2019 Sustainability Report
Committed to using financial, natural and human resources wisely without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs
Establishing quality control standards to meet customer expectations with every order and every delivery.
The quality of our products lies at the heart of our business. We hold ourselves to the highest standards, as product quality is non-negotiable for our customers. Every year, our customers’ expectations increase, leading us to focus on continuous product quality improvement. Greif’s financial success depends on our capacity to reliably produce high-quality, defect-free products that meet the applicable specifications at all of our manufacturing facilities.
Reduced by 52 percent since 2015 in our RIPS North America business.
We evaluate product quality based on the structure and integrity of our products and compliance with applicable specifications for each item we manufacture. In 2019, 52 percent of Greif’s approximately 250 eligible global production sites were certified to ISO 9001 standards for quality management. 100 percent of Flexible Products & Services (FPS) and Tri-Sure sites and 91 percent of Rigid Industrial Packaging & Services (RIPS) sites globally are ISO 9001 certified. We actively maintain product quality centrally through our quality standards and track performance on two product quality indicators: Corrective Action Rate (CAR) and total customer complaints. Additionally, select facilities use order reliability rate as a product quality indicator. Each month, regional presidents, vice presidents and general managers are updated on our performance on these indicators.
We use our integrated quality system, Greif QS, to communicate quality standards to our production network. Greif QS houses a suite of applications that ensure quality and consistency in our product processes throughout all of our facilities. Examples of these applications include:
While each facility implements the applications most relevant to their operations, Greif QS enables us to utilize critical control points in the manufacturing process to discover and correct deviations from production specifications before a potential defect has the opportunity to negatively impact production or reach a customer. Potential quality issues are reported through our ERP system. When a quality issue is identified, corrective procedures are documented and conveyed through the appropriate communication channels. If we identify a recurring product quality defect, we launch a Product/Process Audit, which is conducted by an internal team of engineering, quality and product representatives. The team uses specific criteria to assess a facility against the processes, standards, equipment and tools that were used during production. This enables the team to work with the facility to resolve the reoccurring issue and improve the product quality process. Evaluation teams also leverage our root cause corrective action tool that allows us to assess the severity of a quality complaint based on a number of indicators, including financial impact, frequency and type of complaint. By providing objective criteria to evaluate complaints, the process allows us to better prioritize and address the highest risk complaints. As part of the Caraustar acquisition and integration, legacy Caraustar sites have begun using Greif QS to manage customer complaints in addition to their existing quality management systems. Additional Greif QS applications will be implemented at legacy Caraustar facilities as systems continue to be integrated.
We continue to use our Quality Management System (QMS) scorecard to better evaluate the performance of the applications within Greif QS. The scorecard generates an organizational health report based upon all the tools centralized within Greif QS, including customer complaints, internal corrective actions, management reviews and supplier evaluations. The Greif QS Steering Committee, consisting of quality leaders from our RIPS, Tri-Sure and FPS divisions, reviews all applications and requests for new applications to determine and prioritize improvements that will provide the most benefit and improve product quality performance globally. The committee supports regional Quality Councils comprised of regional, business unit and product management leadership.
In 2018, we created a Management of Change tool within Greif QS to identify and categorize changes to raw materials, suppliers, processes and other indicators that could impact product quality. Management of Change uses a series of questions to determine the severity of the change and initiates a review process prior to the change being approved for implementation. Once a change is approved, it is communicated to the impacted functions throughout Greif. This tool allows us to engage departments across the organization and generate tasks to ensure compliance. 2019 brought continued advancement of the tool, which now enables us to communicate changes to the commercial team, who can then notify our customers of changes as quickly as possible. We have incorporated our UN certification process into Greif QS in 2019. Within Greif QS, we defined the required specifications to achieve UN certification for our relevant products and can now manage the manufacturing process to ensure we remain in compliance.
In 2019, we continued to place an emphasis on improving our food safety programs. We conducted a market analysis on food safety requirements and practices, including topics such as sanitation, pest control and traceability, to establish a baseline good manufacturing practice (GMP) program to implement across Greif. Based on those requirements, we developed a new ISO/GMP system integrating our food safety requirements with our current manufacturing processes. At the end of 2019, 45 percent of our RIPS North America facilities were compliant with the new standards. All RIPS North America facilities are planned to be compliant by the end of 2020.
In RIPS North America, we continue to execute on our strategic quality roadmaps, which help us ensure that our product quality initiatives are identified through a standardized process, align to Greif’s strategic objectives, 2025 goals and support continuous improvement. Our roadmaps are reviewed annually by RIPS North American leadership and provide a three- to five-year plan for our focus initiatives and detailed project plans for short-term initiatives. Outcomes of the initiatives contribute to individual and team performance goals and contribute to improvements to CAR, customer complaints and ultimately Greif’s Customer Service Index (CSI) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) performance. In 2019 we improved our process for identifying focus plants by incorporating additional metrics into the process, including recurring complaints, severity of the quality issue and system utilization, into the evaluation process. Assessing these metrics allows us to address potential quality issues at facilities that may currently be performing well on CSI and proactively address concerns that could impact performance in the future.
Collectively, our product quality efforts allow us to continue to improve in the highest priority areas to our customers: leaks, on-time delivery, contaminants and aesthetic quality. In 2020, we will continue implementing our new ISO/GMP food safety system across the business. Our Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC) facilities in Houston, Texas and Ede, Netherlands and RIPS facilities in Jubail and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia will receive ISO 9001 certification. We will enhance our focus plant initiative by incorporating CSI, percent recurring defect and system engagement into our plant selection process. We will supplement our Product Process Audits that are currently part of the focus plant program with root cause problem solving activities, quality dashboards and Kaizen events.
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Data is reported for Rigid Industrial Packaging & Services North America (RIPS NA), Asia Pacific (APAC) and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) as indicated.
*CAR measures customer complaints per 100,000 units produced
**Order Reliability Rate defines the rate of failure between orders produced and estimates non-compliance with voluntary codes, reported for RIPS North America only. No regulatory failures or resultant fines have been identified.
In 2014, our CAR data indicated that leaks were the most common quality complaint from our customers. In response, we initiated a Zero-Leak Program to eliminate leaks from our products. When a leak complaint was received, it was escalated to the regional vice president and general manager and our engineering team was tasked with developing a concrete resolution to the problem and disseminate it to all facilities. Our focus on reducing leaks led to a 67 percent reduction in leak complaints from 2014 to 2018, as well as significant improvements in leakers in our Tri-Sure business. We are reevaluating and relaunching the program in 2020, complete with new metrics intended to help drive continuous improvement in leakers.