Q&A with David O’Conner, Estes’ New Quality Manager
Q: How are you working to move towards a preventative process from a corrective process, as it relates to quality control?
A: One immediate example that I could cite would be to constantly strive to be proactive instead of reactive to situations. Additional process controls and measurements are often the only means available to you as an organization after a problem occurs. Estes is working towards creating processes that anticipate potential problematic issues and have preventative measures designed in to the process in order to minimize or virtually eliminate the potential for the error to occur.
Q: What processes are you implementing to help understand the root causes of any defects?
A: I believe that the effective use of Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) tools are the most consistently effective means for the prevention of subsequent process failures. Due diligence in the production of an FMEA can usually predict a problem long before the issue surfaces and allow you to adjust your process or process controls effectively. To this end, I am focusing a good deal of my time to the effective use and implementation of FMEA tools wherever feasible for our customers.
Q: How are you training people to follow this process?
A: My focus is on training people to use FMEA tools and influencing them to think outside the box and always ask the question, “What if…” Predicting some issues in a process is quite easy and often does not require a root cause analysis…you know why the issue happened (you’ve likely identified the issue on your FMEA). On the other hand, some issues become apparent only after the process is in operation and root cause analysis becomes necessary, and you are forced to be reactive instead of having proactively eliminated the potential for the error to occur beforehand.
Q: Compared to other companies, how would you say Estes compares in terms of lean efforts and quality control?
A: I think that Estes is constantly working towards eliminating non-value added activities. A concerted effort by executive management has provided a resolute atmosphere to all for the elimination of those activities which produce no value for the customer or Estes, but add cost (e.g. scrap, rework, unnecessary operations, etc.). In addition, I am proud that Estes continues to make great strides for improving its cost of quality and efficiencies by constantly striving to enhance its technology through capital investments in new equipment, continuous improvements and by streamlining processes wherever possible.