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QUALITY- A PROFESSION ELIMINATING ITSELF?

QUALITY from Birth to Death?

This old 88 year old began his career in Quality Control in 1952. Quality Control was a new name for “Inspection” when they blended Inspection with Statistics and a new Department was born. The Inspection function, was made an independent activity during WWII, that separated inspection from manufacturing. The reason was more of a safety issue to help protect the military from human errors in a critical World War.

I helped input and still have a copy of the first Quality Control Manual created for Temco Aircraft Corporation. I was involved with the incorporation of statics and the inspection function. Quality Control gained stature with a Director who reported directly to the President. This type of Quality Control Department is still not active in the small US business world unless it is mandated by the customer. One exception might be if the company had been fined or caused human fatalities that resulted in excessive legal costs. Most just decided on closure and/or bankruptcy.

In the late 1950’s along came NASA and another gain for the Quality professional, I had advanced to the then title of General Foreman of Inspection. The company name had been changed to Ling Temco with no advancement in management reporting or title. In i960 we acquired Chance Vought Aircraft and the company was known as Ling-Temco-Vought or LTV. In the middle 1960’s the company decided to build a separate plant for missiles and space programs and I spent the next 16 years as Manager of administration or all testing functions. At age 47 I completed a Master of Science degree and a proud 3.92 GPA. NASA over the years had been able to remove the name “Control” as we actually controlled nothing but ourselves. NASA also combined Quality, Safety and Reliability into one department. A giant step for the quality function.

My last two years with LTV I served as dead end Manager of Quality Planning with no chance of advancement after two suffering years completing my Masters Degree.

In 1978 I was offered a position with Otis Engineering, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Halliburton Corporation. This was a significant stature and responsibility promotion for me. My title was Director of Quality for a company with sales of eight billion annually and I reported to the President and had to have my departmental operating plan presented and approved by the Halliburton Board of Directors annually. My need was the first Quality Program Requirement instituted by the Department of the Interior for design, fabrication and testing for Surface and Sub-Surface Safety Valves and named SPPE-1/-2 used in US offshore oil and gas wells. This program introduced a totally new form of Quality for the oil and gas industry. This program was a derivative of NQA-1/-2 created for the Nuclear industry earlier, This was like taking a still inspection industry far beyond itself into the NASA/Nuclear world in one giant leap. This leap was a common giant step for all suppliers. During my time with Otis my department required over 425 employees worldwide

This was a new leap for me as instead of dealing with Air Force, Navy, Army or Nasa the agency that managed the Nuclear and SPPE programs was the American Society for Mechanical Engineers or ASME. This was only the second program that was ever required deal with third party agencies instead of Government agencies. This form of Quality functioned through a committee structure that was responsible for its operation. Operating as ASME Committees the structure was a Representative for what as named the Main Committee and there were committees for Surface Safety Valves, Sub-service Safety Valves, A Quality Committee and a Committee for Testing. Each Committee had a member from the ASME, a member from the Department of the Interior, am member from the manufacturer of each device, a member from the testing organization and a member from the public, Each committee elected a Chairman and a Secretary and meetings were scheduled quarterly. These meetings rotated and usually lasted 4 days. In addition the Chairman of  the Main Committee, the ASME Director of Accreditation, the Department of the Interior representative met semi-annually in Reston Virginia and at ASME headquarters in New York City.

These two programs were the beginning of the current ISO third party, accreditation and registration programs that began later as ISO 9000-1/-2 Requirements that began in the late 1980’s. For credibility reasons I was chairman of both the Main and Quality Committees for over 5 years. Two as the Manufacturer representative and three as the Public representative as I left the Halliburton Cooperation after 5 years to further my career in Quality Training and Consulting that lasted eleven more years before I retired in 1994.

My remaining eleven years of Quality work was both public and in-house training on three continents with a partner for the first several years, Richard, Dick, Kleckner, We trained some 40,000 individuals in both Quality System Auditing and familarism with the ISO 9000 Standards This took us to four Countries and likely 25 states and we also had a special Auditor program for the airline industry that trained people from every airline in the free world. We both had separate Consulting businesses and we did several programs together for some of the larger industries/airlines including an in-depth audit of Eastern Airlines shortly before it went bankrupt.

Another join venture was the forming of a company in 1990 to be accredited to issue ISO 9001/-2 registrations. Quality Systems Registrar, QSR, became the first American owned company to be Accredited to issue ISO Certificates. QSR is still in business with over 400 customers. Being smaller than the giants of Registration we have always limited our size to make sure we can develop bonding relationships and some of our customers have been with us since our Accreditation. I still serve as a member of our Board of Governors that assure credibility to QSR’s operation. There may still be other Quality professionals still functioning that are my age but all of the giants of Quality like Dr Juran, Dr. Demming, Phil Crosby for a few were acquaintances or friends have long ago departed. The only other friend still working is Hank Farlander, another Dallas friend I first met when I was Chairman of the Dallas Chapter of what was still the ASQC in the early 1980’s,

My reason for taking the time to create this article is I am now watching the Quality leadership of today slowly destroy all of the barriers I helped remove to gain stature for the Quality Profession and the Quality Professional. I tried hard to not create a book but without explaining the wars I helped fight for stature many Quality professionals have no idea how hard it was to gain stature for a function that adds no value to the large companies except improved operations and reduced waste. In my career I worked in twenty three countries, visited in nine more and worked forty nine States. In my last eleven years I flew over 3,000,000 miles and spent over 2200 nights traveling. I started or help start nine different businesses in 4 countries.

I wrote this a few weeks ago and sure enough the following events are unfolding. Greed finally tripped up the leaders as predicted.

Watching today’s accreditation organizations like the ANAB, an AQC subsidiary, join with the foreign accreditation bodies keep trying to expand responsibilities for Quality into risk management, and other fields that will fail eventually when the costs of Accreditation and Registration exceed the increasing beyond any possible savings will kill the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg. When the last cycle of increased costs were introduced a couple of years ago I tried to warn the ANAB they were swimming in uncharted waters and I was ignored. If the AQC does not make certain the top leadership is aware of the shark filled waters Quality as a profession will get the first self inflicted black eye in my 65 plus years. I doubt that the AQC will have the honesty to print this article and at least generate discussion to prove me a wingnut or get some sanity involved before the bloodbath begins. I have nothing to lose or gain as my days are numbered. I just can’t believe the wild intrusions into other areas like design are an act of wisdom.   

Clyde W. Brewer PE, PQE, Member of Mensa and Intertel.   

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2 thoughts on “QUALITY- A PROFESSION ELIMINATING ITSELF?

  1. Baxter Henderson on said:

    Sad days Clyde. To see a profession that you virtually created destroying itself must be heartbreaking!

    How are you travelling old chum!

    Baxter

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