History of Quality Management

History of Quality Management

Some people believe that quality can be traced back to when the Egyptians were building the pyramids built in the years 2630–2610 BC. It is believed that during their construction, the weak pyramids would be destroyed leaving only the strong ones which are in existence to date. 

In Christianity religion, a story is told in the book of John 2 verse 8, where after Jesus turned water into wine, He requested it to be taken to the master of the banquet for testing before it was given to the rest of the people!

In Europe, as early as the 13th Century, craftsmen began organizing themselves into union guilds. Up to the 19th century, manufacturing industries adopted the craftsmanship model. 

Great Britain in the mid-1750s adopted a factory system which included inspection of goods after they were produced, this later turned into an industrial revolution in the 1800s. It was not until the early 20th century that manufacturers began to consider and include quality processes in their lines of production. 

During World War II (1939 to 1945) the United States incorporated the issue of quality inspection in their tools of war. They had to check that bullets that are manufactured in different states could work consistently with riffles made in other states. Initially, it was reported that they would inspect all the pieces, but with time they adopted the sampling technique. 

By the 1970s Japan’s high-quality competition had already broadsided some of U.S industrial sectors i.e automobiles and electronics

The development of Quality management can be clustered in 4 stages:

  1. Quality Inspection
  2. Quality Control 
  3. Quality Assurance 
  4. Total Quality Management 

Quality Inspection (1920s)

– When customers found out faulty products, they would return them to the manufacturers and they would be replaced with new ones. This was a bit costly for manufacturers. This prompted the introduction of inspectors to check that only the best products left the factory. 

– This was based on a principle called Quality by sorting which led to the following challenges:

  • Inspectors accepting defective goods to increase output
  • Loss in revenue for the manufacturer. 
  • Technical problems were encountered, requiring specialized skills
  • Lack of trained inspectors

Quality Control (1950s)

  • This stage presented a fundamental shift from the inspection stage in that it sought to find the cause of problems and fixed them before production. 
  • Quality control can be termed as a one feedback loop system in which ensures information is communicated way before production is done.
  • This method ensured improvement in goods produced and reduction in defect goods translating to increased revenues. 

Quality Assurance (1970s)

  • Refers to planned and systematic activities that are implemented in the organization’s processes to give confidence that a service or product will fulfill the set requirements for quality.
  • The confidence is both internal (to the management) and external to customers, government, regulators, stakeholders, etc

The principles of Quality Assurance are: 

“Fit for purpose”- suitable for the intended purpose for both products and services

“Right first time”- mistakes should be eliminated. 

Total Quality Management (1980s)

  • Total Quality Management (TQM) began in the period between 1980s and the 1990s
  • It can be defined as a management approach to long-term success through customer satisfaction.
  • Its strategy is aimed at embedding awareness of quality in all organizational employees and processes
  •  (TQM) is not a one-off process. It is an ongoing process of detecting and eliminating or reducing errors.
  • The focus is to improve the quality of an organization’s outputs, through Kaizen – Japanese for – continual improvement of internal practices. 
  • TQM can be referred to as the highest level of quality to be achieved so far.

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