Original Date: 08/26/1996
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Total Quality Program
Prior to 1991, a total quality program did not exist at Weirton Steel Corporation (WSC). As part of the company's new vision and commitment to quality, WSC began establishing a continuous improvement program built around total quality. The commitment to improvement and quality was mandated by top management and fostered a wave of change throughout the company.
The centerpiece of the continuous improvement philosophy is the Supplier, Input, Process, Output, Customer (SIPOC) process. This is a formal, structured process used throughout the mill to dramatically improve performance in key processes. Dedicated cross-functional teams use total quality, problem-solving methods and tools to identify key process parameters, develop controls for each, and use these to improve the process. SIPOCs were created for each major unit in the mill. Each unit developed a Total Quality (TQ) plan to reduce downtime, decrease rejects, and improve overall performance. Pareto analysis is used to identify the top five drivers, and formal action plans are developed to address and correct the top drivers. Top-level goals are set for each unit in terms of yield, production, and spending performance. The goals are reviewed with top management monthly.
The entire TQ process is well documented and tracked. Management is working to institutionalize the system consistently throughout the mill. ISO-9000 certification is one way that WSC is building a consistent TQ structure. Training in TQ methods, tools, and experience with the SIPOC process are paying off. Many successes such as the energy team improvements are occurring in all areas. The SIPOC process made it clear that most critical processes at WSC were not well defined or understood. The Tin Mill is one of the top TQ performers, reversing its situation from loss to profit. Last year, all top-level improvement goals were either met or exceeded, resulting in more than $28 million worth of improvement.
One area in need of further development is to increase the involvement of the salary non-exempt workforce in TQ. The first step is to get first-line supervisors on board. This is being addressed through training and merit pay. The company has made some attempts to establish self-directed work teams and increase worker empowerment. Empowerment efforts have not worked well at WSC because of the company's culture and strong union orientation. Employee participation groups such as the energy efficiency team have been very successful and will continue to be the primary approach to continuous improvement.
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