UMASS CMP PROGRAM HELPS GREENFIELD MANUFACTURER MEET TOUGH EUROPEAN TRADE STANDARDSThe phone call from the Center for Manufacturing Productivity (CMP) came in April of 1993, yet duMont Corporation President Peter Elliott remembers it as though he received it last week.
"To me, the call sounded like a voice from heaven." Elliott said. "it offered us a way to meet one of the most important challenges facing American manufacturers."
The UMASS-based CMP was contacting the Greenfield manufacturer to invite its participation in a new training program for companies seeking to complete the tough registration procedures for European ISO 9000 Quality Management System Standards. Documentation of compliance to the detailed International Organization for Standardization quality assurance guidelines is not a legal requirement for export to Europe, yet most European purchasers and some American and Asian buyers consider it a perquisite to doing business.
A quarter of duMont's business is overseas, and management at the stock and custom industrial broach manufacturer viewed certification as a necessity. The intensive program, Moving Massachusetts Ahead: An Integrated Framework Towards ISO 9000, features workshops by experts from the British Standards Institute (BSi), a world-renown institution in the forefront of creating the ISO standards. It also provides support from UMASS engineering and management faculty.
Elliott, who said he already was seeking a "jump start" towards ISO certification, signed duMont up for the training that day.
THE FAST TRACKThe CMP summer program not only jump started duMont's ISO preparation efforts, Elliott said, it also put his company on the fast track to completing registration procedures. Most manufacturers take from a year and a half to two years to become ISO certified: duMont was granted certification in July of 1994, a little more than a year after starting the CMP program.
Alternative means of obtaining certification -- dedicating more duMont management time or hiring private consuttants -- would have taken longer, at up to five times the expense of the CMP training, he added.
The CMP program combines the resources and expertise of UMASS engineering and management programs with BSi's internationally- acclaimed training. The duMont Corp. was one of eight companies that completed the initial training; In the summer of 1994, six additional manufacturers participated in a second series of CMP-sponsored ISO training events. The demand for the program is growing, according to CMP advisor Anthony Butterfield, a professor in the School of Management, and new certification "classes" for Massachusetts manufacturing managers will start the training every April.
WORLD CLASS EXPERTISE FOR LOCAL INDUSTRY"We made a policy decision to go all out on this program, that it was crucial to offer local industry world-class assistance and expertise," Butterfield said.
The rigorous program curriculum offers sessions with BSi trainers ond CMP faculty for top and middle management, as well as for quality control personnel. The training workshops start with an overview of ISO 9000 and cover the details of quality documentation, including ISO guidelines and terminology, auditing procedures, document preparation, and the control and recording of work procedures.
The program also involves UMASS undergraduate management students. Each participating company hires one student to work full-time in quality program development, from June through August. UMASS Faculty visit participating businesses to advise management and to assess the implementation of completed quality systems. Once appropriate quality assurance procedures are developed and operable at a company, BSi consultants and UMASS faculty evaluate them by providing a comprehensive on-site "health check."
"The program offers a fast track to implementation for two reasons," said Butterfield. "One, it's intensive. Two, it breaks quality system development into manageable pieces, over the course of the summer. Participants leave each training workshop with tasks to complete before the next training session. The health check assesses the system and offers suggestions for improving it and implementing it in the coming months."
CONTAINING A "BIG BAD MONSTER"At duMont, the task of overseeing ISO quality system development fell to Bill Dufraine. In addition to his job as Quality Manager, DuFraine also serves as manager of distributor sales. To the already-busy manager, complying with ISO standards initially promised to be a "monster" of a job.
"It seemed as though there was too much literature and detail to keep track of," he remembered. "The CMP seminars we attended helped put it all in perspective. I could see that the ISO standards were not such a big, bad monster."
DuFraine realized early-on in the training process that his company did not have to create a new Quality Management System so much as it needed to "codify" existing quality assurance techniques and documentation systems to meet ISO requirements.
"The workshops gave us the framework we needed to conform to ISO standards," he elaborated. "They described the general ISO quality assurance processes and helped us apply these to our manufacturing applications. We participated in intense question and answer sessions and simulation exercises that also helped push us along."
The duMont Quality Management System was refined over the summer. Company President Elliott (who had attended training sessions for executives) wrote a manual that provided an overview of the company's quality control program. With oversight from Dufraine, the student employee from UMASS, Jason Reed, compiled a manual that described the detailed procedures duMont personnel needed to follow to adequately document quality control. Routing procedures, work instruction sheets and various set-up and manufacturing documentation procedures were modified and introduced to the factory's 30-person work force.
And once a week or every other week, UMASS management professor Iqbal Ali visited the factory to assess duMont's progress, acting as a devil's advocate and examining quality management procedures.
EXTENDED BENEFITSAccording to Dufraine, the CMP program ultimately helped the company to create a system of procedures that generates benefits beyond the quality assurance area. "Instead of simply completing paperwork for ISO, we're developing ways of better meeting the company's general, day-to-day needs," he observed. "We're not serving ISO -- the ISO procedures are serving us."
The company was granted certification exactly a year and two weeks after the day its managers attended their first training lecture. The day after receiving their approval, duMont sent out an international mailing announcing the achievement. Ten days later, a European company sponded with an inquiry.
"In the marketplace, both here and in Europe, the ISO seal of approval is being touted as the latest and greatest innovation," Dufraine concluded. "And it's true; gaining certification definitely sharpens our competitive edge. The CMP program gave us the training, oversight and structure we needed to gain certification, without putting too many demands on our time or resources."
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