Blast from the Past – Bell Northern Research Section Meeting
G U E S T A R T I C L E
Blast from the Past
Bell Northern Research Section Meeting
Capital Quality News, February 1992
Our second regular meeting (October 22, 1991) took place at the Carling lab.
We began the process venting with a short reception followed by an excellent dinner in the BNR cafeteria. For those of us who attended, you realize that the image usually conjured up by the term cafeteria in no way fits the BNR situation. Their first rate quality of the meal and the surroundings set the tone for the evening. During the dinner, Dectiin members were brought up to date on the Section activities, including upcoming courses and the recent, very successful, second annual Quality Forum Ottawa held October 1st at the Congress Centre.
After dinner we heard a presentation from Brian Voss, Director of the core Excellence programme at BNR. Brian gave a brief history of the evolution of NT/ENR from its beginnings as Northern Electric around the beginning of the 20th century. While the first fifty or so years of its existence saw the company pretty well content to serve as the manufacturing arm of Bell, the 50s and 60s brought on a fundamental change. With AT&T under fire, a need for R&D in Canada was born, leading to the creating of BNR. When Northern Electric became Northern Telecom, the first signs of the establishment of the vision of NT were seen. The 20 year period from 1979 to 1990 was one of tremendous growth; sakes increased 12 fold. R&D increased by a factor of 25 and earnings increase
Send 100 times. The next step in the evolution was labeled « Vision 2000 » which set the goal of becoming the leading telecommunications equip,ent and service supplier by the end of the century. With industry sales estimated to be 300 billion by the year 2000 and the assumption that the industry « Kendra » should hold 10% of the market. Brian pointed out that the Vision 2000 statement translated into a sales target of $30 billion. In turn, this implied a 15 to 20% annual growth rate in sales from the late 80s tonthe year 2000.
The tradition of quality is well-known for Bell companies and this tradition continues ( for examples, the Canadian Awards for Business Excellence Gold in 1990 for one of the Switching Division.). The need to move to TWM was recognized and the work began in earnest in 1990. The activities were formalized in mid-1991. A major direction, launched by senior management , is the Excellence programme. One immediate consequence was the fine-tuning of the Vision 2000 goal, now expressed as the desire to be the leader in service to customers, treatment of suppliers, respect for employees and community involvement.
As Mr. Voss explained, the Excellence programme is really a series of stages : Awareness, Implementation, Refinement ( continuous improvement). BNR feels it is entering the early implementation stage. Several pilot projects have been conducted some with very successful results. For example, one project looked at ways of removing barriers to effective use of the Lab. As a result, Lab use increased by a factor of 6, at the same time effectiveness ( ptopirtiinofvlab time spent actually doing the work versus cleaning up after the last user, etc.) rose from 51% to 85%. Also, Brian talked about the major training programs which are underway. Using a cascade approach, they expect about 80% of the 63000 NT and BNR employees will have participated by the end of 1992 and 100% by the end of 1993. BNR has plans to set up 400 improvement teams among its approximately 8000 and are now considering how best to do this (ideas welcome)!
Finally Brian summarized with a few thoughts on expectations. For 1992, they hope to see a change in the corporate mindset and to see some enthusiasm for the program being put in place. He finished by inviting more communication and exchange of information between people and companies as we travel the road to excellence.
Next we broke into small groups for a tour of the BNR facility. While walking about we had an opportunity to see that attractive working environment and to see some of the Excellence display materials posted around the complex, we visited the ‘captive office’ area, a 2.5 million line testing environment. In the ‘load build’ area, two employees explained how the change to continuous compiling gas dramatically reduced errors and reduced turnaround time. Next, we went to ‘Design Interpretive’ where we saw an interesting video presentation on how excellence is reinforced through image and operation. We also visited the Usability Lab for a first hand loom at the design testing facilities.
After the tour, we returned to the cafeteria for coffee and discussion.
Thanks to Brian Voss for speaking to our group. Special thanks to Bill Boswick for his efforts in making the arrangements at BNR and to all the staff at BNR for making our visit a very interesting and enjoyable one.
The post has been contributed by Ruth Stanley, Chair, ASQOttawa Valley Section. You can contact Ruth using our contact form.