Making a Quality Turnabout by Asking for Advice


Making a Quality Turnabout by Asking for Advice

Rheaco—struggling, Grand Prairie, Texas-based subsidiary manufacturer of aerospace and defense equipment—sought assistance from Automation and Robotics Research Institute (ARRI) at University of Texas (UT) to remediate suboptimal performance. Some perceived inefficiencies included:

  • 50% delayed delivery;
  • Customer complaints;
  • Internal scheduling and capacity problems;
  • Diminished customer-base.

Rheaco needed an overhaul. ARRI accommodated. ARRI collaborated with Rheaco to resolve these issues. The problem-solving plan introduced quality control systems, e.g., Just-in-time task precedence charts, designed to streamline data and enhance overall efficiency management. The plan successfully synchronized communication, stimulating autonomous product flow—mitigating bottleneck issues—while contemporaneously curtailing travel time. Consequently, aggregate required production time “decreased from 40 to 2 hours.”[i] Additionally, manufacturing increased “300%.”[ii] As a corollary, customer relationships stabilized.

Impact on Quality
Many factors—possibly pride—plausibly discourage companies from requesting assistance. Perhaps pride assumed in needing help, particularly, after a once self-sufficient company witnesses decline, prevents external solicitation, lest the petition projects possible weakness. But “pride precedes destruction.” [iii] By refusing outside assistance, a company cuts off its nose to spite the face because it implies dismissing help even if potentially necessary for quality purposes.

However, Rheaco proactively pursued the cost-effective services of a reputable university institution to address its operational challenges. But for seeking help, Rheaco faced the prospect of becoming potentially unviable. Yet, Rheaco graciously accepted ARRI’s guidance. Accordingly, the proven control-mechanisms introduced strongly correlated to resuscitating Rheaco’s productivity.

Ultimately, this case demonstrates the delivery of quality because Rheaco likely optimized its manufacturing processes, restoring output, through its probative willingness to receive extrinsic support. Rheaco reinforces the principle that “going it alone” may sometimes prove inadvisable to maximizing “quality and manufacturing effectiveness.” [iv] The case reminds that circumstances might arise where companies, like Rheaco, may need a helping hand to remain sustainable.

Therefore, the core value of seeking help to preserve sustainability evidence quality delivery, since “quality” usually becomes “synonymous with performance.”  [v] This rationale comports with my reason for choosing the case—a practical, common-sense testament of wisdom—companies maximizing quality by seeking help where needed.

[i] Foster, S. Thomas, “Managing Quality Integrating the Supply Chain,” Sixth Edition, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ (2007), p. 46.

[ii] Foster at 47.

[iii] Holy Bible, NIV, Proverbs 16:18.

[iv] Foster at 47.

[v]  Id. at 4, 11.

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