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News - 02 April, 2018

Working together on structural solutions

Since June last year, Voortman Steel Machinery has a department for Quality Management. But what does this department do? And why was it necessary to create a department for quality? Mari Steinhage and Ron Visser explain the importance of ‘their’ department. Both men are quite new within Voortman Steel Machinery, so we start with an introduction. Mari works as a Quality Manager since January 1st, 2018. “My previous job was in quality control, but machine construction is new to me.  At the same time: quality remains quality.” Ron joined Voortman for his graduation project. “Since September 1st I am officially working at VSM as a Change Coordinator. As a non-engineer, I am supervising the modifications.” The choice for VSM was an easy one. “I enjoy working here, I am given freedom within my job and don’t forget the nice colleagues and the table tennis!”


The objective of colleagues Mari, Ron and Arjan Averesch, is mainly to create more structure and tranquility in the different processes, and thereby within the organization. “Before, people were often trying to solve their problems within their own department. Now we are searching for the fundamental cause and deal with it together. Moreover, wehave created a platform where we do not only listen to the problem, but also solve it”, according to an enthusiastic Ron. Both men agree that the results are already showing. “The points are becoming smaller, we are looking at the details, instead of the overall picture. The processes are becoming more structured and therefore run more and more smoothly.”


Mari points out the importance of a plan. “We make things clear, also during meetings. We try to set the objective, instead of a number of loose points. This objective is then divided into, for example, weekly actions which are followed up.” Before, the approach was mainly by customer and by project, but the team is now more and more focusing on the process. “We want to structure the processes in order to clarify them.” Ron: “In the last years, there were more and more new people and new processes. Before, everyone knew who was doing what, but because of the growth, this was no longer evident.” Mari adds: “During meetings, we have already created quite some calmness. Now, it is the turn of the rest of the factory. We identify the processes and after that, we will further standardize the checks and work instructions.”


A good example of such an adjustment is the Factory Acceptance Test (FAT). Ron: “A FAT is in fact a simple beginning. Can the machine be switched on and off? Are all parts there? Check!” But to the Quality Department, this is not enough. “We want the FAT to be substantiated. That the critical issues in the process are known beforehand and therefore are checked.” In the end, the customer is of course the main factor. The goal is and will be that he looks back on the cooperation with satisfaction. “We check a lot of things in advance here in the workshop, so that we are not faced with surprises during installation on site”, Ron explains. Mari comes back to the aforementioned adjustments. “We should not react to mistakes, but check the machine beforehand on fixed and specific items.” He explains this with the following example: “When the procedure says “all bolts” should be secured, in fact you still know nothing. But when it says “check the 6 bolts”, it is much more specific.”


An important tool for this quality control is 8D. Ron smiles: “Meanwhile, it has become a term: ‘let’s apply an 8D to it’. But if you want to deal with it properly, it is a bit more than that.” 8D is a tool, consisting of 8 steps, to tackle problems in a structured way. The objective of 8D, the Quality Department and the new way of working can be summarized in one sentence: ‘Do you persist in putting plasters, or will you prevent the cut?’ And with that last option, the quality department has already made a good start this year. “In the end our work is just bringing together the right people, determine the root cause of incidents and improve them structurally from there.”