March 24, 2017

Evolution of The Quality Management Philosophy and Practice






Till 1800, production of goods and services was primarily done by single person owned or family owned facilities. The quality of the item was negotiated and set by the individual owner-operator who was in turn also responsible for producing the item. This phase, which continued till Taylor's publication of Shop Management, that is the time period up to 1900, is now called the period of ‘Operator Quality Control’. In operator quality control,  controlling and improving quality of the product was aligned with the philosophy of pride in workmanship.

In the early days of factory of production, foreman became the most important managers of the factories. He is responsible for all management activities. So during the early days of factory production,  a second phase of quality management evolved, which is now termed as  the ‘Foreman Quality Control’ period.  Supervisors are now responsible to ensure that quality was achieved. We can imagine that he is doing some inspection. Also, the operator may not be directly talking to the customer now. Foremen or supervisors controlled the quality of the product, and they were also responsible for the shop floor operations.

The next phase of qual­ity is the ‘Inspection Quality Control’. With more complicated prod­ucts and processes it became impossible for the foreman to keep close watch over the quality dimension. Inspectors were assigned to check the quality of a product after processing. Individual product standards were set, and any discrepancies between standard and actual product features was reported. Defective items were set aside as scrap, and few items with minor defects are reworked to meet the specified standard or specification. This practice was picked up by Taylor, and inspection or quality foreman became one of the functional foremen in Taylor's functional foremanship model.  As we know, Taylor's function foremanship model was converted into line and staff model of management and inspection departments were established. They became very big also with plant level quality control or inspection head with many inspectors reporting to him.

In 1924, Wal­ter A. Shewhart of Bell Telephone Laboratories introduced the concept of statisti­cal charts to monitor variability of the process using measurements of product characteristics.  These charts were called process control charts. In the latter half of 1920s, H. F. Dodge and H. G. Romig, also from Bell Telephone Laboratories, proposed acceptance sam­pling plans for inspection. These plans proposed the concept of samples for inspection, thus elimination 100 percent inspection and saving inspection time. It is a productivity improvement innovation in inspection. But, it was stated that sample based inspection will give similar rate of outgoing quality as 100% inspection was giving. Industrial engineers adopted sample inspection plans in their productivity improvement practice. During 1930’s application of acceptance sampling plans was in full flow in industries. In 1929, Walter Shewhart with the help of American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), American Statistical Association (ASA), and Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS) created the joint committee for the development of statistical techniques for application in engineering industries.

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