WHY MANAGING IT MATTERS
Southwire’s products are foundational to modern infrastructure and intended to last for decades exposed to the elements or hidden behind walls. Our products are in hospitals, transportation systems, the power grid and other high-reliability industries, meaning people’s lives depend on Southwire’s product quality and safety. Our products enhance safety and minimize ergonomic hazards, enabling customers and end users to do more work with less effort. Southwire must continue to produce dependable, best-in-class products on which customers and end users may safely rely, minimizing the risk of a product or solution recall or warranty claims that could present a major financial liability for Southwire.
Product Quality & Safety extends from our supply chain through to end users. From product design and specification of the materials we purchase, to the people and equipment we use to manufacture high-quality products, to the training we provide on the safe installation of our products, Southwire directly impacts our product quality and safety.
Southwire cares deeply about our customers and end users—keeping them safe is the right thing to do. Beyond protecting customer safety, ensuring our products perform—that they are safe, fit for purpose and durable—safeguards Southwire’s financial success.
While Product Quality & Safety is the responsibility of all employees, Southwire has a strong governance structure to ensure our products maintain high standards of safety and quality. During the manufacturing process, our production employees conduct product quality tests, which their supervisors review for accuracy. Quality inspectors—Southwire’s lab technicians—perform certified tests for compliance by taking samples and certifying performance; this information is stored in a database for traceability and, in some cases, when requested, reported to customers. Third party auditors conduct spot checks on finished products to ensure they meet listing requirements.
Directors are responsible for product quality of specific product lines, supported by plant managers and supervisors, inspectors and Southwire’s global quality leader, who is focused on enterprise-wide quality. Southwire’s vice president, quality reports to our senior vice president, sustainability, environment, health, safety and quality, who reports to Southwire’s executive vice president/president, international & operations development. Southwire’s chief executive officer has ultimate accountability for product quality and safety.
In the Construction Systems & Solutions Group (CSS), Southwire’s director of contractor solutions professionals ensures all policies are enforced. Our senior vice president, contractor solutions leads the combined efforts of field service, training, and the data center vertical market. Southwire’s executive vice president, Construction Systems & Solutions Group is accountable for the quality and safety of all CSS products.
Southwire strictly adheres to test plans, which determine the frequency of quality tests, both in the manufacturing process and for finished products. We updated our Quality Policy in the third quarter of 2017, expanding the scope to be enterprise-wide rather than focused only on product and service quality. See Related Resources for this current version of our Quality Policy. In addition, upon forming our Contractor Solutions group in January 2017, Southwire created a policy for all Contractor Solutions personnel to have OSHA 10 certification and all necessary personal protective equipment before they can go to a job site.
Southwire is working to upgrade the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certifications for our wire and cable manufacturing facilities from ISO 9001:2008 to ISO 9001:2015. With this new standard, we are focused on identifying and prioritizing risks to Southwire and our stakeholders and addressing those risks through our management system. Southwire’s Corporate Headquarters, the Carrollton Building Wire Plant, and York Customer Service Center all passed their Stage 1 assessments in 2017. During 2018, 15 facilities, including headquarters, will complete their Stage 2 audits and achieve full certification.
In 2017, Southwire began developing an enterprise-wide quality system that will engage stakeholders across our entire company, from the supply chain to manufacturing functions and service providers. This system uses ISO, our metrics, and our new SAP capability to drive fact-based decision-making and allow Southwire to quickly identify and address issues that need to be improved.
Common injuries sustained during the installation of wire and cable at job sites include back strain and cuts. Southwire designs our products to minimize the potential for these injuries. Our solutions simplify contractors’ lives by minimizing job site hazards, redistributing labor hours to get to the next job faster and increasing profits. For example, Maxis Jax™ Reel Stands and SIMpull Solutions® minimize or eliminate the need to lift reels in preparation for installation. Southwire’s Tools & Equipment business is focused on contractor safety, with wire cutters and crimpers designed to remove knives from the job site.
Beyond product design, Southwire’s Contractor Solutions personnel travel to job sites and industry associations to increase awareness and train contractors on the safe use of our products. In 2017, Southwire trained more than 2,000 apprentices through sessions at the Electrical Training Alliance (ETA) (previously called NJATC) and National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).
Additionally, Southwire’s state-of-the-art Thorn Customer Solutions Center showcases our Contractor Solutions product portfolio and provides education and hands-on training for contractors, channel associates, and industry training partners. At more than 18,000 square feet, the Thorn Customer Solutions Center includes classrooms, demonstration job site environments and conference rooms. We trained more than 1,000 contractors at the Thorn Center in 2017, far exceeding our target to train as many as 150 contractors by the end of 2017. As a result, Southwire increased our 2018 goal to train an additional 1,000 contractors at the Thorn Center plus 2,000 more through the ETA.
In March 2017, Southwire launched a campaign to address contractors’ safety concerns. Each month, a blog article highlighted how to “make the impossible possible.” This campaign received more than a million views on social media, indicating the demand for safer installation solutions.
To track our Product Quality & Safety performance, we measure the number of returns as a percentage of total revenue. We also track non-conformance per million feet of product and have stated improvement goals; starting in 2018, these improvement goals will be tracked and integrated into the strategy deployment of the entire operations team.
In the unlikely event of a recall, Southwire publishes details about the specific products affected and reasons for the recall.
Southwire is pleased to report that, in 2017, we had zero incidents of non-compliance with regulations resulting in a fine, penalty or warning.
Quality Related Credit & Return Dollars (Percent of Gross Revenue)
External Non-Conforming Parts: Wire & Cable (Parts per Million Feet)