Total Quality Management (TQM) is a set of practices applied throughout the company aimed at ensuring that it meets customer’s requirements (Singh et al. 61). TQM focuses on process controls and measurement as a means of continuous improvement. Edward Deming is considered to be the father of modern quality. He strongly held the view that to achieve the highest level of performance. Companies require more than a good philosophy. Japanese companies such as Sony and Toyota adopted Deming’s concepts and became world class leaders in their fields (Herbert et al. 62). He taught Japan’s manufacturers to produce top quality products economically. A few American companies also sought his assistance, for instance Ford Motor Company, which managed to produce one of the best-selling cars of all time, the Ford Taurus, after suffering losses for a long time. In the 1980s, it was losing $1.5 billion a year with the worst reliability and quality reputation of all motor companies in America. Projections show Ford likelihood of overtaking GM as the largest automaker in America, an achievement it owes to Deming. In contrast to Western management wisdom that emphasizes on top bottom, fear-based manner, Deming’s brilliant systems focuses on integrated systems approach with the aim of optimizing the entire system (Tools. n.p). The key principle in this approach is to satisfy customers and retain them. His approach is simple yet it requires patience, time, and commitment if a company is to realize its full impact (Singh et al. 62).
According to Herbert et al. to counter the increased competition and loss of market shares, companies are turning to Quality Certifications such as ISO 9000 (65). This is a standard for quality management and assurance in the manufacturing and service industry. The certification is used as a marketing tool indicating to customers that the company has put efforts to get its procedures and systems in order enhancing their confidence that the quality function is being performed effectively.
The Six Sigma technique aims to improve a company’s quality to three defects only per million through careful statistical measurements of the outcome and a systematic, incremental change in processes (Singh et al. 63). Big and leading companies characterized by widespread process management initiatives have probably reached their limits of improvement. Moreover, the ability to gain their competitive advantage through cost and efficiency gains has also reached the limit. Once the competitors are also adopting the same practices, it becomes difficult to maintain a competitive advantage thus the need for new advantages (Tools. n.p). Companies such as IBM, Motorola, AlliedSignal, and GE, pharmaceutical firms, and manufacturers of consumer products such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble have admitted a renewed attention to gaining competitive advantage through innovation.
Control charts are statistical techniques for quality control used in monitoring and evaluation of the performance of the operational process. They provide a corrective action in cases where the output does not meet standards.Companies seek to maximize profit by improving product quality, reducing waste, improving customer value, and improving productivity. An example is a Jordanian manufacturing Company use of quality control tools to reduce process variability and improve the product. Control charts are used in studies of processes where characteristics is a measurement, for instance, cycle time, waiting time, processing time, area, highest, cost or revenue, and cycle time (Singh et al. 64).
Check sheet is used to ensure that data collected by operating personnel is accurate. The form of a check sheet used is individualized for each situation and is designed by the project team. Check sheets are created by tallying each type of defects during a given time. It presents all types of defects and the number of each type that occurred during a given period. Keeping track of this kind of data provides the management with information on which they can base improvement actions (Herbert et al. 64).
The process of production is subject to variations; however, of concern is whether the level of a processes’ variation is within the accepted range. Random variations are the natural variation of the process as a result of combined influences of numerous minor factors (Tools. n.p). Non-random variations occur when the main cause of the output variation is identifiable and subject to elimination. Examples of non-random variation are adjusting of equipment, tool wear, human factors, and defective materials. Variable charts are used in pairs where one chart studies the variation in the process while the other the process average. Control charts facilitate the achievement of similar gains in the manufacturing industry through saving of scrap, labour, reduced inspections, rework costs, more consistent part characteristics, lower trouble shooting, greater operator confidence, and higher product quality. Effective use of quality control tools can be beneficial to companies by minimizing waste and maximizing on resource use to promote productivity.
Stratification is a technique that separates data that has been gathered from different sources so as to establish some patterns (Singh et al. 65). Stratification should be used before collecting data, when data is retrieved from various sources, and when data analysis requires separating of the different sources. Before you embark on data collection, consider if the information about data sources have effect on the results then set up the data collection in a manner that enables collection of that information, as well. Different colours are then used when plotting the data on a control chart, scatter diagram, or another analysis tool. Analysis of the stratified data is then done separately.
The diagram below shows the ZZ-400 manufacturing team scatter diagram used to test whether iron contamination and product purity were related. However, the team realized that this data was from three separate reactors. They then drew the diagram but using a different symbol to represent data from each reactor.
From the diagram, it is clear that purity decreases as iron decreases for the two reactors, 2 and 3. Something is different in reactor 1 presented by the solid dots not circled (Singh et al. 66).
Pareto diagram is a graphical presentation used to show the frequency of faults in ranking orders. The basic underlying principle of this technique is that about 80 percent of problems in most cases are caused by a 20 percent of the cause types of problems such as machines, people, parts, and processes. This implies that by concentrating on the major problem first you are able to eliminate most of the problems (Herbert et al. 65).
In a company with very many customers and the personnel are required to periodically submit expense claims and be reimbursed from a client of the company, Pareto charts are a useful tool. The nature of this business requires that an employee submits their expense accounts for review to a central office. They were then transcribed into a format for company’s client. It took prolonged time for the personnel, customer, and centralized administrator to process the expense account. Through analysis of the Pareto Chart they were able to improve the claims handling process. They prepared a standardized guideline that was capable of meeting all clients’ requirements for expense claim submission (Singh et al. 67).
Histograms are the most used tools for showing frequency distribution. It shows how often a given value within a set of data occurs (Herbert et al. 66). They consist of tabular frequencies presented as adjacent rectangles that are erected over discrete intervals. The height each rectangle is equivalent to the interval frequency density. The histogram’s total area is equivalent to the number of the data (Tools. n.p.).
Histogram helps to identify the process location and the variation. It should be used when dealing with set of data with related values and when there is need to visualize the spread, shape, and central location of the data.
Scatter diagrams are graphs presenting numerical data of variables on each axis used to establish relationships (Herbert et al. 67). A town planning team could also use scatter diagrams during a road accidents investigation with a number of possible causes. The three main causes were identified as speeding vehicles, traffic density, and local weather conditions. Since they did not have clear evidence on the causes they decided to measure them. They used scatter diagrams to check if the link between any of the causes was likely strong enough to take further action. To acquire sufficient measures they were to make daily measures for two months though the use of reports from ambulance services and local road sensors (Froholdt et al. n.p). They then drew scatter diagrams for each possible cause against the identified accident count. The results obtained facilitated the following conclusions:
Fishbone chart also known as cause-and-effect diagram identifies many possible causes for a problem and helps to sort ideas into useful categories. It requires a flipchart and marking pens to develop. Once a problem statement has been identified, it is written on the Centre right of the flipchart. A box is then drawn around it and a horizontal arrow running to it. Major categories of causes of the problem are brainstormed and categories of causes as branches running from the main arrow. The four steps to using a fishbone diagram are:
Quality control is the process through which businesses seek to maintain or improve product quality and to minimize manufacturing errors are eliminated or reduced. It requires businesses to create environments conducive enough for the striving of employees and management. Quality control tools are devices or techniques used in understanding and improving production processes.
Herbert, David, Adrienne Curry, and Leon Angel. “Use Of Quality Tools And Techniques In Services.” Service Industries Journal 23.4 (2009): 61-80.
Singh, Lakhwinder Pal, Arvind Bhardwaj, and Anish Sachdeva. “The Impact Of Quality Management Tools On Performance: An Exploratory Study On Smes.” IUP Journal Of Operations Management 8.3/4 (2009): 61-70.
Gale Virtual Reference Library. Tools And Techniques For Quality Design And Control: Cases. n.p.: 2014. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.