. 

The more people on your production team who can read blueprints, the more eyes you have overseeing quality, and the greater your profitability through increased efficiency and minimized waste.  It’s simply not enough to have “your guy” on the floor who’s in charge of interpreting the details in blueprints and overseeing production.  If everyone’s going to be on the same page…they all need to be able to read that page, don’t they?

By Tom Gordon, CFPIM [a dyed-in-the wool poststructurarlist] 1
Missouri Enterprise Project Manager

 “Those who spend too much time with their noses glued
to maps will tend to mistake the map for the territory”.2

These are exciting times in the evolution of ISO 9001; the business driving the standard rather than the standard trying to drive the business. ‘Risk and Opportunity’ are perfect examples – all businesses, whether they realize it or not, are risk averse and aspirers to opportunity.   

To many business people the traditional dysphasia of the 20 element, pre-2000 model, is giving away to the business-focused 2015 standard.  I am sure that many people reading the 2015 version for the first time underwent a similar epiphany to those seeing, for example, Picasso’s 1910 “Standing Female Nude” for the first time. They finally “got it”! 3  Looking back at the old BS5750 and earlier versions of ISO 9001/2/3 what we see are a set of rules, a half-century of formalist indoctrination, which neither created a quality product for the Customer nor a dynamic way forward for the majority of organizations.

By Bob Beckmann, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager and Certified Energy Manager

Are you a gatekeeper who monitors and assesses ideas before you let them pass through to the next stage of development…or are you the keymaster, the one who holds all the keys and tells people “get this into production and sell it?” Both approaches can work of course, but the risks associated with option two can be far greater.

By David Goebel, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager

I’ve worked in manufacturing for over 38 years. As a manufacturing engineer with Emerson Electric, I spent a considerable amount of time managing multi-million-dollar, new product introduction projects. As a consultant, I now work with clients managing process improvement projects.

by Tom Gordon, CFPIM, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager 

The Ancient Mariner thought it a good idea to shoot the albatross; many organizations approach an ERP implementation in the same manner: - looking for a solution to their problems and growth in exactly the wrong way.  According to research conducted by the American Production and Inventory Control Society [APICS] only 5% of organizations achieve their expectations and return on investment [ROI] from their ERP implementations. 

By Laura Lee Rose, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager 

Let’s begin with a brief history of post-world war II manufacturing in the United States:  high demand for products; the rise of the middle class; the eventual advent of offshoring due to higher U.S. wages; manufacturing fell out of favor as a career.

By Terry Siddens, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager

Every production organization needs a reliable process to plan and schedule manufacturing operations. While this seems obvious, many companies struggle to fully understand how their information process works, and this often contributes to less than satisfactory results in efficiency and profitable productivity. On its most basic level, success is fulfilling customer orders on time, ideally when the customer wants product, but at a minimum when the company promises and plans to deliver. Failing to deliver on time is a reflection on all aspects of the operation, and shortcomings in the ability to access and use critical operational information is often a culprit.

By David Felin, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager

“Reliability Centered Maintenance: a process used to determine what must be done to ensure that any physical asset continues to do what its users wanted it to do in its present operating context.” – John Moubray

In the 1960s, the failure rate among first generation jet aircraft was considered unacceptable. Two engineers from United Airlines, Stanley Nowlan and Howard Heap began researching the failure causes in the air travel industry. That research lead to reliability centered maintenance (RCM). RCM was first described in a 1978 Nolan and Heap report for United Airlines. Their report began as follows,

“This volume provides the first discussion of Reliability Centered Maintenance as a logical discipline for the development of scheduled maintenance programs. The objective of such programs is to realize the inherent reliability capabilities of the equipment for which they are designed, and to do so at minimum cost. Each scheduled maintenance task in an RCM program is generated for an identifiable and explicit reason. The consequences of each failure possibility are evaluated, and the failures are then classified according to the severity of their consequences. Then for all significant items those whose failure involves operating safety or has major economic consequences proposed tasks are evaluated according to specific criteria of applicability and effectiveness. The resulting scheduled maintenance program thus includes all the tasks necessary to protect safety and operating reliability, and only the tasks that will accomplish this objective.”

By David Goebel, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager, SME Silver Certified Lean Practitioner

Over the years, I’ve talked with many manufacturing managers who’ve had bad experiences with Lean. They read books or attend seminars and rush out to the plant floor to get started on a project. They may get some positive initial benefit, however, the overall operation doesn’t improve. They conduct a post-mortem to identify the guilty parties and eventually determine that “Lean just doesn’t work here.”

by David Felin, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager

Lubing machinery can be a hot, thankless activity. It also happens to be an extremely important one.  Since most maintenance personnel with some degree of seniority don’t particularly want to do this job, partly because they feel their skills are better utilized elsewhere, this responsibility frequently falls to “The New Guy”. It’s a dirty job that anyone can do, right?  Not really.   

By LauraLee Rose, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager and Six Sigma Black Belt

Ask 10 different Six Sigma experts for their definition of Six Sigma and you will more than likely get 10 different answers. And none of them will be wrong. Six Sigma means different things to different people. It may be defined as a structured problem-solving methodology using Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control (DMAIC). Others may simply say it’s a toolbox of statistical tools which we apply to issues involving quality. And still others may simply look on it as a metric which represents 3.4 defects per million opportunities. And they’re all right.

By Dave Goebel, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager

Does your company practice Continuous Improvement effectively or is Continuous Improvement just another program? Is Continuous Improvement part of your company’s DNA or is it just another phrase that appears on coffee mugs and t-shirts? These are the real questions you need to challenge yourself with if you’re serious about running an effective, efficient, cost optimized manufacturing operation that maximizes bottom line profitability. 

Small manufacturers are big targets of cyber attacks. Cyber criminals are seeking your information including employee and customer records, banking and financial data, and access to larger networks. Small manufacturers are often seen as an easy entry point into larger businesses and government agencies. With limited resources and budgets, small manufacturers need cybersecurity guidance, solutions, and training that is practical, actionable, cost-effective and helps manage their cybersecurity risks. Missouri Enterprise is the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) organization for the State of Missouri, and is eminently qualified to support cybersecurity resilience for your manufacturing company as well as help you achieve compliance if you are a Department of Defense supplier. 

Cybersecurity protects the confidentiality, integrity and availability of your information. A cybersecurity program provides advantages for small and mid-sized manufacturers:

  • Improve Recovery Mitigate Risks Times After Disruptions
  • Avoid Potential Losses
  • Protect Valuable Data
  • Protect Valuable Data
  • Mitigate Risks

Reality of Cyber Attacks and Breaches:

*61% of small businesses have experienced a cyber attack in the past 12 months.
*58% of cyber crime victims are identified as small businesses.
*34% of all documented attacks targeted manufacturers.
*$60K is the median cost of a data breach.

CASE STUDY: A Premier Crane Builder Suffers Cyber Attack

A Veteran Owned Small Business, Cincinnati Crane & Hoist is committed to producing and distributing the finest American made cranes the market has to offer. But in 2017, the company suffered a cyber attack through a spearfishing campaign. "I will never forget the feeling I got in the pit of my stomach when I received that call...", said President and CEO Tony Strobl. Click on the image below to learn more about their story (VIDEO) and how our sister MEP in Ohio helped the company get back to business.


CASE STUDY: Transformer Company Transforms Into Hot Commodity -- Becoming Target for Cyber Scams

As Meramec Instrument Transformer Co. continued to grow, it was more frequently being targeted by phishing scams. It also experienced a few fraud attempts. One example was when the finance department received an email from CEO Nick Sanarazo asking them to wire $500K to another company. Read more...

Defense Suppliers: Compliance

Manufacturers in the DoD supply chain had until December 31, 2017 to be in compliance with new DFAR cybersecurity requirements. Still haven't fulfilled this requirement? Let us help! Reach out to your Area Business Manager to learn more. 

Attend our upcoming Workshop on Nov. 7 and take steps to meet the federal requirement.

Enhance Your Data Protection Efforts

Whether you’re a manufacturer implementing a cybersecurity program, or a DoD supplier looking to achieve compliance, Missouri Enterprise and the MEP National Network can help you protect your manufacturing company from cyber predators. Download 5 Steps to Reduce Cyber Risks.

Register for our upcoming Webinar on March 6 at 1 p.m.: Combating Information Attacks in a 24/7 Business World.

Click on the image below to read more about how cybersecurity resilience strengthens U.S. manufacturing.


Additional Cybersecurity Training Offerings:

Cybersecurity Training, Scanning, and Planning for IT Staff
This four-hour workshop addresses needs specific to Network and Server Administrators (i.e. system configurations and vulnerabilities protection).  Following the workshop, Missouri Enterprise will conduct an electronic network scan to identify areas of concern that will require remediation, and will be addressed in a confidential, written report. 

Using both an assessment worksheet and the results of the network scan, Missouri Enterprise works with the client’s IT Department to develop an implementation/action plan that can be used to document cybersecurity enhancements to meet the security standards discussed below.

The standards companies should meet are outlined in a publication from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST Special Publication 800-171) and fall into 14 categories with specific requirements in each.  The categories that are explored thoroughly during the four-hour workshop are:

  • Access Control
  • Media Protection
  • Awareness & Training
  • Personnel Security
  • Audit & Accountability
  • Physical Protection
  • Configuration Management
  • Risk Assessment
  • Identification & Authentication
  • Security Assessment
  • Incident Response
  • System & Communications Protection
  • Maintenance
  • Systems & Information Integrity

In-House Cybersecurity Training Workshop for General Staff
This one-hour workshop will enhance awareness of the need for cybersecurity and the primary steps everyone can take to make the business IT network as secure as possible.  These topics will include: Establishing a "Human Firewall,” Physical Security, Password Security, and Email Security Awareness Training.

For more information or for a complimentary consultation to review your needs and provide innovative solutions for your business, contact your Missouri Enterprise Area Business Manager.

FREE Webinar on Cyber-security - Combating Data Attacks in a 24/7 Business World

BLOG: Nine Tips for Protecting Your Company Against Cyber Attacks
BLOG: Cybersecurity Compliance Program for Defense Suppliers
BLOG: Cybersecurity Starts with Your Employees
BLOG: Recovering from a Cyberattack - If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail

Click Here to Download Our Cybersecurity Brochure