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Industrial Products Plant’s Quality Assurance


Hank Kolb is a director–quality assurance at the industrial products plant. He was hired to help the organization but soon realized that the personnel do not believe the quality to be really important for the organization, as they never treat it seriously. Still, Hank wants a challenge, which requires much affords, as he should start solving issues with personnel and equipment, and then deal with materials and procedure. Then, Hank will only need to monitor the situation in the organization and make sure that the staff treats quality decently.

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Executive Summary

Hank Kolb is a director–quality assurance at the industrial products plant. He was hired to help the organization but soon realized that the personnel does not believe the quality to be really important for the organization, as they never treat it seriously. Suppliers provide the plant with defective materials, but the managers are just planning to talk with them. Produced products do not meet the standards but it is not controlled, and the employees are more concerned about their quantity.

It leads to rush orders, working with which, the staff fails to perform efficiently. The equipment is used not for the purposes it should, and the personnel is not trained to utilize it in a right manner. As a result, the safety of the working environment is questioned, and low-quality products are produced. Still, Hank wants a challenge, which requires much affords.

Being concerned that the quality department is turned into a joke, Hank decided to have a conversation with several employees to get to know what are the problems connected with the quality but ignored by the staff. He found out that the issues with suppliers, methods and procedure, equipment, discharge of duties, and safety exist. Still, a more thorough investigation showed that they all are caused by the reluctance of senior management team to consider the importance of quality and share this view with all other employees. Thus, Hank should start solving issues with personnel and equipment, and then deal with materials and procedure.

He should recommend the company to start his change with senior management and make them believe in the significance of the quality. Then, Hank should prepare an awareness program to make all workers share such view. He should discuss the efficiency of the produced product with the management team to enhance its quality and satisfy more clients. Finally, he should implement a quality system to support achievements and keep improving the situation. Of course, he should monitor it from time to time to make sure that everything is proceeding according to plan.

Issue Identification

According to Hank’s observations and information gained from the conversations with other employees, it can be claimed that the organization is facing such problems connected with the quality:

  • Suppliers. The plastic nozzle heads that the plant purchases are of low quality. As a result, they often have slight burrs, which requires additional adjustment.
  • Methods and procedure:
    • Design procedure is not well-organized as there are “no test of the effects of the contoured can on filling speed or filling hydrodynamics from a high-pressured filling head” (Leonard, 1993, p. 2).
    • Evaluation procedure is not appropriate, as only the quality of the product is taken into consideration.
    • Problems with marketing procedure are caused by the acceptance of untested cans. Senior managers believe that it is critical to get the product out and receive profit while quality can be neglected.

Thus, the personnel believes that quality is not critical for the company, and products are not decent. There is a possibility of facing customer dissatisfaction that will affect income adversely.

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  • Equipment. The filling equipment was brought to work with another product and is now used for the purposes it was not designed for. The machine that is actively used is not adjusted, which causes problems. Except for that, no preventive maintenance is scheduled. The equipment may be broken down so that new machine will be needed, which is rather costly.
  • Lack of efficient discharge of duties. The personnel is not offered any official training programs. New operator had to work without knowing how to work with the equipment and just received some help from the first-line supervisor. As a result, the employees do not know how to work with the equipment and performance worsens. Except for that, senior management team is treating quality as a joke and behaves as if it plays no role in the life of the organization. It puts a blind eye to all problems as far as they do not prevent having the product out. As a result, the workers share such views and do not try to enhance their performance, which worsens the situation.
  • Safety. The high pressure was identified in some cans. Even though the pressure was not extreme and the number of cans rejected was little, there is a possibility that such issue can happen again and be much more serious.

These events prove that the quality at the plant is not considered to be significant not only by the staff but also by senior management. They are even trying to make Hank disregard the issues that he mentions, which questions their decision to hire him.

Environmental and Root Cause Analysis

The industrial products plant faces numerous problems connected with the quality. However, the main one is poor management in the organization. It results in a range of issues that might be avoided if the personnel who has senior management positions worked decently. Of course, it cannot be denied that the fact that they addressed Hank proves their wish to alter the situation, but they were the ones who let it reach such a critical level.

For now, there are no policies that would emphasize the significance of the quality of work even though the plant operates for a long period of time and the employees would be encouraged to perform better in this way. The existing quality program lacks support and fails to meet the expectations of the managers. As a result, the staff tends to be more concerned about the delivery schedule. They demand market share while there is no safety environment at the plant. The workers do not believe quality to be significant and think that it is a normal attitude towards it. They even see it as impedance that prevents them from doing their job.

Still, it is not a surprise, as there is no training, during which new employees would receive the knowledge required for their profession. Unqualified people would be unable to satisfy quality managers even if they tried to perform better. At the long last, inefficient management led to a range of other problems listed in the previous section. They all can be gathered into four groups on the basis of the things that caused them:

  1. Personnel: 1,200 people are working in the organization and sharing the views of the senior management towards the importance of the quality. They are not prepared to work efficiently and solve the problems that occur and ignore them instead. Such approach will lead to critical outcomes with the course of time. This problem should be the first to solve as no other changes will improve the situation when the employees remain the same.
  2. Equipment: the problems with the filling equipment resulted in 12 work orders for repairs or adjustments only in one month. About 14 cases of pressuring beyond the limit are noticed each shift. 50% of standard is produced due to the problems with machinery. When the employees receive required knowledge, they will try to make high-products, which would be impossible when the equipment is not working decently.
  3. Materials: adjustment is often needed because of the materials that are supplied. They are of poor quality and often come with burrs. As efficient employees can deal with this problem, it is not of the first priority. Still, it is critical to talk with the suppliers and change them if better materials do not come.
  4. Procedure: finally, the process of production should be taken under control. The employees will be ready to undertake needed responsibilities, and new equipment along with appropriate materials will allow to provide decent products of needed amount, reduce costs, and avoid rush orders that affect the quality adversely.

Alternatives and Options

In the situation that occurred, the company can perform different actions to improve the situation. Still, as senior management does not believe in the criticality of quality, it may be reluctant to do anything. Taking this into consideration, Hank should propose a list of choices for the seniors to decide whether they want to support a change or not. Thus, they can:

  • reject Hank’s ideas and stay focused on the quantity of their product. No alterations are needed, which seems to be positive for the staff but the market demand is little, and the issues will not be solved.
  • wait for the situation to become more stable so that they will see what will be better to do. The sense of future improvement is created, but no short run issues are considered.
  • conduct a make or buy analysis to see if they should reduce the production. The needed amount of high-quality product can be produced, but it is a time-consuming task that is not solving immediate problems (Balakrishnan & Chun, 2005).
  • hire full-time staff to adjust the equipment to prevent breakdowns. There will be no problems with the filling machine, but it may not be profitable to have such team all the time.
  • gather some information on why and how the breaks occur. The problems with equipment will be solved but some time will be needed to conduct research and solve the issues found. Moreover, it is critical to focus on future decisions.
  • improve their design, evaluation, and marketing procedure, putting the focus on quality and offer a training program. A number of issues related to methods and procedure will be solved, and a needed amount of high-quality product will be produced. The employees will become skillful and efficient. Still, this change is time-consuming and requires unexpected financial support.
  • consider if the current product allows the company to achieve its goals. This step allows the company to evaluate the current situation to see what solutions are needed. Still, it questions all maintained operations.
  • conduct a cost/benefit analysis to see if it would be beneficial to allocate funds for better equipment. The organization will make a balanced decision about the equipment, but the process will take a long.
  • start the change with senior management, spread the value of quality, and implement a quality system. The quality philosophy will be accepted by the organization (Quality management systems, n.d.). Still, this change is fundamental and may face resistance.


On the basis of the previously discussed information, it can be claimed that Hank should start his change with senior management. His main task is to make this team undertake a quality philosophy. Realizing the significance of the quality for the whole organization and its employees, the professionals who hold senior management positions will be likely to provide visible support for quality and emphasize its necessity so that the workers will share such views and allow them to spread across the company. As a result, all employees will make sure that they provide high-quality products and discharge their duties efficiently (Torben, 2014).

In order to reach such goals, Hank is expected to develop an awareness program. It will be a part management support as their purposes are similar. The program should be targeted at making the staff realize how their company can be affected by poor quality and what losses it may suffer. At the same time, the value of high quality will be emphasized and the benefits it provides, described.

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Only after making all representatives of the company’s workforce aware of the necessity to promote and support good quality, Hank should proceed to deal with the problems that require immediate solutions and getting things under control. In order to deal with these short run issues, he should try to find out what is wrong with the equipment. There is a possibility that the main problem is in the staff but not in the machine itself.

In fact, not many employees are needed to make it run without breakdowns. As this problem is often observed, it may be caused by the lack of required skills. To make sure what happens, Hank should gather some information on why and how the break occurs.

Then, Hank should have a conversation with senior management. His task is to make sure that the product allows the company to achieve its aims and facilitate structured decision-making. For such purpose, he can conduct a make or buy analysis.

When everything is considered, Hank should make sure that the change he implemented will last for a long time and will not be neglected soon. Thus, he can implement a quality system that will focus on policies and processes. ISO 9000 can be used, as it allows to consider organization’s procedures, taking into account standards that are widely recognized (Benefits of ISO 9000, 2016). Then, Hank will only need to monitor the situation in the organization and make sure that the staff treats quality decently.


What Who When
spread the value of quality quality assurance director senior management 1
no alterations will be successful if the personnel neglects the value of quality
find out why the equipment breaks down maintenance personnel 2
unadjusted equipment will prevent the company from producing high-quality products. If it would turn out that the problem is in personnel, training can be offered then
consider if the current product allows the company to achieve its goals senior management 3
strategic goals of the organization are to be considered to make sure that current product and operations are appropriate and will not lead to the failure
conduct a make or buy analysis project management 4
the problem with suppliers exists so the company should consider if it would be better to take everything in their hands
implement a quality system quality assurance director senior management 5
the final step is to make sure that the implemented change brought positive alterations and will be caught on

Monitor and Control

When all implementations are made, and the main issues are already addressed, the company should pay attention to the positive growth that entailed them. Thus, it is critical to record the data and evaluate the situation again with the course of time to be aware of the business changes. Such procedures should be conducted at high levels so that detailed and authoritative information can be gained and the organization can make sure that improved performance will be continued.

Monitor and control processes are expected to have particular standards so that they can be easily evaluated and all possible biases can be avoided. Personnel training programs are also considered at this stage, as it provides an opportunity to maintain high standards. A monitoring system and response unit should be implemented to deal with potential problems. As a result, Hank will be able to avoid the problems the company faced, and the staff will be prepared to work with the equipment. To be sure that everything goes according to plan, Hank should consider such performance metrics as:

  • Amount of engineering changes;
  • Amount of process changes;
  • Percent of employees with improved performance;
  • Amount of errors and issues that happen because of the staff;
  • Amount of defected product;
  • Amount of equipment breakdowns;
  • Time to identify and solve issues;
  • Amount of complaints from employees;
  • Percent of improvement in production;
  • Percent of issues found during the evaluation;
  • Amount of requests for equipment adjustment;
  • Amount of issues caused by purchased material;
  • Percent of product that satisfies clients;
  • Amount of clients’ complaints (Sample quality assurance performance measures, 2015).


Balakrishnan, J., & Chun H. (2005). The theory of constraints and the make-or-buy decision. Journal of Supply Chain Management: A Global Review of Purchasing & Supply 41(1), 40–47.

Benefits of ISO 9000. (2016). Web.

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Leonard, F. (1993). Hank Kolb, director, quality assurance. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing.

Quality management systems. (n.d.). Web.

Sample quality assurance performance measures. (2015). Web.

Torben, R. (2014). Organizational change initiatives fail at an alarming rate. Web.

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