TQM Approach

The importance of quality both as a means of ensuring customer satisfaction and reducing cost has become increasingly recognised over the past thirty years. The philosophy has shifted from Quality Control to Quality Assurance to Zero Defects and beyond, while standards such as ISO 9000 have sought to level on the practice.  Total Quality in fact means that quality is all pervasive through a company’s products, processes, procedures and systems and thinking - and is practiced by all.

The question 'What is quality?' may be debated at length, and there are many definitions. For now, lets assume it primarily means 'Giving the customer what he/she wants', and 'consistency'.

 Consider a manufacturing process. There are a number of ways it may endeavour to ensure the customer gets what he/she wants. 
1. The process can make good product, but is unreliable, and defects escape into the market. If customers complain their complaints are resolved. This is costly and may harm reputation.
2. Inspectors detect bad product at the end of the process and repair/reject it to protect the customers. This is costly and frustrating; deliveries will be delayed or costly buffers of finished goods required.
3. Defects are returned to source for rectification or rework. Costs remain, as in (2). There are delays in identifying problems so causes may not be apparent.
4. Defects are detected at source, causes will be more obvious. Delivery remains erratic, downstream customers are kept waiting, but at least they're not adding value to defective product.

5. Defects are prevented. Through improving products and processes we can assure delivery without incurring rectification costs.

There are a number of things which we have to accept if we wish to achieve the scenario depicted in (5):

  • The customer knows what they want. We have to ask the right questions in order to define the specification. Market research may involve anticipating consumer needs; we need feedback from customers. We need data.

  • We need materials and equipment capable of achieving what is expected, and products designed not only for market but for manufacture. We rely on those responsible for Design, Engineering and Sourcing to provide what is required.

  • We have to accept responsibility for our own actions. People need to be trained, directed and motivated. We look to Personnel and Training for their support.

  • We are all part of a team which is the Business; a team which is our particular Division or Department; and a team which consists of those with whom we work on a day-to-day basis. We can take pride in what we collectively achieve for our customers and shareholders, and satisfaction in playing our part as individuals. 

TQM primarily addresses the business as a whole, developing a state of mind  consistent with the above. Three major divisions of a manufacturing company may be considered as illustrated left.

Whilst GK is consistent with this, and the same disciplines prevail in all three divisions, the prime focus for GK is Manufacturing and its immediate support areas: 

Six Sigma is a similar approach which uses the same tools and techniques, 're-labelling' some and according the title 'Black Belts' etc. to the facilitators. It's simple (but not easy!) goal is to achieve six sigma capability of all business processes - a 3.4 ppb defect rate.


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