Quality Magazine

From the Editor: The Art of Suggestion

August 27, 2007

Congratulations to Freightliner’s Mt. Holly, NC, Truck Manufacturing Plant on being named the 2007 Quality Plant of the Year. Special Projects Editor Michelle Bangert spent the day with the folks at Freightliner’s Mt. Holly plant learning more about this year’s plant of the year. Michelle’s in-depth article begins on p. 50.

During her visit, Michelle was particularly impressed by the enthusiasm she sensed from everyone at Freightliner. The plant is continually updating their processes and procedures, and while this could lead to frustration for many people, the employees at Freightliner welcomed the ever-changing environment. Employees eagerly related stories about the company and their desire to produce high-quality trucks.

Freightliner prides itself on being a custom truck manufacturer that focuses on its customers. The Mt. Holly plant builds class 5 through 8 commercial vehicles for use in line haul, delivery, custom RV, vocational and emergency service operations. All major customers are assigned a management staff member who works to ensure the lines of communication are kept open and that problems are quickly addressed. Regular conference calls with customers ensure constant feedback to the plant, and periodic customer visits to the plant provide customers the opportunity to see their trucks being built and specifications being met.

This model would serve us well not only when dealing with our customers but in dealing with others in our company. How many times have you bitten your tongue because you didn’t want to bother anyone or cause trouble? Many companies, including Freightliner, have a system in place that allows employees to submit suggestions to improve their work environment. Last year alone, the suggestions implemented at Freightliner increased productivity 5%. Who better to make suggestions than those in the trenches every day?

If you don’t currently have a suggestion system in place, why not? If a system is in place, how has it improved quality? Share your stories with me at campbellg@bnpmedia.com.

Please join me in welcoming Praveen Gupta, president of Accelper Consulting, as Quality Magazine’s newest columnist. Praveen helps corporations in achieving excellence and profitable growth. He has published books including Six Sigma Business Scorecard and Business Innovation in the 21st Century. His column focuses on achieving excellence in manufacturing. Turn to p. 18 for Praveen’s take on excellence vs. acceptance.

I hope you’ll have the opportunity to join us at Quality Expo, Sept. 25 to 27, in Rosemont, IL. At the show you’ll have hands-on access to the newest tools and broadest array of technologies to help you improve quality, streamline your process and compete globally.

Stop by Quality Magazine-booth 7400-to meet the editors and share your thoughts on the state of quality today. I look forward to seeing you at the show.