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European Management ]ournal Volume 7 No 4

0 European Management journal 1989
ISSN (1263-2373 $3.00

Total Quality Control: Lessons European Executives
can Learn from Japanese Companies
Barrie Dale
Lecturer in Operations Management

Mike Asher


Daisley Associates,


This paper reports the finding of a Mission to Japan by 18 executives to study the total quality control activities
of 8 companies from diverse industries. A number of the companies can be classified as world class. In the
companies studied the dedication, vision and planning for total quality control, development of policy and setting
of improvement objectives at each level in the organisation structure, and attention to detail in the production
preparation stage is without equal in the majority of Western organisations.
It is also pointed out that the
housekeeping of Japanese companies is first class and all the companies studied said their greatest assets are

In April 1989 a fact finding mission was made to Japan
by a group of 18 European executives to see at firsthand the Total Quality Control (TQC) methods and
practices of a wide range of Japanese companies from
diverse industries.
The data was collected using a
variety of means, including an introductory lecture by
Professor Yamashina of Kyoto University, presentations by senior Japanese company management, video
factory tours, personal observations,
discussions with Japanese company personnel and
study group discussions.
The paper begins by describing some of the key
elements of TQC from each of the eight organisations
studied. This is followed by a discussion of the major
issues arising out of the study mission.

distribution. It is Japan’s second largest electric power
station and utilises nuclear, steam and coal fueled
stations. It was established in 1951 and employs over
24,000 people. Kansai initiated the TQC movement in
the utility industry and has won the Deming prize. The
company mission is to serve:


customers with abundant quality electricity at
cost effective prices
customers with honesty and sincerity
local communities
and citizens
for their
development and prosperity

Like many other organisations visited on the mission,
are a central feature of
Kansai Power Station’s operating philosophy. They are
working for environmental
protection in three areas
- preservation,
harmony, and improvement.
TQC Highlights

The Kansai Electric

Power Co Inc

The company is a privately-owned
utility involved in

The company started preparing for TQC in
mid-1981 the President delivered a written
outlining the reasons why the company had
to introduce TQC and the role of each person
The scientific analysis of facts and establishing

1980. In
in TQC.
the root

improving equipment reliability. maintaining and improving heat efficiency. develop and promote their TQC The company activities using the Deming Cycle of Plan. cost control. Kakogawa Works Background The Kakogawa Works. quality control-related thinking and methods were not well applied in practical situations. number of job-related accidents. . A committee. Establish the basis of TQC-related education and publicity by encouraging Quality Control circle (QC circles) activities and employee suggestion plans. Some audits are carried out by the President. To audit the state of quality improvement in each department and office. The guidelines for this stage of TQC were: . (Deming (1)). environmental control and purchase control. There are currently 2306 activity circles involving 18. TQC-related education has been added to the list of training modules.223 participants. Obtain reliable quality information and knowledge on the new needs of society and perform the utility business on a basis of marketorientated thinking. Kobe Steel Ltd. For example. They are now into the second cycle (Promotion) or D. The importance of standardisation of work procedures and solution of chronic routine work problems is stressed. The plant has been built to pursue high productivity. A number of problems have been experienced: in the initial stages the enlightenment and diffusion activities were confined to management. Clean fuel sources are used and anti-pollution devices are employed to monitor pollution. constructed in 1968. include: Promote activities which are market-orientated and attach importance to quality assurance. has the capacity to produce 6 million tons of steel per year. It is responsible for the establishment of basic plans concerning the promotion of TQC and keeping track of progress. A policy. These cycles. Do. Since the introduction of TQC. . from 1981 up to the end of 1985. from practical activities and experiences. interdepartmental cooperation and standardisation were not well advanced. The first cycle Action (PDCA) (introduction) or P in the long-range PDCA cycle has been completed. Ensure that quality control is embedded in the process of management and that the root cause(s) of problems are eliminated to improve the quality of utility operations and its management. include: . . Solve problems by a priority-orientated approach and improve business operations in an effective and efficient manner. The results of TQC activities during the first cycle has been measured by factors such as: smoothing high frequency start-up and shut-down periods. chaired by the President. waste gases and steam are recirculated via an energy centre and 97% of the water used in their manufacturing processes are re-cycled. safety control. a great deal of emphasis is placed on minimising energy waste and on environmental protection. Prior to the decision to launch TQC the company had developed a longrange management vision of future opportunities into the next century. QC circles were not well fostered. each of a four year duration. The senior management were convinced that the introduction of TQC was the only path to fulfil this vision. plant availability. The company regard QC circles as an important TQC activity. The third and fourth cycles are termed development (C) and fostering and advancement (A). to solve problems in a scientific and objective manner. was set-up to promote TQC. Control and develop the management policies to secure their effective realization. The organisation has a wide range of education and training programmes to develop their employees. service interruptions. . The major aspects of TQC activities in the introduction phase. Establish and develop management policies to improve the control of daily activities. activating employees in terms of number of suggestions and completed QC circle themes. Including sub-contractors. 9.000 people are employed. however. The long-term planning for quality improvement covers a span of 10 years and the objectives. Check. Learn. TQC High&h ts The basic policy for quality control is to manufacture and market products to meet Quality (Q). Cost (C) requirements. Facilitate cooperation between departments by setting-up systems of quality assurance. The management policies are reviewed by the PDCA cycle.494 BARRIE DALE and MIKE ASHER cause of a problem was stressed. to promote and establish TQC activities was formulated. Standardisation is promoted to realise the policy and reflect product quality. The policies are implemented with the participation of all employees on a departmental basis. a quality audit department was established some three years after launch of TQC. are under the leadership of senior management. reduction of cost. Delivery (D). the company said it is the most important.

They were asked by Government to move to this location to promote employment in the community. In 1956 and 1964. on-line and process computers. The quality control department. improve product and process designs. the data is displayed on X and R charts. The comment was made that customer requirements are a moving target and increasing as a faster rate than the available technology. quality control and QC circles were introduced. a detailed record system of manufacturing conditions and traceability. between production runs. The company theme is cleanliness and quality. For products identified as being of a lower quality than those of competitors in the market place. water and electricity is subsidised. targets have been set and are being worked to. who reports to the manager of the technical department. through a design review. Operators. For those products not prioritised for quality improvement. Based on these objectives. They were awarded the Deming Prize in 1961. other types of material testing is conducted via on-line computers. advice and co-ordination on provides instruction. flatness and thickness are automatically measured through the rolling. meet and then surpass these quality levels in the shortest possible time. clean and paint the plant (including the floor) in bright colours to reduce the amount of dust and scale in the atmosphere and also carr\r out preventive maintenance. initial samples approval and routine mass production. finishing and conditioning stages. Process computers carry out chemical analysis and the product is checked. and posting warning notices on product operating manuals are employed. for flaws. The company have an integrated flexible manufacturing control system employing off-line. and prevent problems reoccurring. aim to reduce manufacturing cost while maintaining the present levels of quality. at the product planning stage of a new product. Nippondenso Co Ltd. It started operations in 1987 and 2531 people are employed. Enhance the effectiveness of the quality assurance system. It is the responsibility of the quality system department to ensure that the products meet the customers quality standards. managements’ short-term objectives are consistent with their longer-term goals. using ultrasonics. Manufacturing is carried out in a clean air environment. quality audit committee and other relevant departments are involved to: pursue speedy corrective action. gas. and to facilitate this measure such as designating qualified worker status. Kobe have identified specific control items. standardisation and implementation of quality control methods. Safety analysis is carried out using failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) and fault tree analysis (ETA). The responsibilities include: l l l l l of the quality control department. process operations. Kota Plant Background Nippondenso manufacturer are the third largest automotive-related in Japan specialising in components for CONTROL: LESSONS FROM JAPAN 495 the motor industry. Quality assurance system improvement Quality audits Evaluation of quality measures Promotion of QC circle activities and quality control education Product testing The department is involved. The controls (including manufacturing procedures. It was said that the electrical appliance industry was particularly severe in relation to surface imperfections. a tighter inspection system. The works manager has overall responsibility for quality assurance. A quality audit of similar . Produce top qualities of steel for strategic products and promote sales through attainment of this goal. Products designated safety critical and emission control are singled out for special consideration and subject to more stringent management controls. quality problems and their countermeasures. quality control with the participation of all employees. This was Kobe’s main non-conformance and considerable effort was being employed to reduce this. respectively. Quality-related data is gathered every day and analysed using simple statistical techniques. reliability test and design review through to pre-production. to apply intensive effort in assuring product quality. The plant produces integrated chips. This involvement is continued in the product design stage by activities such as quality audit. and drawings) are designated “S” or “E” respectively. TQC Highlights The quality assurance policy is to give first priority to product quality. in particular when new products are launched. The need for the company to fulfil its social obligations and reduce environmental pollution of water and air was emphasised. and promote. on a continuous basis. The quality system manager. Nippondenso have a system for registering serious quality troubles. Width. In line with Deming’s (1) first point.TOTAL QUALITY Increase the proportion of high quality steel grades and steel with higher added values.

The activities of planning. A point worth noting is the participation of members in events outside the company for their personal and mutual education and to broaden their outlook. QC circle study and lecture meetings. and has two assembly shops each comprising 3 production The following are interesting quality assurance system: Toyota Motor Corporation. The non-conforming parts are subject to a detailed laboratory analysis. Considerable example: use is made of statistical Product development and design Manufacturing process development Manufacturing control Inspection methods.496 BARRIE DALE and MIKE ASHER processes is also carried out to ensure that the corrective action decided upon is employed on a company-wide basis. The TQC activities are divided into i) business management activities . In 1961. The assembly plant was established in 1966. collected and fixed.policy management and daily administration. Any incoming inspection only examines the appearance of products. i) quality control-inspection and production. Single and dual sourcing is employed. improving. Toyota also promote TQC by providing advice and assistance to Toyota group-related companies and to suppliers and dealers. and each employee endeavours to continuousIy improve the work for which they are responsible.700 circles) iii) the suggestion system (30 suggestions per employee are received each year and it is claimed that 97% are adopted and managers respond within one day to all suggestions made) and other small group activities.000 parts from some 250 suppliers (home and overseas). Quality control personnel watch for adverse trends and operators are encouraged to consult the data on a regular basis. understands the fundamental thinking underpinning quality control activities. meetings and plant tours. The company have extensive QC circle activities. FMEA and process capabiIity studies control charts and process capability studies sampling inspection and process capability studies The seven quality control tools (Ishikawa (2)). and works to strengthen and improve the company structure so that it is flexible enough to respond to any changes. Their mottos are “Good thinking. product standards and work to them. dependent on location. for quality function deployment (QFD). Weibull analysis and FMEA QFD. ii) quality assurance vitalised activities at the job site . puts that understanding into practice. design. and iii) quality control encompassing departments and employees at all levels of responsibility. the Japan Quality Control Award (achieved in 1970) and to develop a programme to strengthen and raise the level of corporate management. An example of the famous Toyota Production System (Ohno (3)) was the deIivery of engines every hour from Toyota’s two engine manufacturing plants. The basic thi~ing behind quality control is to follow the PDCA cycle. the motivation for developing TQC was to attain the Deming Prize (achieved in 1963). Dual and single sourcing is employed. The presentation is displayed outside the clean air manufacturing area.QC circle activies (Toyota have 6. this includes attendance at conferences. A report of the corrective activities carried out is made to the Board of Directors.900 passenger cars are produced each day in 5 different varieties. design of experiments (DOE). circle information exchange. ii) quality control for planning. A total of 16000 different parts are purchased from 200 suppliers. are used extensively at each stage of production. Good products” and “Cars to love. The nonconforming units are automatically rejected. background fnfu~ati~ The history of TQC at Toyota foflowed three phases. Takaoka Plant features of Toyota’s . DOE. The journey time to the assembly plant is 5 to 20 minutes. Stringent tests are carried out at various stages of manufacture. and production planning and control. the world over”. purchasing. The company aim to continue to offer to their customers throughout the world better and improved quality. miltivariate analysis. Data is collected automatically from the manufacturing processes and analysed. For example. The cars comprise 30. The units are automatically connected and disconnected. multivariate analysis. maintaining and promoting are fundamental to this basic thinking. make judgements and actions based on hard facts. The aims of TQC are each employee should: ensure that the customer always comes first. lines. 2. each unit of final product is subject to a burn-in test at +SO”C and -30°C and a total of 200 parameters are checked.

variability and unreasonableness. product design. The most difficult factor said to inhibit improvement is the size of the organisation. inspection. orderliness and cleanliness and to remove the 3M’s waste. and to ensure a wellrounded life for our workers and all people concerned with our enterprise by offering products and service in which our customers not only have full confidence but also to which they look forward expectantly to quality at all stages.TOTAL QUALIlY l l l CONTROL: LESSONS FliOM JAPAN 497 To help assure the necessary quality there is feedback and/or feed forward of quality information in production planning. In the production preparation stage. They believe there is always the opportunity to produce crisper and easier to read copies. Among typical reasons are an operator who cannot keep up with the pace of the production line or the discovery of nonconforming parts. The company are continually searching for new ways of increasing copy quality. new imaging processing technologies are evaluated continuously as are other technologies and materials. When the line is stopped a light flashes in the supervisor’s office. The key quality issues are quality assurance in research and development. Consideration is given to the preventive measures used for troubles experienced in the past and efficient means of production to ensure the design quality. QC circles and management techniques. Using the PDCA cycle. evaluation of the products from mass production and sales and field service operations. including mistake-proofing (Shingeo (4)). This is the starting point of their TQC activities. engineers from the development and design department take-up residency in the Production and Inspection Departments (the Resident Engineer System). The objective is to build-in quality at each step before sending work to the next process. The drive for this comes from on the job training. The self-check concept is mainly used when changes have been made which affect tools and shapes and sizes of product. The company has three main objectives: i) quality first (the comment was made that naturally this is the most important element). The two main factors given for the success of TQC is that their President is totally committed to the concept and the contribution of their 200 or so major suppliers. evaluation of pre-production products. The goal of TQC at Minolta is to procure profits by providing high quality products and improve working conditions so that each individual employee can make the most effective use of their overall abilities. the average age of employee is 25. 0 Any person can stop the production line using the stopline. they Minolta Mizuho (No. standardisation and to ensure that the product specification is met. the car stops between two yellow markers to help the supervisor identify the car in question. All employees are encouraged to keep what they term the 3C’s . evaluation of prototype products. to strive for stable business development. assess mid-year and at the end of each year whether or not the objectives have been met. Toyota sets its corporate quality objectives through each functional division.” TQC flighlights In order to meet worldwide business needs a variety of copiers are produced. Detailed instructions are fixed to each car so that the operator knows what parts to fit and to ensure that they do not miss items which are specific to certain models items. In the development and design stage. purchasing. 1 Plant) The plant which produces copiers was opened in 1978 and employs 690 people. to feed-in know-how obtained during the design and development stage and promote the implementation of countermeasures against troubles. This is to ensure design intent to previous processes. Background Toyota emphasis that to build in quality at each production stage it is necessary for the operator to: work in accordance with the work instruction and drawing. targets are set and achievement against target is measured and displayed in a . The designs are evaluated for potential difficulties in the mass production stage. this is vital in mixed production lines. The management philosophy is “To contribute meaningfully to international society. ii) the use of flexible manufacturing systems (FMS) to meet market demands and reduce stock (less than one day of stock is carried) and iii) people and machines are in harmony. quality audit. process capability. At each stage of production. mass production.tidiness. pre-production planning. maintain and preserve the manufacturing facilities and self-check work and production quality. The average stop time per day is 20 minutes and the current daily stop time is displayed in a prominent position. engineers from the quality assurance and inspection department take up residency in the development and design department (this is termed the Quality Resident Engineer System).

For example. 350 people are employed and 100 grand pianos are produced each month. The checks are not in the form of a procedure and are based on operator experience. TQC Highlights Yamaha have a TQC slogan which they change every year with different ideas incorporated into the slogan.498 BARRIE DALE and MIKE ASHER prominent position. For example. It was claimed this keeps employees focused on quality. Taguchi design of experiments (Taguchi (5)) have been in use since 1955. Customer satisfaction with the product is assessed by Yamaha’s market share. There is intensive competition between manufacturing areas for the number and calibre of suggestions made with the number of suggestions by a section displayed in the area concerned. Finished copiers are selected at random and subject to detailed reliability tests. The operators from each area prepare a daily report on the non-conformances they have found. Itabash Plant Background The plant visited is 50 years old and 2000 people are employed. feedback of information from professional tuners and from professional pianists-teams are sent to assist pianists at concerts. instructions on what parts of the machinery are to be lubricated and at what frequency. A manager from Toppan is made President of a subsidiary and at a later date they often return to Toppan. Elements of FMS are in place and Yamaha estimate it will be two years before it will be fully developed. The product is manufactured to a Japanese Standard Association (JSA) standard. It is the responsibility of employees to collect and analyse statistical data. In each area there is a board on which operators are encouraged to log their own mistakes and those of peers. Detailed tests are carried out at each operation. Forty varieties of magazine are produced in 150 million issues per month. The average number of suggestions per person per year is 38 and it is claimed that 84% are accepted. The supplier had operators within the plant operating the packaging line. includes paying attention to the 3M’s and 3C’s. The area supervisor decides whether or not a suggestion is accepted. All employees are instructed in the use of statistical methods. The supplier of packaging was integrated into Minolta’s manufacturing system. measuring equipment is employed to determine the correct height and depth of keys and an automatic key striking machine is employed. the quality control department publishes a 3 year programme. robot and computer controlled tests are used to ensure high and consistent quality and machine performance and tests and adjustments for image quality are made on a continuous basis. The subsidiaries are allowed to split-off from the main company. product features and components to which they need to pay particular attention are illuminated and displayed. After care of the product was emphasised and it was said that the way the product is stored by the dealer is crucial to performance. Quality control is the responsibility of the operators who carry out quality checks. this is cascaded down from the corporate programme. Yamaha have their own professional pianist. The data. Each department then sets their objectives on what is to be done to meet the programme. There is automated checking on the production line for image reflection. Reliability levels are set at a very early stage in the development of a product. and a monthly quality assurance report . In the manufacturing areas. Toppan Printing Services Co Ltd. The level of achievement is compared to plan and is updated every six months. prototype setting and bookbinding activities. Toppan have 100% owned affiliated companies who carry out plating. design and process FMEA. Minolta said that mistakes are not made any more and the board is no longer in use. This is cascaded down to each person in relation to controls and targets. It is claimed that standardisation is very difficult in the industry. data is collected and displayed on a noticeboard. All process instructions are displayed at the eye level of the assembly operator. SK and QC circles (700 live circles) are also used. The bookbinding subsidiary also carries out work for other companies. warranty claims. Special instructions which remind operatives of the key operations. The instructor carries out an audit of how employees put into practice the statistical methods they have been taught. The product is also tested and retested at every stage of development. TQC Highlights Each year. Yamaha Background The plant visited engaged in the production of grand pianos.

and shorter product life cycles. Discussion The discussion of findings is structured under the broad headings of customer satisfaction and long-term planning. the internal marketplace is dominant and competition is fierce. CONTROL: The brewery employs 282 people and produces keg. There is also an audit at the end of the year by top management from the head office. and the wider scene. the brewery’s medium term plan. This means that organisations have got to be dedicated totally to satisfying customers and this effort must be long-term and continuous or they will be overtaken by the competition. Each year. The operators carry out self-evaluation of their achievement against target and this is also reviewed in personal FROM lAPAN 499 interviews with a foreman. bottled and canned beers. All levels of the organisation are involved and contribute to this activity. Their approach to TQC is based on three principles l l l Deployment of the quality policy Daily control of product quality assurance Quality control activities The plant manager’s policy for the year is decided after taking into account the objectives and targets of the company’s five year plan. The market is saturated and demands ever increasing product diversification and attractiveness. evaluation of the brewer’s activities for the previous year and the production schedule. organising and planning for quality. reduce the cost of production and to facilitate technical innovation. The quality assurance Suntory Limited. carries out an audit of the circles. role and targets are set at each level. “The customer always comes first” was a term used by many organisations to describe their market-orientated spirit. and The plant has 1. the President carries out a TQC audit of one piant. rigorous reliability and quality to conformance. In addition. each month. Suntory firmly believe that the beer they supply must be what consumers think is good. quality education and training. faster response to changing market needs. objectives. the first time it had been awarded to a food processing company. The typical target set for improvement was 10%.TOTAL QUALITY indicating to operators what characteristics parameters they are required to pay attention. They are forever looking at the market. The General Manager. The activity starts on 1 January and is targetted for completion at the end of March. The effect of TQC is measured by quality (score of sensory test by internal panel). This meeting involves around 40 people and is of one day’s duration. who in turn carry out a 3 monthly inspection of supervisors policies. Customer satisfaction and long-term planning In Japan.50 active QC circles. cost (production cost per case of bottles) and delivery (ratio of accomplished/ planned quality). The plant manager then makes a presentation of his policy to section managers who in turn develop their policy and present it to supervisors who likewise formulate their policy and present it to operators. They trade in a highly competitive market place. Organ~sations commented that their customer quality requirements are becoming increasingly rigorous and that these requirements are a moving target. procedure or mechanism by which they can properly . TQC Highlights Suntory started the process of TQC in 1981. involvement of people. Organisations believe that launching new products to the marketplace is the means by which they can sustain their competitive edge. a quarterly evaluation of the activities involved in deployment of the quality policy is carried out via a study meeting held with a university Professor. The main themes of the brewery are to shorten the time for new product development. There is a total belief that business operations can be improved by reflecting the customer needs and/or requirements and all organisations have a system. From this tree of deployment. Diagrams of the process (Kanren-Zu) quality assurance and relationships diagrams are used for daily control of jobs as an aid to consumers. It is interesting to note that QC circles were in place before TQC and it took around 12 months to educate the circle members about the need to change to TQC. This procedure is repeated at each stage using the PDCA cycle. construct and develop the quality assurance system to ensure customer satisfaction. evaluation of quality. There is total dedication to putting customers first and focusing on the “mind of the market”. The brewery were awarded the Deming Prize in 1988. Mushashino Brewery LESSONS activities involve extensive use of QFD (termed quality assurance tables). An inspection is carried out every three months by the plant manager to check that the policies are being deployed by the section managers.

are changed at least once a year. often extending some 10 years into the future. Production engineers are deployed on the shopfloor to deal with problems as and when they arise. The databanks which Japanese organisations have built-up on this are far in excess of anything witnessed in Western companies. increase the level of corporate awareness of TQC and exchange quality i~ormation. FTA. In order to reach a consensus on the promotion of TQC activities. A mid-range management plan of 3 to 5 years duration is developed from the long-range management vision and this is cascaded down to the plant manager who formulates an annual plan. At the conclusion of each phase in a new product programme it is usual to hold a quality assurance meeting to determine whether or not the programme can move to the next phase. To assist this. FMEA. approaches and systems to every comer of an organisation. Cost. the failure rate for that customer would be 100%. quality audits and reliability tests. their needs and expectations. quality assurance meetings. This latter activity helps to ensure that there is adequate space for the suppliers product in the final assembly/product and it was also mentioned that suppliers can suggest cost levels for their products. DOE. This assists in keeping the theme in the forefront of employees minds. A note of the problems found in production is kept and in the launch of future products countermeasures are put into place so that these problems do not reoccur. detailed information is developed on customer profiles. The total commitment and leadership of top management was a point always stressed as being a key point for successful TQC activities. when a new design is produced on existing facilities and in the mass production of established products. In mission statements. In the production preparation phase the production engineers endeavour to predict failures for the process and to take collective action before machine and process sequences are finalised. product inspection and promotion of quality assurance activities. In large organisations there is usually a corporate quality assurance department. The theme of Quality.000 products failed. All the necessary preparations are made in advance of actual production and considerable resources are committed to this activity. This view is encapsulated in the point made by one organisation that even if only one out of 10. They believe that their corporate strength is built-up through TQC and quality must be foremost in every aspect of corporate policy. FMEA and process capability studies are employed to assist with this. The mottos. a monthly liaison meeting is held between corporate and plant quality assurance departments. which are often suggested by employees. “Quality First” is always emphasised. Ownership of quality resides with everyone in the organisation and the special features and characteristics of Japanese organisations (Okada and Goalstone (6)) ensures that cooperation between departments is first class. QFD.500 BARRIE DALE and MIKE ASHER identify these needs and keep focused on the market. Use is made of the resident engineer’s approach in the design and production preparation phases and major suppliers also join in at the design stage (guest designers). Delivery (QCD) was mentioned on a number of occasions and organisations strive to become the best in relation to QCD. Planning. The role of top management includes: Ensure that the entire organisation is committed to TQC and establish corporate quality systems Promote TQC activities on a continuous basis Participate in activities such as: l l l l membership of the committee for quality planning quality assurance meetings for design and manufacture of quality into the product quality audit and quality improvement and corrective action meetings quality audits Motivate employees Org~nisjng and Plff~ning for Qualify ~~pr~ve~e~t The manufacturing department are responsible for maintaining quality and the quality assurance department are responsible for evaluation of product quality performance. Extensive use is made of mottos expressing some appropriate message on QCD. The foreman is heavily involved in the quality . The rotation of people between different jobs helps to diffuse new technologies. In order to identify defects early on in the design process and to assure the quality of design it is usual to use techniques such as design reviews. Considerable emphasis was placed on the mistake-proofing of operations and a number of examples were seen during the factory visits. The deployment of policy is carried out through all organisational levels with appropriate targets and improvement objectives agreed amongst all concerned. The resident engineer and guest designer concepts could be adopted by Western organisations. feedback and decision making on TQC is long-term. It is usual to carry out a process capability study every time new production facilities are used. In most Western organisations even if notes were made of problems they are filed and forgotten and there is little learning from previous mistakes. This ensures the penetration of policies on a step by step basis throughout the organisation.

mistake-proofing. standardisation. little mention was made of quality improvement teams. When touring the photosetting department of a printing company. process instructions. product life tests are carried out. job rotation and education and training. members had to tie plastic covers over their shoes. quality improvement groups. a variety of presentations. It is accepted practice in most Japanese organisations that top management carry out an annual audit of the TQC activities. The discipline of cleanliness and housekeeping is a prerequisite for effective quality assurance and this should be pursued more vigorously by Western companies. problem solving groups and the like. Little dust was found on window ledges in any of the organisations visited. The following are typical of the objectives of QC circles and suggestion schemes respectively in the organisations visited: l l l to provide opportunities for self-improvement of knowledge and skills through cooperative team efforts to create a rewarding work environment to create a workplace where total participation in quality control is a reality Suggestion l l l Schemes to improve the power abilities to promote friendly and amongst all employees to improve the company to work and individual healthy human relations and to vitalise activities structure and operations Other small group activities. the quality assurance systems were very much proactive and measured improvement not paperwork. In more than one company it was said that because of the lifetime employment situation they were always searching for ways to motivate and revitalise their staff. Surprisingly. For example. work standards. disseminating top management’s point of view on TQC to each department. in general and visual prompts are used to assist with this. job activities and systems are continuously evaluated. Evaluation of Product Qualify Products. Involvement of People The mission statement of all the organisations visited stressed that their greatest asset was manpower and all employees are encouraged to participate in quality improvement. quality assurance reports and product quality information collected by the sales and service department from the in-service performance of the product. include social activities at the work site and recreational and cultural activities. their housekeeping was immaculate. In all the organisations visited. include in-house losses and scrap rates. The usual means was through QC circles. Quality audit and improvement meetings were often chaired by top management. Any data obtained from testing was subject to detailed analysis (no data was discarded as too trivial) as were quality control indicators. suggestion schemes. .TOTAL QUALITY assurance planning process. Japanese organisations are always searching for new ways to test their products to ensure they fulfil requirements for reliability and safety. retested and improved in pursuit of perfection and efficiency. The quality indicators which are measured on a regular basis. to give hints on how the product may be improved and to establish manufacturing control points. The general theme was a working environment which was clean and comfortable and in harmony with employees. The purpose of the audit. tested. check sheets. and providing an opportunity for direct dialogue with a variety of employees. number of quality non-conformances found in deliveries to customers. This and other audits ensure that quality plans are continuously reviewed and renewed at each level in the organisational hierarchy. number of serious quality problems which are registered and the number and rate of warranty claims. In this respect. The impression was given that every level in the organisational hierarchy was involved in the quality planning process. processes. one of their responsibilities is to prepare work procedure standards for each process. Without exception all the organisations visited had thriving QC circle programmes involving a large proportion of the total workforce and suggestion schemes through which a considerable number of suggestions were obtained and most of which were implemented. The assessment by customers of their suppliers quality assurance systems did not appear to be a regular occurrence. other small group activities. which when discarded were hardly discoloured. assessing how the CONTROL: LESSONS FROM JAPAN 501 quality improvement plan is progressing. The solution of quality troubles and the putting into place of countermeasures to prevent reoccurrence is pursued aggressively. Tests are carried out at all stages in the manufacturing process. For example. Some organisations have a committee to promote standardisation and the observations of standards is checked by section managers and foremen through control of daily work activities. includes giving advice concerning TQC. In most cases. the visit around a steel mill involved the mission members wearing white gloves.

invited lecturers from outside and by Institutions such as JUSE and JSA. The Wider Scezc Because of lifetime employment it is possible for a Japanese organisation to invest heavily in a programme of training and retraining to develop their employees capabilities. Control charts tend to be used by the Japanese to prove process capability and when there is a problem with the process. In this respect. Almost without exception the instructors carry out an audit to assess the effective use of newly acquired skills by the The Japanese approach to business is not just focused on product and service quality it encompasses topics such as JIT. people they have trained. to see that these tools were well employed during all stages of production. preservation of the environment. One can speculate that the reason for this is most Japanese organisations are at least ten years ahead of Western competition in their process of TQC and the questions asked about some activity. top management leadership and commitment to preventing errors. but there is often a failure to practice the knowledge which has been assimilated. as displayed on quality noticeboards. The Japanese use statistical methods extensively. computer integrated manufacturing. the unflagging efforts of all employees in performing and improving jobs and measuring achievement against target using the PDCA cycle. energy control and environmental control. attention to detail at every stage of the process. Every person in the organisation is educated about variation and losses. engineers. education and training commences with employees following an off-line training course for one year. This is assisted by their modesty. A variety of training was given in techniques and presentation and leadership skills to deepen TQC consciousness amongst employees and to improve their problem solving ability. In Japan. The aspects of Japanese TQC activities particularly impressive. The quality training programme is typically carried out by staff from corporate and divisional quality departments. they live quality and apply basic principles in an effective manner. company mission. environmental improvement. Terms such as total pollution control. It is also worth noting that there appears to be closer links in Japan between industry and higher education establishments. structure. total productivity maintenance. The most intensive training was given to design and production engineers. Everyone in an organisation was trained to use the seven quality control tools and there was ample evidence. In the West. the deployment of policy through each level of the organisational hierarchy with improvement objectives and targets set at each level. people are trained by one company then they will move to another company who benefits from the training and development carried out. It is clear that Japanese manufacturing organisations go to considerable lengths to ensure that they are in harmony with the natural environment and social surroundings. Some questions asked by members of the Study Mission. it is interesting to report that whilst company documents gave minimum values for the Cp process capability index (which measures process spread) the Cpk index (which measures process spread and setting) was not mentioned. research presentations by engineers. and sales staff presentations. They are encouraged to reduce process variation and to target product characteristics on the centre of the normal distribution. Concluding Remarks The majority of Western companies are well aware of the philosophy. The course prepares them for work with the respective organisation in terms of company philosophy. consideration and willingness to please. systems and job skills. little mention was made of SK and few control charts were seen during the factory tours. include: which are the obsession with customer satisfaction. the resources committed to the production preparation stage in a bid to prevent nonconformances occurring in manufacture and the ability to learn from their mistakes. All new employees from junior and senior high school and university commence employment once a year at the same time and this facilitates the training and helps build relationships which are beneficial for a long time into the future. apart from those used by QC circles. environmental assessment and improvement of the environment were used frequently. techniques and systems of TQC and the training that is required to foster understanding. organisations and people do not talk about TQC. did not appear to make much sense to the Japanese hosts. procedure or system was something they take for granted as part of their normal routine operations. long-range management vision. however. even allowing for the problem of interpretation.502 BARRIE DALE and MIKE ASHER The presentations include circle effectiveness presentations. In most Japanese organisations. . presentations by circles to supervisors. sincerity. flexible factory automation.

Asian Productivity Organisation. Productivity Press. Tokyo. we use the words Total Quality Management (TQM) to describe what is required of a total quality organisation. the management commitment and leadership is taken for granted and total quality control or company-wide quality control best describes their planning. Cambridge. 4. MA. ‘Introduction to Quality Engineering’. 6. Tokyo. techniques. evaluation and problem solving activities. Productivity Press. Ohno T. immaculate housekeeping. Tokyo. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It must be pointed out that the companies visited were amongst the best of class and as Professor Yamashina pointed out. Center for Advanced Engineering Study. Toyotu Producfion System Beyond Large Scale Production. Asian Productivity Organisation. a unified and motivated workforce working together in a common direction to assure quality and to achieve world class status. The much talked about Japanese culture and business environment and practices have obviously been of influence in helping the companies visited to achieve world class status but the effect of the aggressive market situation as exists in Japan has also been a key motivating factor and should not be underestimated. Acknowledgements In preparing this paper the authors have drawn on the notes taken during the company visits and from documentation provided by host companies and from the introductory lecture given by Professor Yamashina of Kyoto University.TOTAL QUALITY the obsession with measuring and testing and analysis of data in pursuit of never-ending improvement. In the West. strategy. S. It should be virtually impossible for any person visiting Japan and on their return focus on the use of one or two quality techniques. In Japan. 5. . G. How ever. Zero Qualify Control: Source lnspecfion and the Poka-Yoke System. Japan has also some second rate companies. How Japanese Companies Work. MA. The word management is employed to indicate that TQM has to be led by top management. It enables European executives to obtain a clear picture of the total dedication to quality which the Japanese undoubtedly have. It is clear from their long term planning horizons and the time taken to deploy the quality policy that they are under much less short-term cost pressure than most Western organisations. A visit to Japan is a necessity for any organisation serious about quality improvement. Cambridge. measurement. 3. Barrie Dale wishes to thank John Moulton of Status Meetings and Kay Gibbs of IFS for inviting him to lead the Study Mission. Observing and assimilating knowledge from a Study Mission of the kind described in this paper would stop organisations falling into the trap of CONTROL: LESSONS FROM JAPAN 503 becoming preoccupied with one or two techniques and treating them in isolation. 1986. 3034-8533-5825. Productivity and Competitive Position’. Deming 2. To compete effectively with countries from the Pacific Basin these are typical of the aspects which Western organisations need to get embedded into company culture. They would also obtain a clear indication of the quality objectives. Cambridge. 1988. Taguchi. 1982. Details of future TQM Study Missions can be obtained from John Moulton (tel: 0730 66544). ‘Quality. W E. testing. Shingeo. MA. procedures and systems which are deployed by Japanese companies and their long-range management vision. ‘Guide to Quality Control’. it should be pointed out that they did appear to adhere to Deming’s (1) point that short-term objectives are consistent with long-term objectives. References 1. Okada H and Goalstone C. but unfortunately it does happen. a long-term commitment to quality education and training. 1984. 1976. 1986. Ishikawa K. They acknowledge these sources of information. The only quality technique emphasised during the Mission was that of QC circles.