A manufacturer can have the best measurement, test and inspection equipment installed, the best analytical software solution and registration to the current version of every standard, but still not have a bonafide quality program.

Quality magazine's staff has had a first-hand look at quality technology and programs. In addition, each month we bring you real-world applications of quality technologies and techniques. Regardless of the product manufactured or location, successful companies seem to have one thing in common: people who care about quality.

We often hear how it is the employees who make the difference; that it is their buy-in that is key to the success of whatever quality plan or technology that is implemented. Talk to a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award winner. In the October 2004 issue of Quality magazine, we portrayed Baldrige Award winner Medrad Inc. (Indianola, PA). They have top-notch manufacturing equipment and facilities. But what makes them an award-winning manufacturer is that the employees have embraced quality. It permeates the entire corporate culture.

Likewise, Diamond Electric Manufacturing Corp. (Eleanor, WV) has extensive investment in quality. Managing Editor Gillian Campbell has her report on our 2005 Quality Plant of the Year winner beginning on page 40. During her tour, she saw state-of-the-art manufacturing and quality technology. She saw a facility that has improved its productivity, has expanded its capacity and continues to please its customers.

In speaking with both Lloyd Ayers, plant manager at Diamond, and Jerry Maxwell, quality assurance specialist at that plant, I learned that everyone at the plant takes quality seriously. Employees have the ability to stop the line if they see an out-of-control process. Maxwell told Gillian that Diamond employees take ownership of the products they make; if something is not correct they want to know, "why?" And why do the employees at Diamond take quality seriously? It starts at the top. Talk to Ayers for 5 minutes and it's easy to see that he is a proponent of quality. That makes a huge difference. If top management does not buy in to quality and view it as an important investment, the rank-and-file employees won't take quality seriously.

Quality is a part of Diamond's entire corporate culture. Visit the corporate Web site, http://www.diaelec.co.jp/eng/, and you'll see on the homepage that the product they tout is "quality." The payoff on this dedication to quality for Diamond has been a steadily increasing number of customers, as well as continued plant expansion.

In initiating the Quality Plant of the Year Award, Quality magazine wants to give special recognition to companies like Diamond. We received more than two dozen entries that each showed how manufacturing is improved when a comprehensive quality program is in place. The entries came from industries as diverse as transportation, aerospace, defense, electronics, computers, metalworking and home building products. Each plant showed how quality is implemented through equipment, software and services, and most importantly, how it is embraced by employees.

Do your people make a difference in quality?

Tom Williams is publisher

of Quality magazine.

Tom can be reached at [email protected].