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Bucking the Cliché of “Culture”—Caring About Health and Safety at ICD

It’s not as if we completely shy away from the word “culture.”  In fact, it can even be found within our company’s Health & Safety Mission Statement along with several other standard phrases(read clichés):  “every accident is preventable,” “highest priority,” “measure, evaluate and improve,” “ownership-driven” (and  perhaps a few more).  We make no apology for the use of such terms that may, for some, seem tired and overused.  ICD proudly stands behind its statement and we celebrate every inch of ground gained in improvements throughout all aspects of our operations.

While the words we chose to communicate our commitment to safety may include some of the expected rhetoric, of much greater importance is what can actually be observed and measured by our actions.  We could post a big, bright banner declaring “SAFETY IS NUMBER ONE!” in prominent view at our plant.  Does that make it so?  Of course not.  Would a visitor to our facilities be persuaded to believe the banner if our record or observations of our behavior proved otherwise?  Not likely.  We don’t have such a banner—but we do uphold the message!  And the reason why is not just because we’re supposed to.

I think most people that concern themselves with workplace safety would agree that every business, large or small, has a “safety culture”—but whether that “culture” is good, bad or otherwise is determined by what is actually demonstrated by everyone in the company.  Simply stating that one has a “safety culture” may have lost the power of reassurance it was once meant to evoke (as described in this great blog by Dave Johnson of ISHN).  What if companies shifted their focus to the development of a different kind of “culture?”

At ICD, we understand that safety cannot be compartmentalized into a program and simply managed by encouraging (or enforcing) compliance with policies and regulations—whether such a program is “ownership-driven” or not.  Protecting and preserving our collective health and safety can only be accomplished (and truly sustained) by digging deeper to develop and nurture this one thing:  care.  We genuinely care about each other’s health and safety—at work, at home, on the road, everywhere!  We have a “caring culture!”

It may seem overly simplistic (or even obvious) to some, but take a moment and think about it.  Rules, regulations, codes, manuals, guidelines, procedures, audits, evaluations, metrics, data, programs, committees, councils, conferences, corrective actions—none of these can prevent an accident.  Only people who truly care about safety (for themselves and their coworkers) will prevent accidents!

While we must certainly provide our workforce with thorough health and safety education and training (notwithstanding all of the associated rules, policies and procedures), our greatest efforts must be invested in motivating each other to care.  An individual or group who knows the right thing to do might choose to do it.  An individual or group who genuinely cares about the right thing to do will choose to do it—the difference between the two is enormously significant!  Would I suggest that a caring workforce will never suffer an accident?  I’d like to believe it is possible, but no.  We are all human and subject to mistakes.  However, I absolutely guarantee that a caring workforce will suffer less!

Question:  In what ways can fostering a “caring culture” improve safety conditions at your business?

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“When Color Matters” – ICD’s Commitment to Color Matching

You say, “to-mā’to”—I say, “to-mä’to.”  What’s the difference?  We’re talking about the same thing, right?  Of course.  While the pronunciation may vary, a tomato is a tomato is a tomato.  But what color is the tomato?  Now, that presents us with an entirely different kind of challenge.

When we are dealing with color communication, it is not enough to simply say, “The tomato is red.”  But it IS red, isn’t it?  Very generally speaking, yes.  Now, take a look at the tomato images below.  Which tomato is red?  Would you suggest that both tomatoes are red?  If so, that would not be a wrong answer—both may be described as “red.”  But are they the same color?  Certainly not.

Tomatoes

Without diving into the particulars of color science (we’ll save that for another post), it is important to establish the fact that what we commonly refer to as a “color” can be quite subjective from the observer’s perspective (our eyes).  Add variables such as the type and angle of light, surface shape and texture, gloss and many others, and the ability to define and reproduce a color becomes rather complex.              

At ICD, color is our business—it’s at the very heart of what we do.  When Color Matters is our slogan!  After a customer submits a color sample, our color match technicians will blend our product colorants to produce the closest visual match possible.  Once a visual color match is achieved, the color formula is recorded, master samples of the color are stored and product samples are shipped to the customer for evaluation.

How does ICD achieve reliable success in color matching and how do we consistently reproduce those exact colors indefinitely?

Because color matters, ICD engages in the following practices to ensure the best color matching and repeatability in the industry:

  • ICD’s color match technicians undergo evaluation, using the Farnsworth-Munsell 100 Hue Color Vision Test, to certify that only those with the highest color acuity are qualified to match colors.
  • Verification of all matches is provided by an Expert or Supervisory color match technician.
  • New pigments are continuously sought, evaluated and subjected to qualification tests to help provide for our best possible color matching capabilities in providing solutions for our customers.
  • Color master standards are measured by some of the industry’s most advanced spectrophotometers and the spectral data is stored in our computer databases for ready access.
  • Color tolerance (the maximum difference allowed between a color master and batch trials) is strictly held to a Delta E value of 0.20—arguably the coatings industry’s tightest tolerance!

So, which tomato is “red?”  Take your pick!  The more important question is, “Which tomato’s color do you prefer?”  Our goal, at ICD, is to consistently provide our customers with quality coatings made in the exact colors they want.  If we can match it, they can depend on receiving those exact colors every time they’re ordered!

Question:  Your world is full of color!  In what ways does color matter to you?

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“How Do I Know That Technician Is Qualified?” – ICD’s Certification Program

Remember the first time you took your car into a new service center for routine service or repairs?  Did you do any advance research on the reputation of the shop before booking the appointment?  Did you look for some assurance that the technicians working on your vehicle were qualified to do the job? Like many others of my generation forward, I didn’t spend much time under the hood learning how everything works (and why things sometimes don’t work)—so I occasionally need to depend on trained specialists to keep me on the road.

How can I know I’m dealing with “trained specialists?”  Well, unless I know them personally, I can’t know with absolute certainty—but I will invariably look for a shop that employs ASE Certified Technicians.  Because of the rigorous elements built into the ASE certification process, involving combinations of significant experience and testing, I feel confident entrusting my vehicle to those qualified by it.

At ICD, we strive to provide our customers the highest level of confidence in the quality of our products and services.  We believe that the “assurance” is just as important as the “quality” in our quality assurance.  That is to say, our customers deserve a product of the utmost quality that they can be assured they will receive every time they place an order.

So, how can we improve our ability to instill this confidence?  One way is to develop and initiate a robust and thorough certification program for our production employees.

ICD’s Certification Program will ensure our technicians are qualified through:

  • A minimum six months of specific, department-level experience prior to eligibility for certification.  This will provide necessary time for adequate training at each operation.
  •  A minimum proficiency at department-specific job skills and a sustained level of overall work efficiency prior to eligibility for certification.  This will help assure the technician is best prepared for the certification process.
  •  A “start to finish” certification test.  This test, conducted by a facilitator from outside production, will require technicians to demonstrate their ability to complete order processing, within a department’s operation, exact to ICD’s work instructions.
  •  A written exam.  This exam, also developed directly from current work instructions, will measure the technician’s job knowledge and comprehension of critical concepts.

In the area of auto mechanics, I need to trust trained and skilled technicians with many things I may not know a whole lot about—but I do know and expect quality and performance every time.  Our customers may not have an in-depth understanding about everything that goes into the manufacturing of our products, but they also know and expect quality and performance—every time.  And we want to exceed our customer’s expectations—every time.  That is one of our core values.

ICD’s Certification Program will become an important step toward ensuring fulfillment of that value.

Question:  What improves your confidence in a company’s ability to provide you the very best?

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