I believe that quality starts from selection. It is a human nature that we select the best available, so if we have only one available then we are force to chose that, otherwise we select the best available one.
Selection is actually action or facts for carefully choosing something best in an informal way, but when something is being chosen out in a formal way (means in an organized way) it becomes inspection. So quality is actually wining the maximum and equal chances of selection (preference) of every unit of product or service provided to the customers in this competitive era keeping marketing factor constant.
Historically if we see manufacturer as a first step, were able to increase the preference/acceptability of their product or services by choosing the best by careful examining of final products i.e. companies has started final product inspection, to market produced units which has same and maximum chances of selection/preference. In other word one can say, this minimizes the competition between produced units from various batches on various times and in market every produced unit has the same preference means has equal chance for being selected by customer. On one hand final product inspection strategy improve the business by creating loyal customer as they receive same type of product every time, while on other hand this increase the loss for them because large number of units produced are not being sold due to any defect that make the produced unit to be dropped down from competition.
To reduce the number of rejected final products they adopted the strategy to inspect the product at every step of production. This is the origin of Quality Control (QC). This strategy definitely increase the number of units fit for market with nil or minimum competition between them. The main focus of the manufacture was to maintain the quality of manufactured product in maximum number of produced units. So in struggle of creating more number of fit product units, manufacturer try to get the answer for various questions like how to inspect, what to inspect and why to inspect. With the experience they find the answers and developed specifications, strategy, product detailing and by practically implementing all of these, they are able to create more number of marketable products. This is the beginning of Quality Assurance (QA). With the passage of time QA idea hit, and management of the organizations not only set the standard for final products keeping in view the final product acceptability but also they set standard for every step of processing including the raw and packaging materials standards. Then they plan to get desired product considering everything that could affect the final product acceptability of consumer.
QC and QA run always side by side. The more checks and detailed check (inspections) at various steps (Which is QC) is actually indication of good Quality Assurance. If some check (inspection) is missing at any step or checking (inspection) methodology is wrong in both the cases responsibilities goes to QA because they are unable to identify the desired check at any point and also they are unable to develop proper checking methodology.
Quality Assurance with the passage of time generates a Quality Assurance System, where ever thing is perfectly planned and organized using QC and even final product inspections methodology to have more number of similar product units, with more consumer acceptability in the market. With the passage of time manufacturer also start comparing their products with main market competitor having more consumer preference, and on the basis of evaluation, they start making necessary changes not only for final product standard but at all steps of processing adopting new approaches, technology, idea and thoughts and ultimately more management involvement came into existence. The main focus of all kinds of changes was to improve the product quality from main competitor, or otherwise at least have same level of quality (preference).
As QC and QA approaches only focus on the products and processes, so to include all other factors of an organization (like human resources, suppliers and other support functions) in the quality improvement process the next step was Total Quality Management (TQM). It’s a philosophy that involves every one related with the business or being benefited from the business, in quality maintain or improvement process. To improve, monitor and control the quality maintain/improvement process, various quality management methodologies are being used including supplier development, statistical tools, ISO, housekeeping, good manufacturing practices, good hygiene practices, Good warehousing practices, trainings, competitors product evaluation, market researches and etc. TQM involve all concerns to create maximum possible units of quality product having negligible difference among them and which can withstand the competing product in market. TQM involve all, in creating right type of product, if it is unable to do so, it could not achieve desired result. In TQM even a gate keeper is responsible for the quality product production, to understand this just gone through the mentioned example.
In a dairy company, on daily basis dairy plant receives the milk from dairy farm. If gate keeper does not have sense that milk is a critical raw material and he did not clear this raw milk tanker on priority bases, what would happened? The more the time he will take to clear the tanker the more the chances for spoilage milk he is creating. So though he is not directly involved in quality but still he may affect the quality of final product. One can find thousand of these kinds of example which indicates that everyone in the organization is involve in the quality assurance process.
Now a days, organizations are working for Six Sigma, targeting that out of one million unit produce only 3.4 units may be defective or out of standards. Six Sigma uses a set of quality managementmethodologies, including statistical methods, TQM and special infrastructure of people within the organization to achieve the set targets.
The motive behind quality evolution process was only to generate more profit by creating more number of competitive products with the highest preference form customer.
Note: This is author’s personal believe, anyone can has different opinion on any of above mentioned concept.
Shahid Hafeez Khan,
Quality Assurance & Product Development Manager,
A’Safwah Dairy & Beverage, a subsidiary of DCF Co. (SAOG)
Post Box: 1220, Post Code: 211, Salalah Sultanate of Oman.
Email: [email protected]