Putting commitment to quality into practice

June 19, 2014 Mike Minnich

Originally from Lehighton, Pennsylvania, USA, Mike started his career at Fuller Company’s Allentown Plant in 1979.

Mike Minnich, Global Quality Control Engineer, is responsible for making sure that the drive to enhance competitive position goes hand in hand with FLSmidth’s commitment to quality. Over his 35 years in FLSmidth, Mike has shifted between job roles in manufacturing and in quality control.

“In manufacturing, I had the opportunity to see firsthand where mistakes are most likely to occur. I can relate to the challenges and focus on these areas and in some instances, help prevent mistakes.”

Global supply chain

FLSmidth’s supplier base is global. Mike has been on long-term assignments in Egypt, India and China; and some short-term inspections in many other countries.

“As an inspector, remoteness is not as prevalent as someone working at an erection site. However, that doesn’t mean there have not been adventures. Once on an assignment to investigate vibration on a cement mill gear pinion set in Yemen, I needed to call the Gear Engineering department. This was before mobile phones, internet, fax, and no land line was available. A local drove me to a phone located deep down in a cave and I paid USD 260 to talk for only a few minutes.”

   

Putting commitment to quality into practice

Making a difference

Aside from the adventure, there are opportunities for inspectors to have an impact and help drive change.

“For years adjusting lugs in mill gears were drilled and tapped in the workshop and bolts supplied loose. This resulted in numerous complaints that the bolts would not screw into the lugs. At many jobsites this issue was compounded by the fact that it was very challenging to find a tap this large and delays resulted. I had the opportunity to help revise the practice so that the bolts are now trial assembled at the workshop and shipped in place. 

On another occasion, while performing my inspection duties at a fabrication workshop in India, the workshop managers thought I was being extra tough and almost every day we had confrontations. Months later, on a return visit, the workshop managers approached me. Apparently, the shop received high praise on quality and delivery; they wanted to thank me for being a driving force in their success.”

Teamwork

With a complex, global supply chain, inspectors must go beyond a simple “pass or fail” check list and anticipate and even correct possible issues.

“Success is only achieved with dedication and teamwork. In Egypt a colleague and I were asked to oversee the repair of a 75 tonne grinding table. The local facilities did not have machines typically used to achieve the required level of precision. Given the available options and schedule demands, we took on the challenge and performed the work with a wobbly, old drilling machine. With some extra time and everyone’s complete cooperation, we were able to maintain the tolerances and the table was successfully erected.

Similarly, there was a foundry having problems maintaining quality requirements on a cast gear. After several unsuccessful attempts at welding repair, I was asked to assist and we created a team with all relevant foundry personnel. One part of the procedure was to maintain a minimum preheating temperature of 250°C during August with 40°C temperatures. We rotated shifts working 20 hours a day for two weeks until satisfactory results were achieved."

About the Author

Michael.minnich@flsmidth.com

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