By Patrick Hatcher on March 14, 2014
NSK Proves The Value Of A Quality Management System
With nearly 100 years of technological achievement, the NSK Group has been putting quality first for a very long time, and it has paid dividends.
The motion and control company, founded in 1916, is best known for its ball-bearings—making about three million per day—but it also supplies other precision products to companies ranging from automobile manufacturers to makers of consumer goods. Volkswagen, Ford, Bosch and others rely on NSK Europe for quality parts for their products. Not surprisingly, NSK Europe’s employees take that commitment seriously.
“Total quality #1—that describes our culture 100 percent,” says Martin Conron, a quality management veteran and management representative for quality at NSK Europe. “Everyone everywhere has a role to play in quality, even our CEO.”
Dr. Jürgen Ackermann, NSK Europe’s CEO, sets the tone by participating in quality training initiatives and review processes. As Conron notes, no quality program will be successful unless senior management sets the tone.
CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT AIDED BY SOFTWARE
Quality is about continuous improvement. As part of continuous improvements at NSK Europe, the company implemented a document management solution 11 years ago. With the purchase and introduction of Qualtrax, Conron says, the initial goal was to assist the engineering department with document management. But as with all continuous improvement initiatives, Qualtrax’s role has expanded greatly and evolved.
More than a decade later, 225,000 documents are stored in the system. From Conron’s point of view, the system “performs a consistent and reliable role in our quality management program.”
That may sound simple, but consider this: the system is used by approximately 2,000 employees at sites across Europe and the rest of the world. Qualtrax is now used to control all quality, environmental and health and safety systems, along with most customer specific requirements, manufacturing and logistics documentation.
It is so ingrained in the processes at NSK Europe that Qualtrax has been linked to NSK Europe’s logistics and manufacturing software so that only the latest published documentation can be viewed by operators at their stations. Being consistent and reliable should be two traits on everyone’s wish list when seeking a quality software solution.
And while managing documentation was its original use, Qualtrax now includes more than 40 Workflows. For an organization where “manufacturing quality is [the] hallmark,” notes Conron, it’s no wonder why including these Workflows is vital for the company’s quality journey.
As NSK Europe looks forward to its next challenge — closer integration between its Health & Safety, Environmental and Quality Management Systems while still meeting the requirements of its customers as well as ISO 9001, TS 16949, ISO 14001 and OSAS 18001— the quality management staff continues to seek innovative ways to improve quality and meet or exceed the standard’s requirements. Employees are developing best-practice plants that ultimately will be replicated in other facilities, according to Conron, and they’re looking to Qualtrax and its software to help them along the way.
3 WAYS YOUR COMPLIANCE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM WILL ENHANCE QUALITY
For companies using compliance management/document control software, there is always room for improvement. Here are three ways NSK Europe has used the Qualtrax system to further enhance quality initiatives:
NSK EUROPE AND QUALTRAX – BY THE NUMBERS
About NSK Europe
Employees: 3,328 Employees
Products: Industrial bearings, automotive products, Linear Rails, & Sliders, Ballscrews and Mechatronics
Parent Company: NSK Ltd., Japan (Nippon Sieko, K.K.)
Norio Otsuka, President and Chief Executive Officer
92 Group Companies