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Evolution Of Quality Concepts In Manufacturing Industry

The focus of the manufacturing plants is on maintaining their popularity in the market. Sales growth and popularity are directly proportional to the product quality. Therefore, manufacturers understand the need to meet quality standards. In this article, we have summarized how over the last century the quality concepts have evolved.

Inspection-Based Quality Management
The origin of the concept of quality control is traced back to the European region of medieval times. That was the time when craftsmen started organizing themselves under guilds, which are nothing but craftsmen unions. The onus of maintaining the quality rested on these guilds.

Quality During The Industrial Revolution
Till the initial stage of the 19th century, the manufacturing sector of industrialized regions adhered to the craftsmanship approach of quality management. And, the transformations in the primary manufacturing methods led to the advent of American quality control systems, during the beginning of the 19th century.

Craftsmanship: Here, the craftsmen directly carried out sales of their offerings in local markets. As a result, they had added responsibility to ensure that the quality was maintained.
The Factory System: The factory system, an outcome of the industrial revolution, started to segregate the skills of craftsmen into specific tasks. Craftsmen and owners of shops were compelled to render services in factories. Quality was maintained with the workers’ expertise.
The Taylor System: In the latter part of the 19th century Frederick W. Taylor came out with a unique approach to management. This system was designed to enhance productivity without the need to take in more number of expert craftsmen. The excessive importance attached to productivity adversely impacted quality. To remedy this, inspection departments were created to prevent defective products from reaching customers.

Quality Control During The Second World War
In the Second World War, the aspect of quality attained more significance than ever before, as it was directly linked to safety. The entire equipment virtually every piece was inspected by the armed forces. This practice was not easy to implement. Subsequently, the procedure of inspecting every piece got changed and the method of checking random samples was introduced.

Similarly, when the scenario of the 1950s is considered, quality control became the topmost priority for manufacturers. With quality circles in the 1960s, the facet of quality management was no longer confined to the managerial rank. Volunteer groups of workers who meet and discuss topics to improve the workplace and present their ideas to management are called quality circles.

Quality Management – Beginning Of 20th Century
At the beginning of the 20th century, the addition of ‘processes’ to quality management was a significant development. During the middle of the 1920s, Walter Shewhart started a method of statistical interpretation of industrial data to inspect the process of manufacturing. As a result of this work, the foundation for the modern-day tool of control charts was created.

TQM (Total Quality Management)
The 1980s and 90s witnessed the start of a new stage of quality management, which is now known as TQM (total quality management). This was the western quality movement after observing Japan’s success with quality control. Total quality management became a broader term that included several aspects like employee participation, customer-centric approach and continuous improvement.

After TQM
With the arrival of the 21st century, the discipline of quality management and control got well-established in the manufacturing sector. In fact, many new systems came into being.

In the year 2000, the quality standards of the ISO-9000 series were modified to give more relevance to customer satisfaction.
Similarly, the year 2015 saw the revision of ISO-9001 standard; it stressed on the importance of risk management.
Several organizations began to adopt the Six Sigma quality methodology developed by Motorola.
The ISO-9000 series got divided into several quality standards, for diverse sectors.

There is every reason to believe that quality management standards will never cease to evolve. We would invariably see more number of fresh concepts in the future.

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