TQM: The Tyranny of the Urgent

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The I-Connect007 editorial team recently spoke with Dr. Ron Lasky about what’s stopping companies from improving their processes, especially regarding productivity.

Nolan Johnson: Ron, thanks for joining us in this conversation. What’s your role in the industry?

Dr. Ron Lasky: My day job is as a professor of engineering at Dartmouth, and I also work with Indium Corporation as a senior technologist.

Barry Matties: What do you teach?

Lasky: I teach engineering statistics, optimization, technical project management, and topics in manufacturing and design. At Dartmouth, we have a program called a Master of Engineering Management (MEM). It’s a graduate program for students that are engineers but would like to get into management. Most of the courses I teach are in this program. Half of the MEM program is taught by the MBA Tuck School of Management, and the other half is taught by the engineering department. The topics that I focus on—and I have an additional program at Dartmouth on this—are Lean Six Sigma topics like process optimization, design of experiments, and statistical process control. In my class on topics in manufacturing and design, I focus on one manufacturing process mostly, and that’s electronic assembly because that’s what I know the best.

The optimization work I do is quite general; it’s not specific to solder paste or electronic assembly. Our Lean Six Sigma program at Dartmouth has become quite successful; since Dartmouth is part of the Ivy league, people like the fact that they get a certificate in a yellow belt through master black belt that was granted by the school of engineering at Dartmouth College, but it isn’t specific to electronic assembly.

Matties: This is an industry that has complained—especially on the bare board side— that there’s no profit left, and we’re making the argument that there’s plenty of profit; you’re spending your profit on a lot of waste in your process.

Lasky: I can definitely address that. That’s something I teach. I’ve been kind of frustrated in that if I propose a paper on how to minimize defects in voiding, I will get all sorts of interest, but if I propose a paper on how to improve productivity, there’s not as much interest. That baffles me because when I go and do audits, most of the places could make a lot more money if they implemented some common-sense improvements in productivity.

To read this entire interview, which appeared in the June 2020 issue of SMT007 Magazine, click here.




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