Costs of Total Quality Management
August 4, 2004
Morris De Rosa
Total Quality Management or TQM is a management strategy to embed awareness of quality in all organizational processes. The philosophy of TQM goes back to the 1940's when Dr. Deming started his quality endeavors in Japan. TQM is an approach for continuously improving the quality of goods and services delivered through the participation of all levels and functions of the organization. TQM aims to do things right the first time, rather fix problems after they emerge or fester. TQM is a management philosophy which seeks to integrate all organizational functions (marketing, finance, design, engineering, production and customer service
) to focus on meeting customers' needs and organizational objectives)' (Hammett 1). TQM may operate within quality circles which encourage the meeting of minds of the workforce to improve production and reduce waste. In a manufacturing organization, TQM generally starts by sampling a random selection of the product. The sample is then tested for things that matter to the real customers. The causes of any failures are isolated, secondary measures of the production process are designed, and then the causes of the failure are corrected. The statistical distributions of important measurements are tracked. When parts' measures drift out of the error band, the process is fixed. The error band is usually tighter than the failure band. The production process is thereby fixed before failing parts can be produced. It's important to record not just the measurement ranges, but what failures caused them to be chosen (Barfield 306). In that way, cheaper fixes can be substituted later, (say, when the product is redesigned), with no loss of quality. After TQM has been in use, it's very common for parts to be redesigned so that critical measurements either cease to exist, or become much wider. It took a while to develop tests to find emergent problems. One popular test is a "life test" in which the sample product is operated until a part fails. Another popular test is called "shake and bake." The product is mounted on a vibrator in an environmental oven, and operated at progressively more extreme vibration and temperatures until something fails. The failure is then isolated and engineers design an improvement (Packard 1). If a gearbox wears out first, a typical engineering design improvement might be to substitute a brushless stepper motor for a DC motor with a gearbox. The improvement is that a stepper motor has no brushes to wear out, and no gears to wear out, so it lasts ten times longer or more. The stepper motor is more expensive than a DC motor, but cheaper than a DC motor combined with a gearbox. The electronics is radically different, but equally expensive. One disadvantage might be that a stepper motor can hum or whine, and usually requires noise-isolating mounts. Often a TQMed product is cheaper to produce (because there's no need to repair dead-on-arrival products), and can yield an immensely more desirable product. TQM can be applied to services (such as mortgage issue or insurance underwriting), or even normal business paperwork. TQM is not a focused improvement approach. The customer desires and product tests select what to fix. Theoretical constraints are not considered at all (Packard 2). The basic objective of TQM is to do the right things right the first time and every time. "Quality is a moving target. It requires commitment towards sustained continuous improvement" (Hammett 1). The definition of quality is subjective; it is determined by the customer evaluating the component or process it relates to how well the product meets their needs. For many individuals quality is simply receiving a product that is worth its expense and performs as expected, whether it is an automobile that is reliable and trouble-free or a power saw that cuts true straight cuts. "Thus,...
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