Trends towards holistic thinking in "QUALITY MANAGEMENT"
(in Manufacturing Sector)
Quality as a concept has been widely used for the improvement in the performance of organizations. In its initial stages it was applied only to the manufacturing sector, but subsequently it spread to the services and other sectors. Over the years the definition of quality has been revised from being applied only to products; subsequently quality initiatives have evolved to encompass focus on customer satisfaction, continuous improvement, people involvement, empowerment of the employees, team work, data-driven decision making etc.
This study shall start by taking a look at the history of the quality initiatives and milestones over the years. There is ample evidence of attention to quality in the pre-industrial revolution era, as evinced in the legacy of the Egyptian civilization and other civilizations of that age. But it was the industrial revolution which brought into prominence "Quality" in managerial thought.
We begin with Eli Whitney's invention of technique of producing interchangeable parts as the first recorded initiative in quality management.
1798: Eli Whitney, Mass Production and Interchangeable Parts Best known for his invention of the cotton gin in 1787, Eli Whitney had a greater impact on modern manufacturing with the introduction of his revolutionary uniformity system. In 1798, Whitney was awarded a government contract to produce 10,000 muskets. He proved it was possible to produce interchangeable parts that were similar enough in fit and function to allow for random selection of parts in the assembly of the muskets. Throughout the next century, quality involved defining ways to objectively verify the new parts would match the original parts or design. Exact replication was not always necessary, practical, cost effective or measurable. Objective methods of measuring and assuring dimensional consistency evolved in the mid-1800s with the introduction and use of go gages that verified the minimum dimension of the new part. Correct replication of the maximum dimension was assured by using the no go gages that were introduced about 30 years later. Minimum and maximum tolerance limits, as measured by the use of these gages, provided some of the first objective measures of similarity among parts. These measures eventually evolved into specifications.
1913: Henry Ford and the Moving Assembly Line
With the introduction of Henry Ford's moving automobile assembly line in 1913, the need for redetermined part consistency became more acute. It was critical that only good parts be available for use so the production assembly line would not be forced to slow down or stop while a worker sorted through piles of parts to find one that fit. With the Industrial Revolution in full swing, ever increasing production volumes required different methods of testing and assurance to provide reasonable certainty the new product would be similar to the original product or design. It was no longer practical to test each piece against go and no go gages. Such testing was cost prohibitive, unacceptably time consuming and, in some cases, impossible, especially if the test adversely affected the functionality of the output. Therefore, methods to monitor the consistency of the process that produced the parts and the use of sampling, rather than 100% inspection, were becoming necessities.
1924: Walter Shewhart and Control Charts
The Western Electric manufacturing plant in Hawthorne, Illinois, is noteworthy because it was the breeding ground for many quality leaders, including Joseph M. Juran, W. Edwards Deming and Walter A.Shewhart. Shewhart introduced a new data collection, display and analysis form. It contained the first known example of a process control chart and signaled the beginning of the age of statistical quality control. The original control chart form allowed an inspector to...