This is the attempt by a business to stop errors and waste from occurring at all levels within the organisation, and to try to encourage all employees to make 'quality' paramount within their daily activities (whether in production, marketing or personnel). There are a number of components of T.Q.M:
- Internal relationships between workers and their superiors and subordinates are seen to be as important as the external relationships that exist between the business and its customers and suppliers.
- TQM must be seen to be a policy that is followed by, and has the commitment of, all workers, from senior management to shop floor employees.
- The business must monitor all its activities and processes in order to identify any areas for improvement and to ensure that quality is being achieved.
- Team-working is important, since a group of people working together will develop a wider range of skills, co-operation, and higher motivation than if workers were performing repetitive tasks on their own.
- Regular market research must be undertaken to ensure that customers are happy with the level of service that they receive (any complaints can be used to improve the existing systems).
This is a group of workers that meets at regular intervals during the working week in order to identify any problems with quality within production, to consider the alternative solutions to these problems, and to then recommend to management the solution that they believe will be the most successful.
The members of the quality circle are also involved in the implementation and monitoring of the solution.
This should help to improve the level of motivation amongst the workers because it makes each person in the group feel valued and that they are making a significant contribution to the improvements on the factory-floor.
This is the ultimate objective for a business, to produce every product with no defects, therefore eliminating waste and the time taken to correct mistakes.
Zero defects can lead to an improved business and customer reputation, as well as increasing levels of both sales and profitability. In order for the objective of zero defects to be achieved, it requires the involvement of every employee in the business, making sure that they are all committed and suitably trained.
Kaizen is a Japanese word which means 'change for the better'.
A business will often be facing increasing demands from customers to add new features to their products, as well as facing pressures from their competitors who are producing new and improved products, or offering improved after-sales service.
The business will need to continually update and improve their products and marketing, in order to stay ahead of their competitors and boost revenue and profitability.
It is widely held that any aspect of the business can be improved, not just the production processes and, as with zero defects, it is vital that every employee in the business is involved in this philosophy, not simply those in the production department, but also those in marketing, finance and personnel.
Kaizen aims to eliminate waste, and reduce both the time and the costs of production. It links in with other concepts such as TQM, quality circles, productivity improvements and new product development.
The British Standards Institution (BSI) is the body that is responsible for setting quality and performance standards in UK industry.
The BSI 'kitemark' on a product implies to customers that it has been manufactured and produced to a high level of quality, and will be fit for the purpose for which it was advertised.
Quality assurance refers to the attempt to achieve customer satisfaction, by ensuring that the business sets certain quality standards and publicises the fact that these standards are met throughout the business.
British Standard 5750 (BS 5750) was the most common quality certification in the UK. It is now known as ISO 9000, which is an international standard that tells customers that a business has reached a required level of quality in its products and processes.
Quality of output is vital for retaining customer loyalty and, therefore, it is necessary for quality to be an important consideration in the design, the production, the distribution, the sale and the after-sales service of products.
Employee involvement and participation in quality programmes (e.g. quality circles and suggestion-schemes) will serve two purposes:
- Improve the overall quality of the output and processes.
- Help motivate the workers by making them feel that their contributions and their suggestions are highly valued.
Quality control is the process of checking the quality and the accuracy of raw materials and supplies as they arrive at the business, and also of the finished products as they leave the business en route to retailers and customers.
This is usually carried out either by quality inspectors or by the employees themselves. The philosophies of zero defects and Kaizen require stringent quality control systems, in order to reduce the costs and time associated with both waste and the correction of low quality output.