Lean Six Sigma Network 10 Year Celebrations

At the end of 2014 the LSS Network was officially 10 years in existence so it was fitting that we had a small celebration (lent was ignored for 1 day). I shared with the group the first official photo of the Network members taken back in 2004 but the reaction was so severe that I have decided not to publish here (needless to say the general opinion was that we have all improved with age so let’s just leave it at that). John Ryan, the Chairman of the Network was unfortunately unable to attend due to training demands, but Éamon ably took the chair.










Wilbert McIlmoyle attended the very first LSS Network meeting back in 2004 (along with Éamon and I) so he is officially our longest serving network member and so gets his own special photo.








Network Meeting gathering Feb 2015

It was as always a lively and interesting meeting with topics ranging from the Pros and Cons of FMEAs, holding Quality Clinics, Mistake Proofing in an administration process, Communicating project stories successfully, a look of some new papers coming down the line… to name but a few.
Always open to new members – if interested please contact



Rocking Horse Sh!t

You may have seen the article on Padraic O Maille in yesterday’s Irish Times Health Supplement.  I would highly recommend the book he wrote to anyone in any walk of life.  It is a wonderful story well told, intertwined with great advice and tips that will help you through the tougher days in life and in business.  I guarantee it will make you think and live differently.

If you only read one book this summer – let this be the one.  Highly Recommended.





We have spent the last ten years refining our HACCP systems and now retailers are requiring TACCP (Threat Analysis Critical Control Point) and VACCP (Vulnerability Analysis Critical Control Point).  Do threats and vulnerabilities have to be dealt with through a separate management system or can they be incorporated into our existing HACCP?

The key to making HACCP a management system that production, engineering, supply chain and not just technical understood was to make it logical, logic works in the Food Industry.  Central to this logical approach was the need “to control reasonable hazards”.  Unfortunately when it comes to TACCP /VACCP “reasonable” is a word that is rarely used.  Threats to business usually originate from “unreasonable” people or organisations but unfortunately this is the world we live in when it comes to supply chain management.

The first step for any Technical Manager is to source a guidance standard which will offer some advice.  PAS 96:2014 is such a starting point and when Tesco, McDonalds, J. Sainsbury, Hilton Food Group, Heineken and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) contribute to such a document it carries significant weight.

Personally I believe that TACCP is an unfortunate term as it implies that there will be CCPs in the same way that HACCP does.  This will not be the case as all the threats and vulnerabilities will be controlled by an FBOs pre-requisite programme.

Author: Denis Kiely

Learn more about TACCP on our 1 day training course – more


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Smácht Mór – A Food for Thought Friday

Many people start every year with great dreams and goals only to end the year with many of them unfulfilled and great plans that never got off the page.

The reason is simple – the achievement of goals requires one thing above all others, Smácht. It’s the Irish word for discipline. You need the Smácht to define your goal and you need someone to keep you accountable to achieving it – little by little, week by week.

This is why Pádraic Ó Máille set up Smácht, a network for business people all over Ireland with one thing in common, they want to put Smácht on their goals and make things really happen in their business and their life for the better.

Smácht Mór was recently held in Galway attended by over 200 business people from every walk of life. It was a day packed with ideas, tips, stories and life lessons from seven inspirational speakers; Pádraic, Tom Murray, Bobby Kerr, Joan Mulvihill, Annette Houston, Anne Tobin and John Concannon


When you have a day that starts with a session on “Put Yourself in Danger of Getting Business” you know you better stay focused!!!

The overall theme for the day was ‘Direction’ and the purpose was to inspire delegates to review the direction of their business, career and life. Padraic reminded us that by changing the angle of a golf club by as little as one millimetre, can make the difference between a hole in one and ending up in the rough. The same is true in life. Small changes, applied consistently over time, can make a massive difference in the results each of us will achieve in the future. But only if we actually begin those changes now. Apply Smácht.

Here is just a small flavour of the pick-ups from the day;

  • Set realistic goals, keep them short and simple (although there was another point of view in the room that suggests goals should be big and “scary”!!!).
  • Record your victories.
  • Learn from your mistakes and move on fast.
  • Innovate constantly – there is always a better way and savings to be made.
  • Surround yourself with positive people.
  • Integrity is what people will remember – don’t do anything you will regret.
  • People buy from people, not companies.
  • Without deals, a business will not grow. Deal making is the art of letting other people have your way.
  • To succeed in sales, you need to ask the right questions.
  • Resolve this year to live like a Buffalo charging head on into your worries and fears – thereby minimising your exposure to adversity.
  • And finally….Be remembered as an example, not a warning.

Lots of food for thought…

If you would like to learn more about Smácht go to




5S – How elements can be applied to Service related Process Improvement?

Many service related process (e.g. Insurance claims, processing a tax return) can be quite complex and cumbersome. It is only when these processes are mapped and clearly understood that opportunities to eliminate NVA steps and simplify a process become apparent. In many cases, the ‘As-Is Process’ involves navigating, through a maze of screens of different databases and information sources.

To redesign the ‘To-Be Process’, the Sort and Store elements of the 5S can be very useful to improve the process layout and flow e.g.

  • Simplify work screens in a software application or database by removing the unused or non-required work fields (Sort)
  • For those that are left over, create icons or shortcuts that are easy to see and access (Store)

Submitted by Éamon Ó Béarra, SQT Lean Six Sigma tutor


How will BRC Global Food Safety Standard Issue 7 differ from Issue 6?

The BRC project has been on the go since 1998 and there is no doubt that it has improved standards throughout the food manufacturing sector in this period but as with every standard that matures over time is its relevance declining?

ISO9000 suffered such a fate in the food sector as it was surpassed by FSSC which was newer and of greater relevance.  As one who reads many BRC non-conformance reports the same ‘low hanging fruit’ keeps appearing e.g. “No proof that blue plasters were metal detected.”  Do these types of observations really add value to the business with regards to Risk Management?

So what are the major changes to BRC Global Food Safety Standard Issue 7?
Supplier approval has been added to the list of fundamentals.  This was a given due to “horsemeatgate.”  The words fraud and integrity are a bit more prominent and Agents (Traders) are targeted.  There are significant improvements to ensure the integrity of the Supply Chain.  Clause 3.9 traceability has also been expanded with 3.9.3 being a new clause again focussing on raw material suppliers.

Another area significantly enhanced is customer focus and communication.  This is an area where the technical department must step-up.  The role of technical management has changed significantly over the past 24 months.  We need to communicate better both internally and externally so that the business needs of customers/retailers are understood by all in the manufacturing environment.

Learn what need to know about BRC on our one day programme…more

(Blog post based on draft standard of BRC Global Food Safety Standard Issue 7 which  will be published by January 2015. Audits according to the new standard will take place from July 2015)


Much Loved Campaign – show your softer side!

We’re delighted to continue to support to our chosen charity ‘The Blue Box‘ in their new “Much Loved” Campaign.


The Blue Box is a local Limerick charity that does fantastic work with children and young adults helping them to work through issues and traumas through the effective use of music, art & dance therapy. Many local schools sing their praises because of the great work they do, so all help is greatly appreciated.

To donate €4 to the “Much Loved” Campaign just text BEAR to 50300, then post & share a selfie of you and your favourite childhood teddy bear. In addition to raising much needed funds they hope to raise awareness of the need for a stable childhood, for all children.

Here’s our little SQT teddy bear selfie
…ok so he’s not actually our childhood teddy…and none of us are quite sure how he sneaked in to the SQT office but we’ve all got a soft spot for lovable rogues, so we guess he’s here to stay!


25 years and counting

1989 seems life a life-time away, it was the year Samuel Beckett died, Fair City came on the air and the Irish film My Left Foot won a number of Academy Awards.  It was also the year Lily Collison set up a new training company called “Shannon Quality Training” focused solely on the delivery of just one course, ISO 9000 Lead Auditor Training.

In November 1989 the very first SQT public training course was held in The Dromineer Bay Hotel, Nenagh and this is what the first booking system looked like…


Delegate No 3 was me.  Early SQT customers included Kostal, EI Shannon, Irish Cement, Pfizer, Alps Electric, Apple and Dairygold Co-op and I’m delighted to say that all are still valued customers 25 years on.

Obviously very few companies can exist on one product alone so over the years, many more expert tutors from industry have come on board, helping SQT to expand into lots of new areas of learning.

In 2001 Shannon Quality Training officially became SQT Training Ltd and towards the end of that year, I packed my bags as Operations Manager in Dell and proudly joined the SQT team as Managing Director.   Since then the team has grown to 35 very talented and hard-working tutors, all supported by 9 wonderfully dedicated office staff with lots of computerised booking systems.  To date we have trained in excess of 50,000 people from  small to medium companies to large multinationals both here and abroad.  This year so far we have trained in 22 counties in Ireland as well Denmark, UK, Isle of Man, Libya, Spain and USA.

The world of training has changed dramatically over the past 25 years. When SQT started out the overhead projector was in vogue and not a smart phone in sight – now every delegate has at least one device in their pocket with access to vast amounts of free information at the touch of a button.  Back in 1989 the internet was still in its infancy; Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and online learning were not even early concepts.  25 years on the training choices and learning mediums  available to people are truly vast.

However when you really think about it, SQTs’ challenge today is no different to that faced 25 years ago.  As professional trainers our job is still to help you understand the important stuff from the vast amounts of information out there, it’s about making learning real, it’s about engaging with you in a very practical way and empowering you with knowledge and skills to make a difference.

The overhead projector is long gone but we still have highly experience, industry experts delivering up-to-date training through direct communication, collaboration, analyses, critical thinking and problem solving…with the help of some clever technology!.

Not so long ago Mary Robinson said “we have 2 decades to save the world from permanent Climate Change”, so my wish for the next 25 years is for us all to stay cool, keep evolving and learning and together, mind the important stuff so that 25 years on we are all still here….still learning, still sharing.



Thanks for your continued support.


Update: European Union (Energy Efficiency) Regulations 2014


  1. Does your organisation employ more than 250 people directly?
  2. Does your organisation have an annual turnover of more than €50 million per year and/or an annual balance sheet in excess of €43 million?
  3. Are you a public body with individual buildings having a total useful floor area of more than 500m2 or an annual energy spend of more than €35,000?

If you have answered ‘No’ to the above questions, this legislation is voluntary for your organisation.

However, if you have answered ‘Yes’ to any of the above questions, you must complete a high quality energy audit by the 5th December 2015, notify SEAI once complete, and repeat this every four years thereafter.  Alternatively, you can have a certified ISO 50001 Energy Management System in place, which requires you to conduct regular energy audits to maintain certification.

hand-holding-bulbThese are the rules established in the recently published (October 2014) European Union (Energy Efficiency) Regulations 2014, which transpose Article 8 of the Energy Efficiency Directive (2012/27/EU).

If your organisation meets the qualification criteria outlined, but is not fully covered by ISO 50001, you will need to conduct a high quality energy audit to comply with the Regulations.

These audits must include energy used by your buildings, industrial processes and transport to identify cost-effective energy saving measures.  The audits must sufficiently represent the overall energy performance of the organisation and the reliable identification of the most significant opportunities for improvement.

Audits are to be conducted with reference to the recently published ISO 50002:2014 or EN 16247 1-4.  Lead auditors conducting the audits must be members of the National Registration Scheme. For your audits, your organisation must:

  1. Calculate its total consumption
  2. Identify its areas of significant energy consumption
  3. Appoint a registered energy auditor
  4. Notify the SEAI
  5. Keep records

In order to comply with the Regulations, the audits must:

  1. Analyse the participant’s energy consumption and energy efficiency
  2. Use life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA) instead of Simple Payback Periods (SPP)
  3. Contain detailed and validated calculations for the proposed measures to determine potential savings
  4. Be based on up-to-date, measured, traceable operational data on energy consumption and (for electricity) load profiles

The organisation should be aware that if it does not meet its auditing obligations, for instance by failing to do the required audits or notify SEAI of compliance, it may be prosecuted by the SEAI and is liable on summary conviction to a class A fine.


Find out more about comprehensive lead auditor training necessary for you to conduct your own energy audits here.


Submitted by Ronan O’Sullivan, Antaris Consulting
To read more blogs from Antaris, click here


Collecting Data – The critical importance of an Operation Definition

Let’s be honest about it. In many cases, collecting data (especially when done manually) can be tedious and viewed by some as a ‘pain in the backside’. This is understandable to a degree but imagine a situation where after spending 6 weeks collecting data we find out that it is inaccurate, it can’t be used and is in effect a waste of time. This issue can be due to the fact that we put no thought or effort into how we defined the metric in question.

E.g., a Food Processing Company was trying to baseline the Cleaning in Place (CIP) Process. In order to understand if here a difference in the CIP time by shift, product type, CIP types, etc. they set about collecting data over a 6 week timeline to answer some of these questions.

When the Project Team examined the data after the 6 weeks, they found there were some major differences by shift and the other aforementioned factors. Importantly though, this was not due to a difference in performance but by how the Metric was being measured.

  • Shift A was interpreting the CIP time as ‘from the time the equipment was stopped until it was started again with the CIP complete’
  • Shift B was interpreting the CIP time as ‘from the time the equipment was stopped until an acceptable micro test result for the CIP was back from the Lab allowing the equipment to be restarted’.
  • Shift C had another interpretation altogether

Unfortunately, it was then back to the proverbial drawing board!

The morale of the story is to agree on a very specific Operational Definition for a metric, include it on the Data Collection Sheet and even go as far as to give the Data Collectors a fictional pre-completed data collection form to use as a guideline.


Submitted by Éamon Ó Béarra, SQT Lean Six Sigma tutor


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