Garnering Support for Your Contamination Control Efforts
HAROLD D. FITCH
Who, what, why, when and where are often a key part of our main contamination control effort. Applied to the preplanning and presentation stage of a contamination control program, the answers to these five simple questions can bring a big payoff in more ways than one.
Solving the problem
Every contamination control effort is prompted by a need. Your main effort will be directed at solving a problem and meeting this need. It may be a very specific need, for exzample, a blood supply is contaminated and having a serious effect on patients; or photo process defects have increased and are killing yields in a high tech manufacturing process step.
First, examine the overall situation and what your role is. You may be an engineer with technical responsibility for a specific operation, a member of the manufacturing organization, a staff support person for some level of management, a contamination control specialist, or maybe an outside consultant. It is important to understand your role and consider how you will interface with other players.
Next, look at the role of others and what their reaction to your involvement will be.
Setting the “ground rules”
Throughout my experience in heading a corporate effort on contamination control, I have had extensive success in interfacing with individual plant sites because I followed a few simple ground rules:
1. Work with and through the existing organization.
2. Make one or more highly valued participants in the current activity part of your team.
3. Report from the level of actual activity upward. Involve everyone along the way to create a true “win/win” situation.
Let`s take a closer look at some of these rules. Consider a classic–and hopefully passé–approach: Find violations to the documented procedures and report them in a typical policing operation. This approach has failure built-in. Both create a situation in which workers try to hide what they are doing, treating you as “the enemy.” Manufacturing believes throughput is its primary role and that quality is “not [its] problem”–an approach that spells disaster for any high tech, high yield manufacturing operation.
Instead, build an atmosphere of trust, teamwork, and common goals by working with and involving your customer in the process. However, this does not mean that you have to be a wimp and not go forward with what you believe to be the right course of action. Let the customer know upfront that your responsibility is to the product and your company`s needs, and that you will pursue that to the end. At the same time, try to achieve these goals with the customer`s involvement and cooperation.
Making your presentation
Now, assume the investigation phase of your contamination control effort is nearly complete. You have gathered the facts and decided on a course of action. It is time to go back to Item Three–establishing a “win/win” situation–and consider what you will report and who you will report it to. Start reporting at the level you have been working with and work upward, bringing your interfaces into the activity and building a winning situation for them.
Decisions as to how high up the chain of command you go with your presentations and how many separate presentations should be made by whoever requested your involvement in the first place. This could range from the engineer who is responsible for improving a single piece of equipment or process step to the consultant who is setting up an overall contamination control program for a large corporation with many product lines and plant sites.
In your presentation, the basics are the same, but delivery must be adapted to the level of audience you will address. The following seven steps will serve you well:
1. Organize your results carefully and present your prioritized action plan.
2. Show the cost-related improvements that can be expected for funding individual action items.
3. Pinpoint who will be responsible for implementing and following up on various improvements.
4. Whenever possible, enlist the designated responsible party to help with your presentation.
5. Remember, the higher you go with you presentation the more summarized it should be. You will need detailed facts to substantiate any questions that arise.
6. Take ownership of the action plan and explain how it will be implemented and tracked.
7. Emphasize that successful contamination control is not a “one-time fix,” but must involve a change in style and become an integral way of doing business.
Preparing your recommendations
Let`s consider these seven steps in a little more detail. You must organize your results and present a prioritized action list because you are the contamination control expert. The purpose of your presentation is not to educate your audience, but to show them how to increase their return-on-investment by improving the company`s contamination control effort. However, have a flexible attitude and be willing to modify your approach, based on other people`s input. It is your responsibility to direct the effort and show management the best utilization of resources. Next, estimate the cost versus payback for each of your recommendations.
It is also important to make recommendations on who should be responsible for implementing and following specific improvements. Some improvements fall naturally to manufacturing, engineering, facilities, purchasing or other parties. Many improvements overlap and require the cooperation of several organizations. Your plan should show how this involvement will be organized, implemented, and tracked. Again, the final responsibility may shift away from your initial recommendation; the important thing is that you have acted as the catalyst to get the issue resolved.
You are “the expert.” Come forward with a series of specific recommendations, cost estimates and a time frame in which to implement your recommendations. Offer to help put the system in place and ensure its success. If you are a consultant, your customer may elect to take over the implementation. If this happens, you should offer your assistance in tracking the success of the project.
Finally, it is important to get the message across that successful contamination control is not a “one-time fix.” It requires continual reassessment and a willingness to try a new approach. It will only be successful in the long-run if it becomes a key part of doing business. n
Harold Fitch is president of Future Resource Development, a consulting firm in Burlington, VT, specializing in cleanroom education and problem-solving. He conducts international training seminars for CleanRooms` shows and seminars.