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Week of 2 October 2017: Quality Advantages

Email Jim at jthompson@taii.com

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Over a quarter of a century ago, quality was all the rage in industry. Business books on quality abounded and everyone had laser cut letter Q's sitting on their desks (at least in my world). About this time, I had a boss who attended some great quality seminar and came back reporting, "Quality is just as good as the customer requires, no more, no less."

He was wrong. Welcome to quality month at Paperitalo Publications.

The problem with this boss's statement is just this: your competition may come up with a new definition for quality, which they sell at the same price you sold your old definition of quality. If your customers discover this, you are toast.

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Save the date! The Pulp and Paper Industry Reliability and Maintenance conference, sponsored by IDCON and Andritz, will be held March 19-22, 2018 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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About the same time as the boss made his statement, Motorola came out with a new flip phone. It was featured in Fortune Magazine and proclaimed to be the epitome of cell phones. I think it sold for $2,400. I know I wanted one--at the time I had a Mitsubishi mounted in my car. Oh, you could take it out, by taking the handset out of the passenger compartment and the guts of the phone out of the trunk, plugging them together and adding either a cigarette lighter cord or an electric cord (no battery power). By the way, at the time, my roaming charges typically ran $1,500 per month. No camera, no hot spot, no touch screen, no nothing--just a telephone.

Competitors came along and decided they could improve on the quality of the cell phone. On a display shelf in my office I have at least five examples of the improvements that have been made in this one device in the last twenty plus years. That does not include the ones I threw in the trash (including that old Mitsubishi). Now, Apple has come out with the iPhone 8, which does not seem to be selling very well out of the gate. Some speculation is that people are waiting for the iPhone X, due out in about a month at the (gasp!) unheard-of price of about $1,000. "Who would pay a $1,000 for a phone?" asks the millennials who write the business articles of today. Hey, I paid more than that at one point and it was for only for a telephone that weighed about five pounds.

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Jim Thompson is back again...with a new book on a taboo subject: the personalities in the pulp & paper industry. Jim has written in the past on many subjects based on his four plus decades in the worldwide pulp and paper industry. This new book is packed full of information valuable to the senior member of the industry as well as the recent entrant. A must for every pulp and paper library.

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Every product and service has quality improvement opportunities. Even rolls of paper leaving the mill have such opportunities. To improve this quality requires the application of some brainpower, but big dividends abound if people will apply themselves. Do a pareto chart of your customer complaints for the last year, including service complaints as well as product complaints. Knock those down and the next time there is a squeeze on demand in your grade, you will be the one who keeps on shipping. That is worth lots of money.

Quality in response to safety incidents involves training, training and more training. It also involves follow-up after an incident to see where your team can improve. Start down this path today.

Be safe and we will talk next week.

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Nip Impressions has been honored for Editorial Excellence by winning a Tabbie Award!

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