Published May 1992, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) Journal
"QUALITY" as related to manufacturing means achieving consistent results and meeting or exceeding the requirements of the customer. Earlier in this century the concept of mass production on long assembly lines with inspection as the final step predominated. Although the science of Statistical Process Control [SPC] was promoted in America by W. Edwards Deming, J.M. Juran, and Walter A. Shewhart, as well as the efforts beginning in the 1940's of the American Society for Quality Control (ASQC), their work was not accepted by American industry until 10 - 20 years after the Japanese began using SPC as the philosophy controlling the production of goods.
SPC uses statistical methods to identify and control variation in the manufacturing process. Using SPC to control production reduces waste and the cost of manufacturing, and offers the product to the market at a lower price. Additionally, the reduction of defects and "lemons" allowed longer product warranties to be given. The low prices and extended warranties captured increasing points of market share and the resulting volume further reduced manufacturing costs. As American industry began to see the effect that SPC had on the bottom line, we began to take it seriously, although belatedly. The histories of Drs. Deming and Juran and their post WW II involvement with Japan make for good and instructive reading.
A basic definition of TQM is "Doing the right thing, right the first time on time, all the time; always striving for improvement and always satisfying the customer." [DOD 1989]. Today, our government and industries are making a strong commitment to Total Quality Management [TQM], Customer-Satisfaction ratings, and Continuous Improvement of the process. The Dept. of Defense has expressed its commitment to TQM / SPC thru its Quality Standard, DOD 5000. DOD holds its prime suppliers to this standard who in turn are requiring their suppliers to conform to it. In the commercial market, a new Standard on Quality, originating in Europe and developed by the International Standards Organization, ISO 9000 - 9004 is being rapidly adopted and will be required of all companies manufacturing products to be sold internationally in the next several years.
These external forces are requiring that a new work culture be established. One which has the following characteristics: Corporate commitment to TQM, SPC training of all manufacturing personnel, implementation of SPC in all manufacturing areas, qualification and certification of company suppliers, "bench marking" where the quality system is now, with a milestone chart for improvement. This goal may be the reduction of defects measured in parts per million, or use of the criteria of the Malcolm Baldridge Award, and/or certification by the Prime Customers. In this new culture employees will play a greater role in controlling the production and quality of the product. This "employee empowerment" will be expressed thru Quality and Productivity Problem - Solving Teams which will make direct reports to Management Steering Committees. These teams will sponsor creativity and critical thinking, and help to continuously improve the product and help restore the pride of workmanship and a feeling of being in touch with one's work to the employees through recognition of team and individual contributions. None of this can or will happen without Management's strong support [RE: Deming's 14th Rule].
No introduction of Quality could be complete without Deming's 14 points:
TQM (with its emphasis on quality, individual responsibility, and customer-awareness), and SPC (with its elimination of variables affecting the process and its calling for employees to share governance of the process, and the new mandates for technical and statistical training for shop personnel) are the foundation of a new culture that will improve the way that we work and live. These principles mixed with High Technology form a common sense basis to improve our productivity, quality and competitive position.
Not only does "QUALITY" and its related philosophies improve the "QUALITY" of our lives, but also in the unlikely and unfortunate event that this movement toward QUALITY is not executed diligently and vigorously, the results would be the loss of even more manufacturing jobs, and plant closures. Without QUALITY as a Prime Directive in MANUFACTURING, our manufacturing base will continue to shrink. Manufacturing creates jobs and wealth wherever it is prevalent. The QUALITY movement can give us everything that we want: jobs, security, wealth, empowerment, pride of workmanship, and a strong, stable society with a high-quality-of-life.