Who is a member of society and does not hear the word “quality”. Information on “quality” such as “product quality”, “business quality”, and “service quality” is overflowing in everyday life. Here, we describe the general definition of quality, especially the basic concept for quality improvement in the manufacturing industry, and finally introduce the future quality maintenance and improvement method using IT.
What is quality?
Quality is defined in ISO9000 as “the extent to which a collection of inherent characteristics meets requirements”. In other words, the quality of work content. And not only in the manufacturing industry but also in the service industry and sales industry, the idea of quality is important.
There are several types of quality
- Product quality: Manufacturing quality (quality of the product) and design quality (desired quality)
- Quality of work: (quality of work, including productivity and efficiency)
- Quality of service: (How satisfied were the customers)
Even if the design quality is high, if the production quality of the production line is low, only the low quality can be done in the end. The manufacturing quality of the production line cannot keep up with the design quality. However, it is useless to put low design quality into production lines with high manufacturing quality. The design quality is always high because customer satisfaction needs to be realized. Therefore, it is ideal that the manufacturing quality of the production line is always maintained high.
The manufacturing quality indicator (production line capability) is represented by machining accuracy, throughput, yield, etc., but the ultimate quality indicator is customer satisfaction because manufacturing quality is designed to achieve design quality. Therefore, the concept of quality is also important in departments such as sales and maintenance.
In addition, it has become important in recent years to balance the quality of work with not only customer satisfaction but also the satisfaction (employee satisfaction) of working employees and employees, as expressed by keywords such as “black company” problem and “short time” and “work style reform”.
Concept of quality improvement in the manufacturing industry
The classic quality control concept in the manufacturing industry is Total Quality Management (TQM). TQM is a company-wide initiative to improve management and product levels. TQM’s principles include the Principles for Purpose, the Principles on Means, and the Principles for the Operation of the Organization.
In addition, it is characterized by “visualization” by organizing information using graphing and diagrams of data. The former is called the QC seven tools (histograms, Pareto maps, etc.), and the latter is the new QC seven tools (arrow diagram method, affinity diagram, etc.).
Let’s take a look at the principles of TQM.
Original rules on purpose
Keywords are “customer for post-process”, “market-in” and “quality first”. As mentioned above, the ultimate quality indicator is customer satisfaction, so if you create a product that captures the needs of your customers (market), quality will be improved. In addition, if the number of defective products is reduced, the reputation of the product will be improved and this will also improve the quality. It can be said that it is a principle to clarify the purpose of work because the production department is difficult to see the face of the customer and it is easy to feel that it is good to just make things.
Original Rules on Means
For example, we stabilize work by “standardization of work”, and if a problem occurs, turn the “PDCA cycle” to find the cause and “prevent recurrence”. In other words, since it is thought that the defect is caused by the work that is deeded from the standardized work, it is possible to find out where such work is occurring by the PDCA cycle and return the work to the standardized one to reduce the occurrence of the defect.
“Standardization of work” specifically refers to “mutualization” and “automation”. The bottom line is to divide and simplify complex tasks to reduce errors. In addition, if it is divided and simplified, it is possible to quickly detect, analyze, and respond to problems when they occur.
“PDCA Cycle” means P: Plan(Plan), D: Do (Execution), C: Check (Verification) A: Action (Action) stands for TQM-specific action guidelines for realizing the First, plan, try to execute, and then validate the results of the execution and act on the verification results. And it is important to continue these cycles on a daily basis. Ultimately, it is ideal that the daily actions of each employee will be carried out unconsciously based on the PDCA cycle.
Original rules on the operation of the organization
Keywords include leadership, participation in all, emphasis on education, and respect for humanity. This principle is primarily for managers and executives. Managers need to demonstrate “leadership” and promote “all-part” TQM. The reason why “everyone is involved” is that if there is only one worker with low work quality, the quality of the entire process will be pulled there.
In other words, a worker who does good work is more of a worker who “definitely does what is decided” in the actual work than having a good work personality. However, it is a problem to deny even the humanity of the person. Therefore, “respect for humanity” is important. And even such workers need to make efforts to “educate” without abandoning them and bring them as close to the standard as possible.
How to improve the efficiency of TQM activities using IT
TQM organizes information through graphing and diagramming, so data must be picked up from the production line. This can be automated with edge computing. In addition, at least if the organization of information by graphing is left to the computer, human beings can concentrate on analysis and decision making.
In addition, in TQM, the human inference is required in the process of estimating the cause from information obtained from data. Until now, we used to make this inference using a brainstorming method, but it is becoming possible to use artificial intelligence here.
By converting these tasks into IT, what has been intermittent in the extraction inspection until now can be performed continuously in near real-time. As product data exceeds the standard value, it may be possible to automatically alert you, as well as to infer the cause and display the inference results. In this case, it is thought that human beings only need to check and respond to the inference results. In other words, it will be possible to achieve both maintenance and improvement of quality and labor savings.
The use of IT is indispensable for quality improvement in the future.
I have discussed quality improvement activities in the manufacturing industry. Future quality maintenance and improvement activities are basically an extension of TQM. However, there may be a whole new method of quality maintenance and improvement activities that make better use of IT. In any case, in the 2011s, there is no doubt that the quality maintenance and improvement activities of the manufacturing industry will greatly evolve due to the development of IT equipment.