Quality in World Class Manufacturing

Quality has been defined-and re-defined-ad nauseum by various authors and practitioners. We will not add to the list of definitions here. A good working definition of Total Quality management (TQM) Was provide by Rohinton Aga., the late CEO of Thermax., TQM is a degree o)f excellence by which we .satisfy the customer’ (italics ours). This concise definition leads to three corollaries:

  • TQM is customer-centric.
  • Quality IS perceived as the responsibility of the entire organisation.
  • Since the customer’s needs are continuously changing, TQM must necessarily embody continuous improvement. Dahlgaard et al. (1995) have called it ‘a journey without an end’.

Critics may pronounce this definition deficient in a number of ways. For example, it may be pointed out that in today’s environment, we must delight and not just satisfy the customer.

However, we aver that there are no sufficient conditions when it comes to TQM. There are some necessary conditions and these are reflected in the definition.

Practically all writers on TQM (except those who see themselves as quality gurus in their own right) ritually begin their work with a paean to William Edwards Deming. We are told how

Deming’s first visit to Japan at the invitation of the Union of Japanese Science and Engineering (JUSE) in 1950, followed by that of Joseph M. Juran in 1954, laid the foundations of the quality revolution in Japan. Deming had predicted in 1950 that the Japanese would become world leaders in industry in five years. Relatively fewer writers have bothered to explain the basic concepts propounded by Deming and Juran.

Both Deming and Juran were disciples of Walter A. Shewhart, the originator of control charts and the Plan-Do-Study-Act (P-D-S-A) cycle. They had worked under Shewhart at the Hawthorne plant of the Western Electric Company in the 1920s. Though they were greatly revered in Japan before being rediscovered by the West, some of the leading exponents of agile manufacturing later rejected their approaches. Shigeo Shingo has harshly criticized the statist1cal approach to quality management propounded by Deming and Juran.

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