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EMA 630 Scenario VALID Short-Circuited Battery: Three Months Later

Introduction and Context: This case study builds on the case study presented in EMA 600: Introduction to Engineering for Engineering Managers. We will revisit the company VALID, Inc., three months after the scenario presented in EMA 600. For the purposes of this final project, remember that we do not assume that you have an engineering or technical background. The focus is on the big picture of project leadership and how to ask the right questions and think critically to solve problems. There are no clear answers to the issues in this scenario, so think critically and creatively, and always keep the rubric and your overall goal in mind. Background: In this scenario, we have adequately and successfully tested the new design. The production line is in full operation, and VALID is delivering batteries to satisfied customers. Marketing is very happy because there are new customers ready to place orders that will bring the company close to full production capacity. Human resources (HR) is in hiring mode to meet the new demand. Management is thrilled with the new revenue stream. Battery subcontractors are in production and delivering raw materials and subcomponents on time and within quality standards. This is great, but what could go wrong? Three Issues: Ishikawa Diagram

1. Instructions: Use the Ishikawa diagram to identify the potential root causes of the following issues. Choose the best root cause(s) and propose appropriate corrective action.

a. The production line is currently yielding 100 units/day. Full capacity with three shifts can yield 150 units/day. For some reason, when the production manager performed a test yield run to determine if the production line could produce the 150 units/day, the production line only yielded 110 units/day. This is a big issue because marketing is already signing orders with new customers, which will increase production demand. What could be the root cause of this issue?

b. There have been five cases of production line workers experiencing headaches on the assembly line. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is involved and investigating. OSHA has threatened to close the production line unless a quick root cause is found. The union is investigating the incidents and is demanding a quick resolution to the issue. What could be the root cause of this issue?

c. At the final quality checkpoint in the production process, QA engineers perform acceptance tests to determine if the batteries are delivering constant voltage and steady heat dissipation. QA has been witnessing batteries with out-of-specification low voltage measurements. The issue is not constant across all production units. The result has been the rejection of these batteries, which has adversely affected production quantities. What could be the root cause of this issue?

Three Risks and Mitigations: Define, quantify, and mitigate the following risks using the risk matrix:

1. You hear on the news that there could be political unrest in the country in which one of your key international suppliers resides. The opposition party’s major platform is higher wages for workers in order to gain popularity with the majority of voters. The upcoming national elections are nine months away. What are the risks that this political unrest could possibly affect the production line?

2. Management wants to reduce costs by moving some production facilities to a country where labor costs are cheaper. Even though this move is consistent with current trade agreements, the move is counter to the policies of the new executive administration of the federal government, which is promoting made-in-America products. The move would be legal, but the federal government is threatening increased tariffs and taxes to companies that do not comply with the buy-American initiative. What are the risks to the company and the production line if management decides to move the production facility?

3. The production line is staffed with union workers. The four-year union agreement is coming to an end in 12 months. Previous negotiations have been cooperative, but there have been discussions of union discontent with current worker benefits. On the other hand, raising worker benefits could affect VALID’s profits, which would cause the company’s stock value to drop and adversely affect stockholders. If there were a union strike, the production line would be directly affected. What are the risks?

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