Quality can be broadly classified into Quality of Conformance and Quality of Design. Quality of Conformance is basically meeting the specified quality or the ability to hold to the specified quality of design. Quality of design is to do with meeting or exceeding customer requirement by improved design.
Quality of Design is extremely important, and it is said that design is only 5% of the product cost, but has a 70% influence on quality, manufacturability, serviceability, and general acceptance in the market. Customer focused organizations must continuously work on improving the Quality of Design; and improving the quality of design will also have a positive impact on the Quality of Conformance. For example if the specifications of the mating dimensions and other parameters are not optimal, there is a high probability of not obtaining the desired final product parameters; so meeting the specified design itself becomes difficult.
Typically organizations spend a lot of resources to ensure quality of conformance, which includes operational controls and inspection. Inspection and policing has become such a big activity because of non compliance to systems and procedures. I think while poor design quality could be due to lack of knowledge and competence, quality of conformance is more to do with discipline and attitude. Hence policing has become a major activity to meet quality requirements. I also think that this becomes a habit which evolves into a culture of being used to be policed to ensure that rules, procedures and systems are followed. This is evident not just in factories manufacturing products, but in almost all walks of life including the roads. On Indian road we see such a large police force deployed just to ensure compliance to traffic rules; I am not sure if any other country spends so much of resource for this activity. The level of policing is so high that at each traffic signal point we sometimes see a couple of constables and an inspector; and this seems to be quite normal for us. There is already a pretty good system of signal lights to control traffic, still why do we have police controlling the traffic? This is a clear case of resource being wasted in inspection or patrolling. The resource used here can be put to better use; may be making improvement plans and better designs.
There is no doubt that for growth and progress the quality of design has to improve, not just for purpose of customer delight, but also to focus on Design for Assembly, Manufacturability and Serviceability. But first we must ensure there is conformance, and this has to be met with improved techniques rather than utilizing human resource in excess inspection, patrolling and policing. In manufacturing for instance improved fixtures, computer controlled closed loop equipments, gauging and error- proofing is adopted as compared to inspection of finished goods. Even with good controls in place it is essential that there is adherence to systems and procedures and this calls for positive attitude and discipline. Following procedures with little intervention and policing brings in a disciplined culture and maturity to the system.
We must ensure there is conformance and this has to be met with improved techniques.
There must be a concentrated effort to bring about this change in the system and it is to do with human resource development. The challenges are different depending on the nature of the business and the educational level of people being handled, for sure the most challenging is when the people involved is as vast and mixed as the public on the road; but every problem does have a solution. I think several things can be done to improve the situation on the road. Some things that come to my mind are:
1. Public awareness campaigns
2. Clear and attractive displays of rules at the junctions including in the local language
3. Awareness drives at selected segments like educational institutes, offices, taxi and auto driver associations
4. Collecting data and identifying the major offenders and focusing more on that group; for example if auto drivers are identified as the major rule breakers, then there must be specific awareness for that group
5. Involving public in the awareness campaigns
6. Display of accident data with photographs, if possible at specific junction
7. Heavy fines for breaking rules must also be imposed, but this should be only to bring in discipline initially and not the only way of control
The resource currently used to control traffic at signal lights can be use to carryout all these improvements, which will also add to their development and respect in society.
The same logic can be applied to any system to improve quality of conformance, and utilize resources more effectively, for improvement and progress of system and society.
Pradeep Kumar E.T. A Master Black Belt in Six Sigma , is the Country Manager- Operational Excellence with Tyco Electronics Corporation India Pvt Ltd. Feedback can be e- mailed to email@example.com
Issue BG74 May07