The CEO sends you, the operations manager, a memo that customer  complaints are up the past couple of months, and her directions are,  “check into where quality is breaking down and tell me how we can fix  it.”

You start your investigation by speaking to customer services, and  they say customers are complaining that stitching is unraveling around  the sleeves and bottoms of “The Beast”, your company’s top of the line  athletic t-shirt marketed to high schools and colleges for their men’s  and women’s competitive sports teams.   The chief of customer service  tells you, “these t-shirts are worn every day in practice and they go  through a lot of washings…the teams are really rough on them.”  He  provides you with the specific orders and production lot #s for the  majority of the defects.  You ask to see samples of defective t-shirts  returned by customers and you notice the thread weight is way too light  for “The Beast”.   The thread in the defects is used on low-end casual  t-shirts, and would not withstand the harsh abuse of competitive sports  teams.

As you delve into the production lot #s provided, you find most of  the defective shirts are being stitched on the grave yard shift (10pm –  6am).  Then you remember back to the days when you were production  manager on the grave yard shift and start asking yourself, “what  processes could be breaking down on that shift to cause the problem?”   Then it comes to you; swing shift (2 – 10pm) is responsible for  positioning precut t-shirt fabric and bulk thread for sewing on the  grave yard shift because “grave yards” only has one forklift operator  and “swings” has three, so the fabric and bulk thread required by grave  yards has to be in place when swings leaves.

You talk to the grave yard shift production supervisor, and he says,  “most of the time swings prepositions enough fabric and bulk thread for  our production run that night, but occasionally they short us fabric or  bulk thread so I have my forklift driver get some from stock.”  Your gut  sinks because you know the fork lift driver probably does not know “The  Beast” shirt requires the heaviest thread in the warehouse.

Are you starting to “put two and two together”?  Yes, the forklift  driver was pulling the wrong thread from the warehouse, and since he was  doing this toward the end of the shift it was not being caught by the  sewing machine operator.  As a result, the wrong thread was being used  to stitch some of the shirts.  In the assignments below, students get  the opportunity to explore quality issues in organizations, conduct  analysis of data to determine if quality is being compromised, and then  formulate recommendations to improve quality in a process.

Unit Learning Outcomes

  1. Formulate a plan to manage quality in an organization’s products and  services, and incorporate quality improvement. (CLO 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and  7)
  2. Prepare a Pareto diagram for evaluating quality improvement measures into an organization. (CLO 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6)
  3. Identify whether quality management metrics are adequate to ensure organizational goals are met. (CLO 1, 4 and 7)
  4. Develop a data collection plan that will permit the appropriate  application of statistical process control (SPC) to investigate  inefficiencies and or ineffective processes. (CLO 3 and 4)
  5. Calculate critical inventory management metrics such as economic  order quantity and economic production quantity. (CLO 2, 4, and 5)
 
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