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Hank Kolb Case Study Essay

Quality, or lack of, is the result of many decisions made by many people over a long period of time. The Hank Kolb case quality problems all point to one fundamental problem, management. There are four special cause variations in a quality process: man, machine, materials and method. The Hank Kolb case has issues in each of these four fields and this case analysis will examine the issues within the four cause variations and show how they all point to management as the main perpetrator of poor quality.

Recommendations, both short and long term approaches, will be outlined to help management create a quality product and work environment in each of the four fields. The “man” root cause of poor quality is seen in the lack of training and poor attitudes of workers. Training is not a prerequisite to individuals moving into new positions. This creates under-qualified people in skilled labor roles. The attitude of the workers considers quality as a topic that burdens and impedes people from doing their jobs.

Issues with the “machine” aspect are an improper maintenance process and the machine used for something it is not designed to do. With no scheduled preventative maintenance, nonstandard downtime was running at 15% of actual running time and repairs had been made twice a month for the last six months. Keeping the machinery in top-running condition has not been a priority and its’ effects have been felt down the line with over-pressurized cans. The plastic nozzle heads were often found with burrs on the inside rim.

This forced the company to increase the application pressure at the filling head to solve this problem. Quality is being affected within the “materials” variable. Finally, there are numerous problems identified within the “methods” cause variation. There is lack of policy and procedure. Examples of this are completing inspections after the fact and not having any feed-back loops. Not having equipment maintenance records is another example of the lack of methods that have added to the overall lack of quality.

These four special cause variations can be visualized in a fishbone diagram (appendix 1) to show the cause/ effect relations of quality problems. Each special cause variation points to poor management as the fundamental problem in this case. This is exacerbated as the company puts market share and schedule above quality and safety. To create a solution to the quality problem, Hank will need to first deal with managerial support and attitude. Hank should create a company-wide quality policy that is actively backed by senior management.

Then, a training program should be initiated for all skilled labor and supervisory positions. Next, start collecting data on how and why the machinery is breaking down. Soon after, Hank should do a cost benefit analysis to see if upgrading the machinery will boost production of the Greasex product. Hank needs to be aggressive with the nozzle supplier to demand greater quality. Finally, all policies and procedures will need to be created and implemented with quality at the forefront of every concept.


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