Quality management practices in a Flexible
Manufacturing Systems (FMS) environment
Mohamed A. Youssef1 & Bassam Al-Ahmady2
Department of Management and Decision Sciences, Norfolk State University, Ver mont, USA & Faculty of Commerce, University of Ain Shams, Cairo, Egypt
abstract The use of Flexible Manufacturing Systems, hereafter FMS, and quality management practices cannot be separated. However, most of the studies by academics and practitioners in this area of inquiry, fail to examine this relationship empirically and comprehensively. This paper ® lls this void by examining how the use of FMS aþ ects quality management practices in manufactur ing ® rms. The uniquenes s of our study is that it overcomes the shortcomings of previous studies by broadly examining a number of quality management practices that range from the importance of quality to the use of quality tools and techniques. The Human Resource Management (HRM) aspect of quality management practices wa s also examined in ter ms of employee involvement and participation. The data use d in this explorator y study were collected from 102 companies in the following US industries: aerospace, electronics, industrial and farm equipment, metal product, and motor vehicle and parts. Our analysis reveals signi® cant diþ erences between FMS users and non-users. First, the users of FMS diþ er in most of their quality management practices from the non-users. Second, although both g roups emphasize quality as a strategic objective, signi® cant di þ erences in the cost of quality as well as in the use of quality management tools and techniques were found between the two groups. Finally, the FMS users place heavy emphasis on the HRM aspects of managing quality. The implications of these results are useful for both academics and practitioners. Introduction
The turbulent and ever-changin g business environment, especially in the past two decades, has caused a major shift in the way companies respond to their customers’ needs. In the early 1980s , quality was the major dimension on which a manufacturing company migh t compete. From the early 1990s , and with the emergence of Time-Based Competition (TBC), many companies have come to realiz e the strategic importanc e of time to their survival in the business world (Youssef, 1992 , 1993 , 1994a , 1994b , 1994c , 1995) . Qualit y and time, as performance metrics, therefore, are interrelated. Competing on the basis of time while ful® llin g the needs and expectations of the internal and external customers not only requires a certain level of quality, but also require s speed and agilit y in all that manufacturing companies do. YoYe and Kwak (2001 ) refer to the need for a `judo strategy’ in which organization s may compete and succeed against larger , stronger competitors through the use of speed, agilit y and creative thinking. It is our conviction that the use of ¯ exibl e manuCorrespondence : Mohame d A. Youssef, Department of Management and Decision Sciences, Norfolk State University, Virginia, USA. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
ISSN 0954-4127 print/ISSN 1360-0613 online/02/060877-14
DOI : 10.1080/0954412022000010217
© 2002 Taylo r & Francis Ltd
M. A. YOUSSE F & B. AL-AHMADY
facturing systems (FMS) can help attai n these competitive tools as well as foster enterprise integration.
FMS make s the transitio n to agilit y faster an d easier (Youssef, 1992 , 1993 , 1994a , 1994b , 1994c , 1995) . In addition, FMS can impac t almost ever y process at the operational level. Based on our examinatio n of the literatur e that is relevant to qualit y management practices and the use of FMS, we believe that this linkag e is not fully addressed, at least empirically and that this study is an importan t contribution to the existin g body of knowledge on FMS an d quality management practices.
There is a strong positive relationship between the use of...