Team 1 Plastics, a plastic injection molding company for the transportation industry, believes that “Building an exceptional company is the result of building exceptional teams with exceptional people.” Today continues a series of articles profiling Team 1 Plastics’ teams – its Departments. Meet the Quality Department.
Name of Department: Quality Department
Team 1 Plastics’ Quality Department consist of seven Team Members: a Quality Manager, a Quality Engineer, a Quality Technician, and four Quality Auditors (QAs). Each QA works a different shift, ensuring that a member of the team is on-site 24/7 to support production. As the name suggests, the Quality Department is tasked with ensuring that the parts which Team 1 Plastics produces meet every quality standard of its customers.
How does your Department support Team 1’s Customers? “The most important ways we support our customers are the consistency of quality parts we produce and the responses we provide to any questions, concerns, or claims that they have,” said Dave Sanford, Quality Manager. “It’s all about customer service,” referring to Team 1 Plastics’ Championship Dream and the company’s goal to be “Your #1 Team In Customer Satisfaction.” “The quicker the response time, and the amount of support we can give them truly shows through.”
How does your Department support Team 1? Sanford said that the Quality Department supports Team 1 by “monitoring the parts that are in production, making sure that they are acceptable parts.” Each QA is constantly performing quality checks on parts being produced, often doing more checks than the work schedule requires. “We also support Team 1 through the QMS (Quality Management System). Being IATF certified, there’s a lot of work that goes into making sure that all of our processes and procedures are being followed and that they are up-to-date. These are living documents and constantly evolving. If we change something, we have to make sure we go back and update the documentation.”
Describe a typical work day in your Department. Having several different positions in the Quality Department, the typical work day is not the same for each of the Team Members. Sanford said, “We all have our defined roles, but at the same time, we all help each other out.” He said that his day-to-day work revolves around the “big picture” perspective and supporting the Quality Department Team Members.
Vance Bodell, Quality Engineer, is more involved in the day-to-day ensuring of quality of the parts. His work includes handling customers’ claims, updating manufacturing standards, and coordinating with the Maintenance Department that tool work is complete.
The Quality Technician, Carlos Cisneros, also plays a support role, assisting the QAs with their quality checks and was closely involved in creating their training program. He supports the customers by completing Team 1’s “annual layouts” – customer required annual revalidation of parts and procedures.
The Quality Auditors’ (QAs) main responsibility is to inspect parts. They visually inspect the parts and take basic measurements, ensuring that Team 1 is producing high-quality parts that are within specifications. They also help with customer claims by pulling the products from production or the warehouse, putting them into containment, and setting up the instructions for the Sorting Team to use.
Share an example of a problem/challenge that your Department encountered and how you solved it. One of the parts that Team 1 Plastics makes for its customer, Tokai Rika, is a lens. There are four variations of the lens, and they all have gate cuts. (Excess material is cut off of the part by an automated tool after it is extracted from the injection molding press.) Gate cuts are required for many of the parts that Team 1 produces. However, Sanford explained, these gate cuts were unique. “The gate cuts were on angles. Each one was a little bit different.”
He said that they tried many different cutting fixtures to get the cuts done correctly. Some of the cutting fixtures seemed to be successful during testing, and so they scheduled some production runs. The preliminary results looked good, and the parts were sent to the Sorting team for final inspection where, unfortunately, they continued to find defects with the gate cuts. Time after time, Team 1 thought they had solved this problem and would communicate that to the customer. However, the problem would reappear. Sanford noted, “It was never the whole lot of the parts that were failing. We would do a 10,000-piece run, and they would find 10 to 20 defective gate cuts.”
It was Jadon Austin, a member of Team 1’s Maintenance Department, who came up with the solution. He had an idea for a new design of a cutting fixture. After reviewing and assessing the idea, the company gave Jadon the approval to build the fixture.
The fixture worked, but after the seemingly success of the other fixtures the company had tried, there was cautious optimism. “We wanted to make sure that it really was going to be effective and wasn’t just a fluke that it worked for the first couple of runs,” Sanford said.
However, the fixture continues to be successful. “It looks like we have a bullet-proof solution to it. It’s been in place on two of the lenses so far, and it’s still defect free.” He added, “And now Jadon is building an additional fixture for the other two lenses. Hats off to Jadon for his design. He did a great job with it. He’s really good at what he does.”
What is One Noteworthy Accomplishment by your Department in the recent past? Sanford shared two noteworthy accomplishments by the Quality Department. The first was the dramatic reduction of internal sorting in the last two years.
When a new part goes into production, Team 1 Plastics manually sorts each of the parts after the first three production runs. Providing that those sorts are defect free, the product is released for mass production. With most parts, there is not a plan for additional sorting during the life of the program. However, if a defect is found by the Quality Department or by the customer, the part must be sent into containment and manually sorted, adding unplanned cost and time to the job.
Reducing the cost of sorting became a major focus of emphasis for Team 1 Plastics two years ago. Sanford said that the Sort Team used to be the department with the most Team Members – even larger than the Production Team. “We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in sorting.”
Through the use of problem solving and corrective action as well as through schedule and capacity planning, the company has cut its sort costs by about 50%.
The other noteworthy accomplishment is the reduction of customer claims of defective parts. The company tracks the number of claims each year. Sanford said that at the highest, there were about 130 different claims in a year. “Last year was the best year we have had on record. We ended the year with 32.” He added that 2018 “could be another really great year” because the number of claims for the year currently stands at 20.
What are the Current Goals for your Department? Even though customer claims are at an all-time low, there are still customer claims – although Sanford doesn’t really believe that they will ever be completely eliminated due to the sheer volume of parts that Team 1 produces. However, he does have a goal “to go at least one month without any customer claims.” And, he would like to continue to reduce the amount of internal sorting. “We still do a fair amount of that – a lot less than we used to – but there’s still a lot out there. There’s still a lot of room for improvement.”
What does your Department take pride in? Sanford said, “We’ve got a good staff. They all take pride in their day-to-day work and the overall performance of the Quality Department as a whole. When they get to see some of our metrics – our sort reduction, customer claims at an all-time low, shipping on time at a high percentage – they really feel that they’ve played a part in that success.”
Department’s Random Poll: Have you ever been so annoyed by something you saw on TV that you threw something at the TV?
Yes, it was fun
Yes, and I broke it (Sigh)
7 No, I’m a Cool Cat
No, but I’ve REALLY wanted to!
The consensus was that each member of the Quality Department is a “Cool Cat.” But, what they really wanted to answer was “NO — You’re not throwing anything at my TV!”