A recent post on the California Manufacturing Technology Center (CMTC) blog detailed what it called “four quality management issues on every manufacturer’s mind,” noting that challenges in quality management continue to trouble small and medium-sized manufacturers. Those issues are worth examining here:
- The culture of managing by departments
“Any existing corporate culture that was built over the years is often difficult to break up. Even in modern-day manufacturing, quality management is still widely viewed as the responsibility of the department that is tasked to implement it, such as the quality control department or the quality assurance department… Quality management professionals need to realize that quality management can’t work in a silo. Any effort at quality management should be an enterprise-wide initiative that encompasses all the aspects of the organization— from the CEO to the maintenance crew.”
- Resistance to technological innovation
“Innovation is not merely a shift in daily practices but the creation and adoption of new technologies to improve quality. In manufacturing, the implications of technological innovation are endless, often leading to radical changes in systems, processes, machinery requirements, and skillsets. Resistance to these changes creates barriers to effective quality management… [Surprisingly], employees and middle managers tended to embrace changes, but upper management saw the changes as additional burdens on resources and time, which leads us to the next barrier to change— legacy systems. Legacy systems can’t seem to fade away because businesses want to take advantage of the remaining usefulness of their legacy resources because of the heavy investments that were made.”
- Upper management’s unwillingness to provide additional resources and time
“In the EDB case study, managers generally agreed that they were more concerned with daily operations than they were with quality management, even though they recognized its importance. They contended that fixing errors and flaws takes time and they would rather delegate quality responsibilities to other people to better focus on their assigned tasks. As a result, upper management didn’t see the urgency to allocate the resources needed for optimum quality.”
- The increasing complexity of the supply chain
“Evolving trends in manufacturing have forced companies to expand into new regions where they can leverage lower production costs and higher availability of raw materials and qualified manpower. Globalization has also created more complex supply chains that require supply chain management throughout the world, further complicating quality management in manufacturing.”
Resistance to Change is the Main Barrier to Implementing QMS
CMTC concluded that barriers to developing a quality management strategy will continue to exist if organizations harbor a silo-oriented environment with resistance to change management. That resistance will only begin to weaken when manufacturers see a path to quality gains without the cultural, operational, and—perhaps above all— financial barriers that can be alleviated by implementing a quality management system.
Towards A Holistic Solution: Implementing a QMS
Tackling the price of quality goes beyond reducing the number of defects— it involves evaluating the entire Quality Management System (QMS). Smart Manufacturers must use a systemic approach to quality, and understand the relationship between prevention and failure costs. From Six Sigma projects to defect reduction and failure prevention, the effect of improving QMS processes.
Implementing a QMS allows verification of personnel training and certification, as well as equipment calibration. It reduces the cost of quality appraisal by using automated statistical process control (SPC) and facilitating better processes for appraisal costs on suppliers, source and receiving inspection and process audits. The result? Reduced cost of quality failures.
There is a natural cost trade-off between how much an organization spends on prevention versus how much it spends on fixing failures. In addition to the traditional way of reducing the cost of quality by reducing the number of defects, it is possible to tackle the efficiency of the quality management system itself to further reduce the cost of quality.
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