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Production Part Approval Process

Lou Blaiotta on Monday, January 8, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

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Happy New Year, and welcome to the fifth year of the Columbia Elevator Products Blog Lou’s Lessons!

Last time, I talked about how we use a Quality Management System. Staying on the topic of Quality, I want to share a system that we use when we work with customers in our niche of the elevator industry. Because we supply products that are unique to an architect’s or an OEM’s specification, we must be certain that our quality is always right on the mark.

When Columbia Elevator is entering a long-term contract to become a regular supplier to an OEM or elevator installation company, we must demonstrate that we can build and supply the product according to specifications. Before the contract can be finalized and accepted, we prove that we can build and supply the desired design accurately in our facilities. Demonstrating production mastery makes us a desirable supplier.

To do this, we engage in a Production Part Approval Process or PPAP.

PPAP is a standardized process that helps manufacturers and suppliers communicate and approve production designs and processes by promoting a clear understanding of the requirements of both the customer and the supplier, Columbia Elevator. It also ensures that the established techniques/procedures are used consistently in the manufacture of parts/products at agreed-upon production rates.

To put it simply, PPAP is a work plan that is a result of a negotiation between our customer and us. It is the result of much dialogue and discussion regarding the customer’s and Columbia Elevator’s individual plans/specifications for how the product is to be built and how we can make a PPAP that satisfies both parties. Once each element of the PAPP is agreed upon, Columbia can become a regular supplier of an entrance, door, cab, or other product.

Engaging in PPAP processes with regular customers results in these benefits:

  • Ensures better communication with the customer
  • Reduces revisions and change orders
  • Reduces waste and defect
  • Increases sales & improves revenue stream
  • Sustains our reputation for high quality products
  • Maintains our place as one of the top independent elevator suppliers in the U.S.A.

Columbia Elevator



Quality: Metal Inspection Across Production Processes

Lou Blaiotta on Monday, December 11, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

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Huberney Rendon,  Bridgeport  Shop  Supervisor

Huberney Rendon, Bridgeport Shop Supervisor, inspects punched steel.

In my last blog post of the year, I wanted to take all this talk of Quality and manufacturing defect-free products down to a practical level with a concrete – or in this case steel – example. In the manufacture of our products, we use a lot of steel and other metals. When we are working with metals, metal inspection throughout the production process is key to manufacturing high quality products.

Before Production

As Columbia Elevator prides itself on building products without defects, we must be certain to use the best products for the job. A wide variety of defects, such as pinholes, inclusions, blowholes, scales, scratches, pimples, and roll mark, can be found in metal before we even start our work.

Quality Step #1: Metal Surface Inspection

  • Inspect sheet metal, laminate, or other materials you handle for surface defects before you begin to work with it.
  • If you encounter surface defects that look like they will be problematic in our production of a quality product, report the defects to your Lead Man or Foreman.
  • The Foreman will work with the Purchasing Agent to be certain that the quality of steel we receive from a vendor is of the quality we expect.

Metal Inspection During Production

As we work with metals, defects can occur in two other categories: Welds & Edges

  • A pre-weld inspection allows the welder an opportunity to prevent welding problems before they start instead of ‘fixing’ the problem while working by grinding out defects and reducing the mass of the steel or using excessive heat, both of which can reduce the quality of the product.
  • A post-weld visual inspection can help us determine defects in welding and edges before the metal goes to the paint shop.
  • Another post-weld check for defects such as welded joints, cuts, punctures, and scoring can be done by running a gloved hand over the potentially distressed areas; a glove will catch on any protrusions, showing that the weld is incomplete.

Quality Step #2: Weld Inspection

  • Conduct a post-weld inspection to verify the integrity of a completed weld.
  • Grinded defects should be inspected using a visual and glove test to ensure that sharp edges were not created in the process.

Metal Inspection During Transport through the Plant

Generally, a fabricated metal item moves through the production area until it is completed and then stored or shipped. As metal pieces move through the shop, damage to edges and surfaces can occur during handling. We take precautionary measures to maintain the surfaces and edges as we handle the materials, such as using appropriate techniques in the use of clamps, lifting devices, and movement of materials from one surface to the next. Additionally, it is important to wear all assigned Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) when moving fabricated metal items – especially clean gloves on newly painted surfaces!

Cleanliness is important throughout the fabrication process. Moreover, metal surface cleanliness is especially important in the painting process, which is why we always clean or wipe down metal before painting it to remove dust or metal debris that may have accumulated during cutting, welding, and handling.

After metal items have been painted and moved back to the shop floor, handling and crating are important to our being able to ship quality products. Painted parts can be handled only after the paint has cured to an acceptable level, and storage and handling of metal that is painted must be done carefully per our company procedures in order not to damage the painted finish and/or the metal itself.  

Quality Step #3: Production Department Inspection

Key to Columbia Elevator’s Quality Control standards, each production department is expected to inspect the quality of materials as they move through the factory. This ensures that we always deliver quality products to our customers.  

  • Happy Holidays to you and your family!
  • Columbia Elevator will be shut down from December 23 through January 2 so our team can enjoy holiday time with their families and friends.
  • I will be back with more Lessons in 2018!

Happy Holidays to You!

 Happy Holidays to You!


Quality Management System

Lou Blaiotta on Monday, November 27, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

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Columbia Elevator Hoistway and cab doors adHigh Quality Products
have always been a mainstay of Columbia Elevator Products. To provide our customers with the best products, we focus a spotlight on Quality!

Quality with a capital Q focuses on various factors in manufacturing according to ISO 9000:

  • Job management: defined processes and controls are followed so that products are made according to specified criteria
  • Personnel competence: knowledge, skills, experience, and qualifications of personnel are high so they can implement defined processes and controls
  • Assurance of Products: product testing is conducted to uncover defects as well as improve and stabilize processes and controls so that products go out to market per customers’ expectations

Columbia Elevator’s Quality Management Office, with help from a QMS Steering Committee made up of employees across all levels and departments, uses a Quality Management System (QMS) Manual to meet the overarching goals above. The QMS Manual documents all steps of our manufacturing process and provides evidence of our quality production steps. The manual, which is standard across all manufacturing fields, can be shared with our customers if they request to see it. 

A few of the many items that are documented in the QMS Manual:

  • History of Columbia Elevator and our product lines
  • Quality Objectives
  • QMS Planning System
  • Process Flow Charts for multiple processes across all company departments such as Engineering, Purchasing, Production, Human Resources

The QMS Committee follows our company’s commitment to continuous improvement across all departments and regularly updates our QMS Manual whenever there is a change in any of our processes. Keeping our manual up to date allows us to be a successful manufacturer with no questions asked!