Quality and Its Management

Quality  today is everybody’s business, whether it is a company in an industry, or an educational institute like ours. Increasing competition demands greater emphasis on quality of product(s) or service(s) offered. Besides, with the improved buying capacity, a discerning customer, nowdays, expects products and services of superior quality. Further, it has been realized that quality also aids productivity. Hence, there is a need to have knowledge of basic concepts and practices of Quality Management. Soon, we shall be embarking on a journey to learn more about Quality Management, an open elective subject, for the Final Year students of B.Tech Programme of Gautam Budh Technical University, formerly U.P. Technical University, Lucknow.

So, what is quality? Let me explain quality with the help of an example. Take two students in a class; one performs better than the other despite both being given the same inputs by the teacher. Why does one perform better than the other? What is the difference?  Quality is the difference. Several definitions of quality exist. Here, I offer the definitions as given by the three pioneers in the field of quality control namely, W. Edward Deming, Philip B. Crosby, and Joseph M. Juran. Deming defined Quality in terms of predictable uniformity of the product. Quality, as per Crosby, is ‘conformance to requirements or specifications’ whereas Juran defined it as ‘fitness for use’. Simply stated,

Quality is the fitness of a product or service for its intended purpose.

What fitness signifies here is that the product or service should be able to satisfy the need of the user or customer by its performance. Now, would you be willing to pay a higher price for a higher level of quality?  Chances are that you may not unless you are a connoisseur willing to pay any amount of money or have a lot of money to squander around. Similarly, beside cost, delivery is also important. For example, if you need the product or service today but someone is offering you the same after a long time then would you be interested in it?  Again, you may not like to wait that long because by that time the need for the product or service itself may not be there. So, as budding engineers, you always need to be conscious that what a customer needs is the product or service of right quality, at right cost and at the right time. Quality, Cost and Time always go hand in hand.

Now, one of the ways to maintain desired level of quality is by, what is called, Quality control. Scientific quality control is all about observations and measurements. Perceived quality is difficult to define as it is governed mostly by culture, emotions and context. That is not an excuse for not observing and measuring, but a tip that even when we find all parameters perfectly matching, there still could be quality gap by perception.

What all does quality management encompass? As per Greg Bounds et al, Quality management is all about providing superior customer value by continuously improving the business processes and systems. Here, customer value includes benefits derived from use of a product or service whereas business processes and systems are the means that provide customer value. On the other hand, Total Quality Management (TQM) deals with continuous improvement by making things better through improvements not only in products, processes, and systems but also bringing about change in values, beliefs and assumptions about how business is conducted.

Generally, quality of work itself will lead to the quality of product. Work content, however, is governed by technical and task uncertainties. Providing a framework and process can greatly improve quality, but the art of giving framework and adhering to processes has been a challenge for quality processes.

During the next 40 lectures, we shall endeavour to learn more about Quality concepts, Quality control, Statistical Quality Control (SQC) techniques, Quality assurance, Quality costs, and Quality management. In addition, we shall focus on  Reliability, Maintainability, Motivational techniques like Zero defects and Quality circles, and Standards for Quality Management Systems such as  ISO 9000 series & IS 10201.

I recommend books titled Total Quality Management by H.Lal, Beyond Total Quality Management by Greg Bounds et al, TQM in New Product Manufacturing by HG Menon, Total Quality Management by Besterfield et al, and Fundamentals of Quality Control and Improvement by Amitava Mitra. Beside these books, I also advise watching and learning from videos available on the ‘You Tube’ on Total Quality Management by Prof. Kalyan Chakravarti of IIT Kharagpur and Prof. PC Basak of IGNOU. You may like to go through Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a book by Robert M. Pirsig, which talks a great deal about quality.

So, it is going to be an exciting time ahead learning Quality Management and I am excitedly looking forward to it. Aren’t you?

Lastly; “There is no substitute to knowledge“, with these words of W. Edwards Deming, the Quality Guru and the Father of the Quality Evolution, I sign off this blog post wishing you all Very Happy Learning…

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4 thoughts on “Quality and Its Management

  1. Gud that such subjects are being introduced into the curriculum of B.Tech programme.It increases the span of thinking of engineers who are just about to step into the organizations.Well written.

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