Continuous Improvement: Deliberate, Disciplined, Detailed

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Harbec’s keys to success stem from a deliberate and disciplined attention to quality in everything we do.

More and more the behavior elements of business success are being studied. Why do some businesses succeed and others fail? Why do some businesses have product recalls while others don’t? In the past 20 years the term quality has become engrained in U.S. manufacturers and is a precursor to financial performance (top and bottom line results), regulatory compliance, customer satisfaction, and business reputation. As a result, the management of quality is a business objective and management priority which results in the efficient, responsible, and innovative operation of the business. Managing quality is prescriptive, proactive, and preventive. It requires the ability to take a holistic and systems-level view of the business value-chain and a microscopic level of detail of individual parts. Quality cuts across business functions from procurement and supply chain logistics to materials management, manufacturing, part inspection, packaging, and shipping. Quality is not one person’s title; it is everyone’s responsibility. Many years ago Harbec understood how critical quality was to its business. As a result it chose to become ISO 9001 certified and manage quality as a business priority across all facets of its business.

The following Harbec lessons on quality management are useful reminders to ensure that your employees, vendors, and customers view quality with a sense of urgency and accountability, and how you can constantly reinforce your quality culture:

  • Establish and Refine Goals – Harbec has established specific and measurable quality goals which are reported monthly at all levels company wide. The goals help keep our employees focused and increase speed while eliminating errors. The goals are refined and updated to maintain a disciplined culture of continuous improvement.
  • Empower Workers – Our employee suggestions are important and Harbec encourages input and discussions on improving our quality processes. It is imperative to our continual improvement process that all our employees contribute.
  • Invest in your people with quality training – Harbec also understands that the quality of an organization can never exceed the quality of the minds that make it up. Harbec saw a need to increase training which helps employees live up to their full potential and strengthens its pool of talented and skilled employees.
  • Invest in and adopt new software and equipment – Harbec has made significant upgrades in equipment and software to their Quality Department which has provided additional technical capability for part inspections. Recent Harbec equipment additions include: a second automated Sheffield Discovery CMM, a Brown and Sharpe Optiv programmable Vision System with CMM capabilities, a Brown and Sharpe Optiv Classic 123 Vision System, a Master Gage portable CMM arm, 5 new high-powered microscopes, a Konica Minolta Spectrophotometer to measure color values and a digital Brown and Shape Tesa700 Hite Gage. Harbec also invested in software upgrades to give more timely and accurate inspections. Inspection Easy was purchased to reduce the time needed to complete first article inspections. What previously took hours and in some cases, days to produce a report by-hand, now takes minutes as a result of Harbec’s adoption of Inspection Easy which automatically bubbles prints and transfer data onto reports while identifying out of tolerance dimensions. Harbec also added QC Calc to take dimensional results from our Vision Systems and CMM and automatically transfers results onto inspection reports. This allows Harbec to inspect 100% of the dimensions on 100% of the parts produced without the time consuming reporting by-hand which typically accompanied such tasks. Investment in new equipment and software has allowed Harbec to meet the stringent quality requirements of customers in the medical, electronics, automotive, and aerospace markets.
  • Adopt a disciplined project management and communications culture – Harbec has a highly experienced team of project managers that are the nexus between our customers, vendors, and our toolmakers. As the conduit between people, parts, and profit, project managers embrace quality by ensuring clear communications are prevalent in every phase of a project, from conceptual ideas to project kick-off, launch, and management. By reinforcing the value and need for disciplined project management and constant communication, Harbec project managers are able to support quality throughout the life-cycle of projects.

Managing quality is unique to the management culture of every business. However there are cross-cutting best practices such as those identified from Harbec that allow quality to achieve business results. As a result of proactively managing and strengthening quality in all of its operations and relationships, Harbec has been able to increase its technical capabilities, establish and measure goals, dramatically decrease customer complaints and returns, lower scrap, and decrease PPM numbers while increasing productivity in sectors known to value and demand high quality including medical, electronics, aerospace, and automotive manufacturing. People are the beating heart of any organization. With a focus on empowering and training its employees Harbec has been successful at making quality a company-wide commitment beyond the confines of a single department. When everyone’s responsibility is quality, everyone wins.

Please check our Solutions! newsletter for more thoughts on Quality.