Quality is vital in business. It's a defining factor in the success of attracting high calibre customers, or losing the clients of a business. The levels of quality which a business has affect the levels of purchase by consumers.
High quality standards need to be maintained by businesses. Through the suppliers for raw materials to the finished products, quality must be guaranteed to be of a reasonably high standard. As a business grows it can make suppliers supply goods which meet its quality standards.
There are Trading Standards Departments, various quality institutes such as the British Standards Institute and government bodies which ensure that businesses are serious about the quality of the products and services which they offer to the consumer market. Ombudsmen services are employed to resolve disputes between consumers and specific industries which they independently police.
Quality Control and Quality Assurance
Quality control is very important for the business and enhances its reputation. It ensures that a minimum level of quality needs to be maintained and established by the business.
Advantages for the business are building up a strong brand and range of products, increase in profits through higher prices that ensures greater quality, minimises advertising costs as the brand is known for its unique quality, increase in the lifecycle of the product, strong consumer loyalty and affiliation with brand.
Problems with quality control involve initial identification of areas which need improvement. In the best interest of the business, this must be addressed before the product reaches the consumer. Methods which can be used include self inspection of the business, checking the quality standards of the business machinery and inspection of finished goods prior to the consumers receiving them.
The four stages of control are prevention, detection, correction and improvement.
A business that strives to maintain excellent quality control standards is on course for repeated success.
Systems of Quality Assurance
Total quality management TQM is a concept that was introduced in the 1980s W Edward Deming proposed this concept after studying Japanese manufacturing techniques. It requires every aspect of the business to be fully committed to ensuring high quality control standards from the initial design concept to after sales and final delivery of product or service.
TQM strives to surpass the expectations of consumers. Quality circles are an integral aspect of TQM. These involve regular group meetings that discuss quality issues and the provision of feasible solutions for the business. It's measured by cost reductions, quality improvement, employee attitudes.
This process compares a business with its competitors and sees how its quality standards are measured in comparison to the best practices which its competitors enforce and apply in their businesses. It's used to set business standards, analyse business performance in comparison with competitors, provision of new ideas and solutions to quality issues.
Kaizen is a Japanese term which means continuous improvement. When applied in business, every aspect of the business appreciates the importance of taking advantage of all opportunities for enhancement and development which will ultimately lead to delivery of the best possible products and services to the business.
There are several quality standard techniques which businesses employ. These include british standards, poka yoka, training and the five S's.
The british standards institute is the pre eminent standards body in the world, and the national standards body of the UK. IT operates across a broad spectrum from governments to manufacturing and from services to consumers. There are 27000 standards which cover every type of product or service. The most internationally recognisable standard is the ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems Requirements. Over 670,000 organisations use this standard across 154 countries.
Poka Yoka was a concept developed by Shigeo Shingo. It focuses on proofing a specific process or product against any possibility of mistakes. It strives to eliminate errors and if there errors, the products should be designed in such a manner as to instantly detect and correct such errors.
Training of the employees over a period of time is a vital way of ensuring they understand appreciate the work role and responsibilities which it entails.
The five Ss are central to production and quality. Based on the Andon system which enables workers to set up sign boards which should be used once an error in production has been made and can be detected. This is one of the principal elements of Jidoka system or autonomation. Seiri-Sort focuses on proper arrangement of work. Seiton- Shine focuses on orderliness. Seiso- Set in Order focuses on cleanliness. Seiketsu- Standardise focuses on after use cleanliness. Shitsuke- Sustain focuses on discipline.
Quality Systems and Management
The issues that revolve around quality can apply to products as well services and the processes involved in both. These initiatives cost money, they're very beneficial to the business. They're time consuming and there needs to be assurance of positive and long term benefits.
Training, Benchmarking, Total Quality Management, Zero defects, Quality circles, Continuous improvements.
These initiatives have tremendous advantages to the business. In order to enjoy continuous benefits there are several pitfalls which need to be avoided, undue pressure from stakeholders who need results and profits from the business who criticise the short term expenditure on quality initiatives, it can be time consuming, quality initiatives can be expensive in application.