The WOODMARK Quality Certification Program is the first quality management program specifically designed for the wood products manufacturing industry. The program is based on the WOODMARK Quality System (WQS) which is composed a set of comprehensive standards addressing all critical areas of an organization.
Standard #1 – Organizational Commitment
The successful implementation and operation of a quality system requires the support and participation of every person in a company. In many cases, a quality system may require improvements to a company’s organization and communication, implementation of quality control techniques and changing individual attitudes towards quality and problem solving. The successful implementation of these improvements will require the complete commitment of senior management. Management Commitment, Standard #1, ensures that the WOODMARK Quality System has the strong support and leadership of senior management. Leadership plays a key role in the development and implementation of a formal quality system. They determine the structure of the quality system, the level of employee involvement and appoint the Quality Manager. Senior management will also set the quality policies, major quality goals as well as the description of the organization as a whole (e.g. code of conduct, organizational charts). In larger operations, senior management will determine which parts of the company are covered by the quality system. In small to medium sized companies, which includes most companies in the value-added wood products industry, this will usually include the company as a whole.
Standard #2 – Product Realization and Quality Planning
The implementation of the quality system requires detailed planning and the involvement of every person in a company. As with any major long-term project this first requires the definition of major goals and appointment of the project leader, or in this case, the quality manager. This is achieved in Standard #1. The quality manager in cooperation with senior management must then plan the project by describing in detail how the quality system will function, setting milestones, scheduling work and assigning individuals and teams to perform the work. This is the objective of the Quality Plan, Standard #2.The Quality Plan is the section that outlines the mechanisms behind the entire quality system of a company. It describes the structure and function of the system including the individual roles of the quality manager, senior and middle management, supervisors and plant floor workers directly responsible for quality. The framework for the Quality Manual, Procedures Manual and all other quality related documentation is also delineated as part of the Quality Plan. Dissemination of quality information will be addressed to ensure that all employees are continuously up to date on the current quality control programs and activities. This standard also addresses consistency and improvement of all front end procedures (e.g. Order Entry, Scheduling, Work Orders)
Standard #3 – Control of Incoming Materials
The quality of the raw material coming into a company has a major impact on each step of the manufacturing process as well as the final product. Substandard incoming materials can increase rejects and result in products of lower quality and value. Inspection of Incoming Materials, Standard #3, ensures that materials coming into a company meet the designated specifications. Standard #3 requires:
- Incoming material quality standards and guidelines for Critical Areas.
- Procedure for the inspection and testing such as physical measurements, acceptance sampling and statistical analysis.
- Reporting requirements and Supplier Performance Measures
- Policy for rejected incoming material.
- Method of tracking the effect of incoming material quality on the in-process work and end products.
- Controls and procedures for selection of suppliers and purchasing.
Standard #4 – Measurement and Control of In-process Work
Process inspection, measurement and control are the foundations of total quality assurance and the WOODMARK Quality System. In manufacturing, this is the main engine of the quality control system and is the focus of Measurement and Control of In-Process Work, Standard #4. In order to develop applicable quality standards and to achieve control of the manufacturing process, it must be monitored constantly using testing and inspection initiatives. The objective of this standard is to reduce the variation and increase the predictability of the process by using relevant measurement tools. Standard #4 incorporates Statistical Process Control and Total Quality Management problem solving tools. Standard #4 of the WQS requires the following five general elements:
- Process mapping
- Work Procedures and process flowcharts defined for Critical Areas
- Training to ensure that all plant employees affected by the WQS understand the system.
- In process measurement, statistical process control (SPC), analysis and feedback for Critical Areas
- Control of non-conforming products
These tools can be used to identify trends and irregularities that are characteristic of each manufacturing process so that standards, tolerances and specifications can be developed and referenced.
Standard #5 – Chain of Custody
The ability to trace and link incoming raw material, work orders, work in-process products and stored items throughout the entire process is critical for rapid identification and resolution of quality problems. This system allows a quality manager and/or Quality Team to pinpoint the date, time, machines and processes that every in-process part and end product passes through. The basic premise of Standard #5, is to be able to track all nonconformity back to its source and to identify all other possible components, or products that have been affected. Product traceability also permits effective and equitable resolution of the quality problem. Problems identified with a machine may be resolved through maintenance or consultation with the manufacturer. Improper procedures can be re-written and personnel quickly trained. Problems associated with the incoming raw material can be referred back to the inspection of incoming products for improvement and resolution with the raw material supplier.
Standard#6 – Training
Highly skilled and trained personnel are the most important component of the WOODMARK Quality System. Consistent quality control requires that all employees, especially quality control personnel, be able to quickly and consistently determine acceptable and unacceptable product quality. The ability for quality teams to be able to recommend quality improvements requires that they have a detailed and specialized knowledge of the processes and part components that can affect the final product. The availability of education and training to ensure that employees are able to obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to do their job is the focus of Training, Standard #6.The opportunity of education and skills training and upgrading must be available to employees whose immediate work requires it. This is especially true of quality control personnel who must apply standards that are subjective such as lumber grading rules. Along with these, personnel frequent refresher courses are often required to allow employees to compare their judgement and ensure that standards are applied consistently. Hence, Standards 6 requires Training Records and Plans to be developed to ensure that the most qualified individuals are assigned to the proper tasks as well as to promote employee development.
Standard #7 – Continuous Improvement
In many quality systems and the companies that have adopted them, maintaining the defined quality standards is the main objective and achieving this implies success. In the WOODMARK Quality System, this is only the first part. The major goal of the WOODMARK Quality System is to continually strive to improve and redefine quality beyond the defined standards and customer expectations. This is the objective of Continuous Improvement, Standard #7. Continuous Improvement requires customer feedback and a team approach towards achieving quality. The WOODMARK Quality System requires a mechanism of customer feedback to ensure that current company standards meet customer expectations and that quality problems encountered during product use are corrected. This may include a toll free service phone line and follow-up surveys. The Quality Team approach to quality includes the cooperation of senior and middle management, supervisors and shop floor workers. The WOODMARK program requires that Quality teams are formed and that they meet regularly to review and improve quality. Communication between each level of a company and the quality team is free and rapid. Every person on the quality team has the responsibility to ensure that quality standards are met and that quality improvements are implemented. The quality manager and the President or CEO of the company have the ultimate responsibility to ensure that recommendations of the quality team are reviewed and implemented where appropriate.