Harman’s Quality Improvement Plan
by Dale Seidlitz, Manager of Global Quality
At Harman, we’ve always had a commitment to outstanding quality. But if you’re not constantly striving to improve, are you really doing all you can in that commitment? Even if perfection may seem unrealistic, if that isn’t your ultimate goal in quality assurance, are you aiming high enough? As the Manager of Global Quality, I won’t be satisfied until we get there.
In the meantime, as long as customer concerns exist, our goal is to achieve full understanding of the reported quality issue within the first 48 hours of learning about it. This requires the acquisition and understanding of a tremendous amount of information.
- Does the reported issue affect one unit, or multiple?
- Is it an unprecedented concern or has it happened before?
- Is the concern limited to a particular country or region, or is it potentially global?
- Is it user error or mechanical?
- What are the symptoms?
- When does the problem occur?
- Is it possible to photograph or take video of the issue?
The list goes on, and there is no such thing as too much data when it comes to resolving and preventing future occurrences of a quality concern.
Once we have all available data, we hope to reach the conclusion that the concern is easily addressed and corrected directly with the user. Regardless of whether the issue is minor or more severe, any time a concern is brought to our attention we immediately initiate our stringent corrective action protocol. Here’s an example. We received reports that a brand sticker was coming off of one of our models of bookshelf speaker. Right away, Customer Service was provided brand new stickers to send free of charge to any customer who reported the problem. Simultaneously, the Quality team alongside manufacturing immediately began evaluating the entire production process to learn and understand the cause of the issue. Was it the speaker’s finish? Was the speaker not cleaned properly before the sticker was applied? Was it the quality of the adhesive? After an extensive testing process, it was determined that the issue was indeed the use of a subpar adhesive, which was subsequently and immediately eliminated from use.
Even seemingly simple problems get exhaustively researched. Let’s say someone purchased a new AVR and the remote was missing from the box. They call customer service, get excellent care taken of them and a new remote expedited to their home. Problem solved, right? Well, this instance is solved, but why did it happen? Human error is rarely if ever accepted as the root cause of a problem. A symptom, sure. But a manufacturing process failure is virtually always related to work methods, machines used, insufficient manpower, training, or testing. Yes, we addressed the immediate concern of getting a replacement remote shipped to the customer, but how many other units are affected? To how many countries could affected units have been shipped? Do we have enough replacement remote controls to send to customers should the problem not be isolated to the one unit? These are the questions we have to answer while also taking the corrective actions necessary to avoid this issue being repeated.
All reported quality errors are treated seriously and entered into a system where we track them by type, frequency, repeatability, geography, and product. This type of attention to detail allows to get real time quality data on the performance of our Luxury Audio products, as well as the necessary knowledge to track predictive trending to proactively eliminate potential issues before they happen.
Luxury should be synonymous with quality and as the Manager of Global Quality, my commitment to you is that in Harman Luxury Audio, it always will be.