scratches on the iPhone 5

How important is a small scratch on an iPhone? In our class, one topic that interested me was product quality and its many definitions, dimensions, and quality systems. Through vacation trips and experiences around the world, I have obtained all kinds of products not knowing much about quality comparisons. I did not realize that there was a quality system like ISO 9000 that companies acquired. Learning this will help me better examine products before making the purchase.

On, there was an article that talked about the struggles in quality control. Thousands of workers for the production of iPhone 5 strike over workload and pressure. China Labor Watch claims that those on strike are mostly from the “onsite quality control” line. Workers not only have regular long hours but they need to work on holidays as well. On top of this, the precision and demand of product quality has pushed workers too far. Indentation standards are 0.02mm and workers did not have training for corresponding skills making it extremely hard for employees to meet the standards. Fights have started causing several quality control inspectors to be hospitalized.

Learning from the puppet production, the number of defects is high when you do not regulate and check on each worker. In my opinion, to ensure that every customer receives a product with no defects, standards need to be set high. I think it is reasonable for indentation standards to be 0.02mm. Do you think these standards are set too high? What do you think about this strike?

Keeping up With Quality

As we discussed in our previous classes, we have discussed that an organization must always continually collect data in order to keep control of their processes. However, how exactly does an organization take control of a process that may need improvement or otherwise a routine check-up? Keeping up with a process that your organization has may be a daunting task due to the fact that the organization already has so many tasks and duties to keep up with. As the article explains, one must “look closely as to how you’re collecting data”. Machine, Part and Shift data are all very important aspects as far as collecting data goes but what exactly do these mean and how are they relevant to your organization?

Machine Data

  • As the article explains, there may be a machine that will be ultimately responsible for quality criteria. Being able to identify where exactly the data came from by identifying the machine is an excellent way of identifying quality errors and could help to finding the problem of quality criteria failures. Instead of giving the whole overall process such as “Line 1”, you can specifically assign the work line from “Line 1” to “Machine 1” and could help to easily identify where exactly a certain product may have come from or where the problem may have came from.

Part Data

  • Part data refers to the manner in which you may collect data. Most people may collect data in “parts” and therefore may not have the biggest organizational picture. As the article explains, one must go in to great detail and must expand their data collection when collecting their “samples” and “parts” of data to more closely represent the organization. A good source of collected data, can be better use for the organization and can help to provide a clearer picture.

Shift Data

  • A human component is always present as the article explains and a manager must be able to take account for the human aspect of any part of their aspect. One manner in which a manager can collect data is by looking at the different shifts and comparing to see how they are doing. Is the earlier shift producing more quality accepted products than the late night shift? If so, what can be done to fix it? etc. A good manager will always make sure to look at the organization at every part and not just as a whole

As we have explained in class, collecting data and being able to use data to better reflect and improve the organization can help to better overall total quality management. It may not be the employees or process that may need a check-up, but rather what is it that the manager can do to fix their process or better yet, what is it that they can do to improve it? How do you feel about having constant quality improvement even when the organization may not need it? Is it necessary to always “fix something that’s not broken”? How can one go in to more detail when collecting data?

New Honda, Perfect Fit or Flop?


Honda is rolling out a car that is specifically targeted toward women. The new Honda Fit She’s is currently available only in the Japanese market. This new car comes in a “pretty-in-pink” and “eyeliner brown” color. The decision to offer the car in the Japanese market was based on the country’s more sex-defined roles. As much as half of all Japanese women stay out of the workforce and those women who do, there is more of a divide in tastes than one might find in Western countries. The car offers features that include a special UV-blocking window glass so that women concerned about their skin don’t have to worry about wrinkles while driving, as well as, a “plasmacluster” climate control system the maker claims can improve skin quality.

U.S. and European auto industries are hesitant to release the vehicle into their respective markets because previously when manufacturers tried to target products directly to women this proved an unfavorable outcome for the auto industry.  Automakers are not necessarily ignoring the needs of women. Both Ford and General Motors, among others makers, consider features and attributes of new products looking for ways appeal to women and avoid aspects that men would notice.

Before the auto industry releases this vehicle into the U.S. market they must understand their customers. Applying Quality Function Deployment, women customers do not want to be a singled out market. Women’s needs can be satisfied by including features where men and women both benefit; for example, providing larger storage space to put purses or briefcases, and including a UV-blocking window glass in all cars because men need protection against skin cancer too. Outside of Japan, women car buyers want to be treated like “one of the guys.”

What sort of quality control should the U.S. adopt in order for this vehicle to be favorable among women? Do you think a car targeted toward women has the potential to be successful in the U.S.?

Beats for the boss, Beats or Bose?

With the ever expanding market for newly released electronics and the countless accessories released for the past, current and future versions of these products on the market, many companies are looking to develop the next new electronic out there for each company’s respective target market.  However, recently Beats headphones have expanded the current market to include business professionals and executives, stating that they, “…want something that goes a little better with [their] Brooks Brothers suit.”

At the price of almost $300, an executive comfortably sitting on a long flight, for example, now has a device that is “good for sound quality, noise canceling, and sturdiness.” However, the price for just the logo, a new design and an endorsement from Dr. Dre does not justify the high product cost. In fact, competition such as the makers of Bose headphones produce the same item, with very similar features that include noise cancellation, better sound quality, and sturdiness, amongst other feature around the same price. What’s the difference? Well, Bose products for one have been on the market a whole longer than the Beats counter part. Bose has also not specified their target market but generally targets the most avid music listeners and not just young urban music listeners. Ironically, what Bose did before Beats was to acquire more market share and sell their product to a larger target market rather than the narrow range of music listeners aquatinted to Dr. Dre’s music and subsequently the products of his business. Bose did this by having an entire audio line of high quality music accessories.

Evidently, it was in the best interest of Monster, the Beats headphone manufacturer, to have possibly taken the sales numbers of their competition, upon the release of their products, to generate forecasts. This could provide an idea to determine how the Beats headphone would fair in a market where the next new accessory with newer features, a sleek and stylish model and quality sounds would sell. If anything, Monster would have at least some data to predict sales trend lines and production forecasts to be as profitable and cost effective as possible.

What could have Beats audio done differently provided that they could access competitor statistics to generate their forecasts? Since both brands are in the audio industry and make very similar products, does the price reflect a mass manufacturing approach to their productivity for greater profits?

Wong, Vanessa. “Beats’ New Headphones Are for the Corner Office” 2012.  Bloomberg L.P. 18 Oct. 2012 <>

Too Little Too Late for Apple? Maybe Worse…

Amid the excitement and chaos surrounding the release of the iPhone 5, many customers noticed that there were some problems with their brand new devices. Issues ranged from strange noises coming from the device to “leaking light.” ‘Whenever a new product is released by any company, it is never going to be perfect the first time around. However  as we have seen with CEO Tim Cook, customer satisfaction is king.

When customers complained about the new “Maps” app that replaced the Google Maps app, Tim Cook wasted no time writing a letter apologizing to customers. So it makes sense that when customers complained about Apple’s newest release, the iPhone 5, Tim Cook called for stronger quality control. But was what he asked for too much?

At the Foxconn production plant, workers, many from the quality control section, have gone on strike. From the China Labor Watch, we hear, “factory management and Apple, despite design defects, raised strict quality demands on workers, including indentations standards of 0.02mm and demands related to scratches on frames and back covers. With such demands, employees could not even turn out iPhones that met the standard.” Obviously, when it becomes impossible to do your job, strike is imminent. These standards led to fights among workers and quality control inspectors which ultimately halted production at times. This will delay shipments for iPhones for weeks.

The question I raise is how important is quality control? In my opinion, if Apple had shown more care about the quality of the design in the first place, then perhaps Apple wouldn’t have had to raise their standards so high. If anything this whole ordeal shows the importance of quality control from the beginning. Apple was most likely relying on the strength of their brand name and felt that strong quality control was not as important as getting as many iPhones out in a short amount of time to meet the record setting demand. And maybe they were right. The iPhone 5 had one of the biggest releases in smart phone history. People camped out for days just to get their hands on one. And even though there have been numerous complaints about the design, many are still lining up to get the phone. The other day I went to the Apple store to get my phone (the 3Gs) repaired and asked about the iPhone 5 because I was thinking about purchasing one. They told me they were out and had no idea when the shipments were going to come in because the employee described the deliveries as “random.”

So back to my original question. How important is quality control? One piece of data that I would like to see is out of all these people who complained about the phone, how many actually returned the phone? Apple possesses one of the strongest brand names with large amounts of customer loyalty. I would also be interested to hear how many people would take an iPhone 5 now that leaks a little light than an iPhone 5 that is perfect in five weeks. I’m sure the data would shock us all as many people prefer immediate gratification as opposed to high quality.

I would like to hear your thoughts on whether you believe in the highest quality control standards in relation to the phone or whether you believe that Apple should start churning out these phones like hot cakes and drop the price.



Restaurant Management

My uncle runs a nice restaurant in Chicago. The restaurant has been expanded for twice in two years. Now the restaurant can contain more than more than 300 hundred people and still people are waiting in front of the restaurant waiting for the tables. I can not help wondering how a restaurant grows up so fast in such a competitive industry. After a long chat with my uncle, I find out managemt play the most important role in a restaurant.

I used to think that restraurants are just opening their doors waiting for customers. But in fact, if you want to make a restaurant popular, you have to be very serious about quality management. The reason people go out to eat are food and dining enviornment. The refer to the quality of food and quality of services and decoration. Since restaurants build their reputation on words of mouths, they have to keep customers’ satisfaction on both espects. To ensure the quality of food, a restaurant keep their eyes on the cooking materials, the skills of chefs, and the cleaness of the kitchen.In addition, the taste of dishes have to adjust based on customers’ needs. On the other hand, the quality of decoration and services can distiguish a restaurant from other competitors. With this idea in my uncle’s mind, he decided to employ designer to decorate his restaurant in traditional Chinese style. What’s more, he hired people to give his waiters and waitresses professional trainning because he thinks that every experience for customers is crucial and his employees should try their best to make the experience wonderful.

Another very important technique used in restaurant management is forcasting. Atucally, restaurant business is a very time sensitive industry. For example, in a day, 11 a.m to 2:p.m., 6p.m.-9 p.m. is a big rush time. In a weekend, Friday and Saturday would be very busy while Tuesday and Wednesday would be a little quite for restaurants. In a year, June to September would be the big time for people eating outside. Since food material is very time sensitive inventory, restaurant has to adjust supply orders according to forcast of demand and schedule for HR. Good forcasting can dramtically lower the cost of a restaurant and enhance its profitability.

I am sure there are more management skills that can be used in restaurant management, is there coming up to your mind?

Quality Control Testing; Methods That Don’t Work

“Study Suggests Raising the Bar for Olive Oil Quality Control”

Recently UC Davis conducted a study on the effectiveness of quality control tests for the commonly used food product Olive Oil. This seems like a small detail in food regulation and not something to think twice about, however the majority of oils sold to companies in the food-service industry was below standard. Researchers found that various brands of Olive Oils were able to pass the chemical tests that are used for quality control, however failed most sensory tests- done by blind tastings- where products were described as “rancid” and “musty.” Not necessarily the type of product you want to consume. Another fault that researchers discovered, was that most products did not list where or when the product was produced. This could lead to rotten oils or bad products being sold to consumers. Because of these results, researchers at UC Davis believe that quality testing of Olive Oils should be revised to create “more accurate and less expensive tests and to develop innovative packaging that will extend olive oil freshness” (

This article reminds me of Deming’s Red Bead Experiment which we performed last week in class. The Quality Control for the test required two “Inspectors” to count all of the red beads that were produced in each workers batch and then have a “Chief Inspector” verify these results and submit them to be recorded. While there were always some defects in the batches produced, nothing was ever done to correct the process by which the product was created. The researchers at UC Davis mentioned that about 10% of the oils tested were “adulterated” and made of other oils such as canola oil, instead of pure olive oil. While the article did not say how many of the products tested did not pass the chemical tests, I would think that there were defective products in most batches- especially in the modified oils- that did not pass the chemical tests. I wonder how many Olive Oil companies then changed their processes and how many maintained the old process, factoring in defects as an expected occurrence.

The manufacturing of Olive Oil relates well to Deming’s Experiment. These companies may not realize that their production processes are flawed and are solely relying on the feedback of basic chemical testing for quality assessment. Two of Deming’s Fourteen Points for a better organization are “Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality” and “Constantly and forever improve the system of production and service.” It seems that based on the research done by UC Davis, most of the Olive Oil industry needs to look at Deming’s philosophies and revise their thinking on quality and the processes in production, something most companies may need to review in their operations.

Can you think of any other companies that base their quality measurements on testing that may not be relevant to the actual quality of their product?

ISO 9000

I learned a variety of different topics in the second half of management 301, but the one that caught my eye the most was the idea of quality control and improvement. In particular, I related to ISO 9000 because of its personal relation to my own experiences. As I mentioned in my earlier blog post, I have no experience in actual managerial position where I’ve overseen supply chains and physical projects. I have however, experienced a wide variety of accounting projects and process improvement is one of the biggest things that managers are constantly on the look out for. The difference is that the customers we are trying to satisfy are not outside consumers, but rather ourselves.

ISO 9000 was interesting to me because the basic premise of process improvement was very similar to what I did in my last accounting internship. We were trying to improve a reconciliation process with all our international branches due to the fact that the current method was too time costly and slow. In order to improve it, we basically did what the ISO 9000 says to do.

1. Document your processes: We sat down with our superiors and meticulously traced our workflow from beginning to end. We then found areas that were redundant or extraneous and simplified them into single lumps. In other areas we completely cut out certain parts that we realized were not necessary.

2. Follow your documents: We then documented our new and improved process into an easy to understand work flow chart. I, as the intern, then did much of the leg work that would be needed to convert the old process to the new.

3. Be consistent: Finally, we jump started the new process into action. We were careful to make sure that the new process was as standardized as possible, so that random variability (such as different ways to categorize the same thing) was reduced close to zero.

4. Audit your results and improve your processes: After about a month, we did a quick audit to see where we stood. The members of the team had been writing down any errors or problems we had discovered over the course of the month and shared them with our superiors. The process was then further refined.

The end result was that what was normally a monstrous and time consuming reconciliation/international month end close was substantially stream lined. Many processes that were originally manually done had been transformed into quick, automatic updates by the computer.

It was interesting for me to learn that what I thought about as simply “process improvement” actually had a name like ISO 9000 (sounds like something from Space Odyssey).

Question: What process improvements have you made at your job?

Statistical Process Quality Control

The issue of quality control of goods and services produced by organizations is one of the most important to ensure the minimum acceptable quality of them. For tangible goods, like cars, tools, medical equipment, raw materials, processed foods, computers and other electronic equipment, appliances, medicines, etc.., statistical techniques are used for controlling the processes involved in the production of such goods.
These statistical techniques involve mainly issues related to probabilities, such as Control Chart (which uses the Central Limit Theory), Process Capability, and Acceptance Sampling.
In fact, all of them are of great practical use, because one way or another they allow establishing the minimum acceptable levels for the organization, of the quality of the goods they supply to consumers. Generally speaking, companies seek to produce goods of the highest quality to ensure good productivity over competitors. And the statistics techniques are very efficient for achieving this goal.
For example, when to setting limits using monitoring samples, it is very easy to understand what samples are out of control (Which ones of those samples fall outside the averages of the lower and upper limits Control). Once you have detected the samples averages that are out of the limits, you can conclude that the process is becoming erratic and is not in control. Therefore, you have to make decisions to correct the situation. Otherwise, the company could reduce its productivity and competitiveness, which can generate lower sales. Thus, net income could be reduced as well.
It is good to note that the statistical techniques used for quality control are quite flexible in its application. This means that the computations of some elements are a little difficult to calculate, or they are not available, like standard deviation process. Then, we turn to the determination of the control limits by calculating ranges instead of calculating the standard deviations.
Anyway, it is emphasized, the quality control of tangible is easier than that of services. When it comes to controlling the quality of services provided by organizations such as the health agencies, legal services, telecommunications, transportation of passengers and cargo, hotel services and tourism, the human component plays a very important role. This means that the skills and behavior of people are determining factors in the time that is required to provide services to consumers or users. As an example, assume the hosting services of a hotel where the receptionist is not polite with a customer, due to personal problems. Well, the hotel service quality is seriously affected, as quite possibly the customer could feel this is the kind of attention of all personnel of the entity.
So, the question that appears is this: How can Statistical Tools help organizations to control easier process services quality?

Want to Save Millions? Watch Your Milliliters.

In today’s fast-paced world, corporations cannot stress enough on quality. With increased globalization and the advent of the Internet and social media, people not only have more choices but they are also aware of those choices.

With the clutter of marketing messages consumers are exposed to on a daily basis, brand loyalty is becoming harder to build and maintain. If a customer today has a bad experience with a particular product, he or she is not only likely to switch to a competing brand, but can also be expected to share that unsatisfactory experience with friends, family and others on social networking sites.

Soft Drink Manufacturing Facility

Operations management plays a significant role in the maintenance of quality in an organization’s products and processes. One of the most popular methods for quality control is Statistical Process Control (SPC), an analytical decision-making tool that facilitates the monitoring and control of processes. It allows one to examine a process in order to detect any variation in it that might require correction.

For instance, at a soft drink manufacturing plant, SPC may be used in the production process in which the finished product is filled into PET bottles. The cola filled into a 500mL is hardly ever exactly 500 milliliters; it could be 500.04mL, 499.98mL, 499.93mL, etc. Statistical process control will use a sample of bottles filled at a particular plant to determine the variation in the average volume filled.

I came across a practical application of SPC during an internship at a global manufacturer of consumer goods. A Statistical Process Control analysis at a shampoo-manufacturing facility revealed that the liquid volume filled in 400mL-shampoo bottles was consistently ranging between 400.4mL and 400.9mL. Although this is even less than half a milliliter, a large company could have suffered significant unnecessary costs if consumers were constantly given more than 400mL shampoo in the long run.

Stages of Statistical Process Control

The management suspected that the volume irregularity was not due to a natural or common cause. Control charts constructed for the bottle-filling process confirmed this notion. The variation lay outside the control limits and was therefore due to an assignable cause not part of the original process design. It turned out that one of the levers in the filling machinery was not functioning correctly and allowed more liquid to enter the shampoo bottles than it was designed to fill. The SPC analysis consequently allowed us to identify this problem fairly early and re-calibrate the equipment before much money was lost.

An article by Manus Rungtusanatham in the Journal of Operations Management states that the benefits of SPC are much more than just improved quality and cost cutting. Research has shown that the implementation of statistical process control in production environments works to motivate process operators. As these front-line workers become more satisfied with their jobs, they are more motivated towards continuous improvement and high quality.

With all its advantages, SPC does have some limitations. When performed regularly, continuous inspection can be quite expensive. While the cost may be justified for a large manufacturer such as P&G, is Statistical Process Control as relevant for smaller companies too?