Company Profile: Holland is a dedicated engineering-driven company that excels at developing partnerships with our customers to deliver comprehensive and progressive transportation solutions for the railroad and related industries. We are the market leader in flash-butt and thermite welding technologies in both fixed plant and mobile environments, and our turnkey track maintenance services and track testing geometry systems are unmatched in the industry. By creating true solutions-focused partnerships with our customers, Holland also provides customized rail car products, locomotive, transloading and rail car servicing solutions.
Challenges: Class 1 Railroads make up the largest segment of Holland’s customer base. They have a rigorous set of quality requirements that the company has consistently met for over 20 years. Recently, the Class 1s have added several new requirements more typical of the Automotive industry. The Holland team was being asked to do things they have never had to do before. Additionally, Holland has little turnover, and most employees have never been exposed to the very specific ways of doing things native to Automotive methodologies.
Solutions: Because Holland is a ‘learning organization’, we were up to the challenge presented by our customers’ additional requirements. Holland and Illinois BIS have worked together as partners to educate our employees for over 20 years. Grant funding has enabled Holland to offer far more training than we would have been able to do without this resource. To address the new specific Automotive-like requirements, BIS conducted training in Design of Experiments (DOE), which gave us additional ability to work with more complicated problems and improve our ability to statistically analyze data to prove to our customers that our processes are capable.
The APQP / PPAP training conducted by BIS directly impacts our ability to meet customer demands. One of our largest welding customers has required that we start doing PPAPs as part of their contract renewal process. Our largest customer for railcar securement devices is consistently looking for better and more robust control plans and inspection processes. Indications from our Industry’s quality conference this year show that APQP/PPAP is very likely to become part of our customers’ standards, so this training is now critical for Holland to be ahead of the game!
The Green Belt and Black Belt trainings provided by BIS are critical to enhance our problem-solving skills and increase our ability to design a process right the first time. The training BIS has provided is also correlated to helping us maintain, re-certify and gain new certifications. We recently ‘upgraded’ our ISO 9001 certification to the current standard for our manufacturing divisions, and the Green Belt Black Belt/APQP/PPAP training helped us do that effectively. The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has a M-1003 standard that is our industry equivalent of TS-16949 (now IATF 16949) or ISO 9001. We already had this certification for securement devices manufacturing, but additional customers have now started requiring this as part of us doing business with them as well. The expertise provided by BIS instructors, especially John Pop and Michael Pop, have helped Holland overcome our challenges and grow our business in Illinois.
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