Testing and Homologation: 'Make or Break' for Firms

Certain Indian cars have reportedly failed to comply with the standards of crash test conducted by Global New Car Assessment Programme (GNCAP). Suzuki of Japan disclosed that its testing method did not comply with Japanese regulations but the results are not materially impacted. Mitsubishi of Japan admitted that it had been manipulating the fuel economy record of its automobile models for several years, a news which caused a serious erosion of its market capitalization. These follow the infamous Volkswagen emission scandal that came to light in February 2015 involving tampering with of the software code of engines fitted on millions of cars to show the vehicles to be in compliance of regulatory standards. A few other manufacturers are reportedly involved in such errors, discrepancies, or manipulations.

These high-visibility cover-ups pertaining to product quality come on top of several recalls that have been prominent in the automobile industry, covering both vehicle manufacturers and component makers. Automotive manufacturers including the Big 3 of USA and other European makers were beset by problems of quality and noncompliance since the 1940s. India had its own incident when Standard Motor had to close shop in late 1980s as a result of alleged violation of fuel efficiency norms and concessional customs duties. Flouting of governmental regulations or own claims is by no means confined only to automobile industry. These incidents which make or mar not merely reputation but even the very existence of a company bring out the importance of testing and homologation in industries.

For more...http://cbrao2008.blogspot.in/2016/05/testing-and-homologation-make-or-break.html

Reducing Fallibility in Business: The Case for Managerial Poka-yoke

Technical or shop floor poka-yoke has become a standard feature of industrial and process design, and in product assembly. In manufacturing, 'go/no go gauges' have been the earliest check points to determine if a component has been produced right. For assembly, colour coding of matching parts has been the simplest method to achieve the right assembly. Machining centres which manufacture different sizes of components are equipped with transportation chutes that automatically segregate components of different sizes and reject wrong pieces. As processes became more complex, sophisticated poka-yoke accessories such as automated weight checking, electronic profile checking, and digital visual inspection have become the order of the day. Components are themselves designed in such a manner that they can be assembled only in one right manner. All this is made possible by the binary nature of technical matters, right or wrong, with respect to specifications.

In terms of managerial processes and decisions, however, poka-yoke has had very little application. In fact, the fallibility of processes, unpredictability of outcomes, and inevitability of failures are often seen to be the characteristics of managerial processes. Swami Vivekananda is reported to have said "Take risks in your life. If you win, you can lead! If you lose, you can guide!" A more contemporary quote, in fact a tweet, says "A 90% chance of failure sounds pretty bad. But a 10% chance of changing the world seems like a pretty good deal." Management and leadership rewards risk-taking and failures as long as these lead to learning and failures. Clearly, there is a huge, and well-accepted, perception difference between technical matters and managerial matters that accepts certain loss and inefficiency in managerial processes. This, in turn, leads to creeping ineptitude in management and leadership processes. Managerial poka-yoke is a much-needed solution.

For more...http://cbrao2008.blogspot.in/2013/04/reducing-fallibility-in-business-case_5247.html

Toyota on Test: Lessons for the Rest

Toyota is a role model in engineering and manufacturing as well as quality. Over the years, Toyota built a seemingly impeccable reputation around its quality. Toyota Production System (TPS) and Quality Circles helped Toyota build quality in its manufacturing. Since 1951, when Toyota introduced its famed suggestion scheme, thousands of suggestions helped the company to institutionalize "kaizen" (continuous improvement) and raise quality and productivity standards. Toyota was one of the first to win the Deming Prize for quality control in 1965. Toyota's in-house quality initiatives and positive association with Deming quality standards led other manufacturers view Toyota's quality movement as important as TPS in keeping Toyota at the top of the quality curve.

As Toyota has grown into a powerhouse of the auto industry over the last decade, it has built up in the US a vast complex of engineering centres, test tracks, financial arms, sales offices, and manufacturing plants that spread from California to New York, spilling over into Canada and Mexico as well. The complicated tasks of gathering information about incidents, analysing problems and providing engineering fixes, as well as reporting the issues to federal safety regulators, were handled by different Toyota subsidiaries, each managed separately in many cases from Japan. This reported analysis, if correct, provides an instructive insight that a structural solution in terms of tightly controlled subsidiaries by itself does not help. Meaningful processes for management of parent–subsidiary structures relevant to local needs and capabilities are required.

For more...http://cbrao2008.blogspot.in/2010/03/toyota-on-test-lessons-for-rest.html