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Thursday, 21 June 2012 14:52

 

Quality management system

 

            A quality management system (QMS) can be expressed as the organizational structure, procedures, processes and resources needed to implement quality management. Early systems emphasized predictable outcomes of an industrial product production line, using simple statistics and random sampling. By the 20th century, labour inputs were typically the most costly inputs in most industrialized societies, so focus shifted to team cooperation and dynamics, especially the early signalling of problems via a continuous improvement cycle. In the 21st century, QMS has tended to converge with sustainability and transparency initiatives, as both investor and customer satisfaction and perceived quality is increasingly tied to these factors. Of all QMS regimes the ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 series are probably the most widely implemented worldwide - the ISO 19011 audit regime applies to both, and deals with quality and sustainability and their integration.

            Other QMS, e.g. Natural Step, focus on sustainability issues and assume that other quality problems will be reduced as result of the systematic thinking, transparency, documentation and diagnostic discipline that sustainability focus implies. See sustainability for more on this approach to quality management.

 

Elements of a Quality Management System

  • Organizational structure
  • Responsibilities
  • Methods
  • Data Management
  • Processes - including purchasing
  • Resources - including natural resources and human capital
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Product Quality
  • Maintenance
  • Sustainability - including efficient resource use and responsible environmental operations
  • Transparency and independent audit

 

Concept of quality - historical background

            The concept of quality as we think of it now first emerged out of the Industrial Revolution. Previously goods had been made from start to finish by the same person or team of people, with handcrafting and tweaking the product to meet 'quality criteria'. Mass production brought huge teams of people together to work on specific stages of production where one person would not necessarily complete a product from start to finish. In the late 19th century pioneers such as Frederick Winslow Taylor and Henry Ford recognized the limitations of the methods being used in mass production at the time and the subsequent varying quality of output. Birland established Quality Departments to oversee the quality of production and rectifying of errors, and Ford emphasized standardization of design and component standards to ensure a standard product was produced. Management of quality was the responsibility of the Quality department and was implemented by Inspection of product output to 'catch' defects.

            Application of statistical control came later as a result of World War production methods, and were advanced by the work done of W. Edwards Deming, a statistician, after whom the Deming Prize for quality is named. Joseph M. Juran focused more on managing for quality. The first edition of Juran's Quality Control Handbook was published in 1951. He also developed the "Juran's trilogy," an approach to cross-functional management that is composed of three managerial processes: quality planning, quality control and quality improvement. These functions all play a vital role when evaluating quality.

            Quality, as a profession and the managerial process associated with the quality function, was introduced during the second-half of the 20th century, and has evolved since then. Over this period, few other disciplines have seen as many changes as the quality profession.

            The quality profession grew from simple control, to engineering, to systems engineering. Quality control activities were predominant in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. The 1970s were an era of quality engineering and the 1990s saw quality systems as an emerging field. Like medicine, accounting, and engineering, quality has achieved status as a recognized profession

 
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