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Implementation of Seven Quality Control Tools by Using

Kaizen Approach in SME


The purpose of this study is focus on the quality improvement by implementation of

seven quality control (QC) tools in Small Medium Enterprise (SMEs) company. This

paper also intended as a guideline to industry in general and to SMEs in particular. By

the understanding the basic of Kaizen approach, it aims is to eliminate or reduce waste

from production processes. The 7 quality control (QC) tools are one of the common

methods and techniques of the kaizen. Most of the SMEs, are confused and unable to

decide where to start, what and when to implement certain tools and techniques in their

total quality journey. These tools can be beneficial for any SMEs in order to assist them

to detect the problem that occurred in the process or products and analysed using 7 basic

quality tools. Additionally, these quality tools does not cost much capital, simplest and

easiest tools, and no special skills needed.


In recent years there has been an increase in global competition among various sectors

as a result of fast, deep and frequent changes all over the world and, therefore a fast

technological innovation and increase of offered products (particularly in terms of

variety and possibility of customization). At the present time of a highly competitive

market, to improve productivity with best quality and to improve market share at least

cost, it is necessary to develop, improve and sustain systematic and healthy

organizational place (Singh, Singh, Chokshi, Chavan, & Dabhi, 2015).

The quality of processes, products and services is an important factor in business

strategies, and therefore has been changed to suit the reality that businesses face.

Quality is very important in business today especially with product recalls and

investigations as to what went wrong. Also quality has become a crucial competitive

strategic tools and many organizations have realized that it is the key to developing

products and services that lead the organizations continuous success (Mustapha, Muda,

& Abu Hasan, 2011). One of the methods to solve quality issues is Kaizen. Kaizen is a

common problem-solving tool and may be applied to any improvement process

especially quality.

Kaizen means continuous process of improvement which engages top management of

a company, management staff and all employees. It requires relevant changes in

peoples behaviour and authority based on experience, authority of leader. Kaizen is

based on assumption that all employees possess skills which can be used in a better

way. Kaizen is Japanese philosophy which means continuous improvement. Kai mean

Change & Zen mean Good the whole purpose of which is betterment of work &

improving the organization efficiency (Shubhangi & Gurway, 2016).

The dynamic kaizen strategy is an activity of continually revolving cycles of quality

circles Plan, Do, Check and Act (PDCA) which focus on customer-driven processes to

improve productivity and the quality of products and services by build-up marginal

improvements over time (Desta, Asgedom, Gebresas, & Asheber, 2014). The kaizen

strategy involving all levels of management including managers, engineers, technician

and production supervisors where they are assigned as team leaders for continuous

effort and obligation.

SME refers to small and medium enterprises. In the manufacturing sector, SMEs act as

specialist suppliers of components, parts and sub-assemblies to larger companies,

because these items can be produced at a cheaper price compared to the price large

companies must pay for in-house production of the same components (Singh, Garg, &

Deshmukh, 2010) . SMEs are found in every sector of the economy and play a vital

role. They are crucial for sustained, long-term growth, dynamism and employment.

SMEs are considered as the backbone of economic growth in all countries and they

contribute in providing job opportunities, act as supplier of goods and services to large

organizations. Although SMEs are playing an increasingly more important role, only a

few has achieved high growth.

There are many problems that manufacturing companies face today, such as unreliable

production processes, poor product quality, financial losses and delays in production

delivery. Companies do not often understand the root causes of these problems.

Problems in manufacturing can stem from various causes in a range of business areas.

In order to survive in the competitive market, companies should always be able to

satisfy their customers by continuously improving (Jevgeni, Eduard, & Roman, 2015).

According to Xu (2013), found that SMEs face several challenges are low profit

margins and relatively backward management. The author also stated that if SMEs do

not make change happen, then the problems will not get resolved and this will affect

their business performance.

The purpose of this paper is to present the quality improvement by using 7 quality

control (QC) tools will lead to solve the quality problems efficiently and effectively.

Furthermore it was assumed that the continued successes of SMEs might further be

improved if their knowledge sharing practices are placed on a sound footing. Quality

tools are considered to be the simplest and easiest tools that one can use to improve the

quality of their industrial process and no special skills or huge capital is required to use

these tools.


2.1 Quality Control Tools

They are also called the 7 "basic" or "old" tools. After that other new tools have been

developed for various purposes but the basis for every work is related to the 7 QC tools.

These tools are also fundamental to Kaizen approach to quality improvement. For

solving quality problems these 7 quality control tools which are basic used are flow

chart, check sheets, Pareto diagram, histogram, cause & effect diagram, scatter diagram,

and control charts (Ishikawa, 1985; Sokovi, Jovanovi, & Vujovi, 2009). The 7quality

tools were first emphasized by Ishikawa (in the 1960s), who is the one of the quality

management experts. All this tools are important tools used widely at manufacturing

field to monitor the overall operation and continuous process improvement. This tools

mainly used to find out root causes and eliminates them, thus the process can be

improved (Magar & Shinde, 2014). Even though there are other quality tools that can

be used such as quality function development (QFD) and design of experiments (DOE)

but 7 quality control tools still became the first choice in quality control tools (Shahin,

Arabzad, & Ghorbani, 2010). The 7 basic quality tools and techniques is one of the

quality tools and most of the company using these tools to make an improvement in

term of quality in their company.

Tools of quality can be implemented through many ways in the process industry but

PDCA cycle and DMAIC methodology are the most famous and widely used technique

through quality tools can be implemented in industrial process. Continuous

improvement process is based on application of Demings quality cycle or PDCA cycle,

shown on Fig. 1. The PDCA-cycle is integral part of process management and is

designed to be used as dynamic model. Main purpose of PDCA-cycle application is in

process improvement. When the process improvement starts with careful planning it

results in corrective and preventive actions, supported by appropriate quality assurance

tools, which leads to true process improvement (Pavletic, Sokovi, & Paliska, 2008).

DMAIC methodology is also same as PDCA cycle but the steps of DMAIC are a bit

more explanatory than the PDCA cycle. DMAIC is the abbreviation of Define, Measure,

Analyse, Improve and Control. DMAIC methodology is used for process improvement

and the use of 7 quality tools in each of the DMAIC steps are shown in table 1

(Muhammad, 2015).

Figure 1: PDCA cycle (Pavletic et al., 2008).

Table 1: Seven quality tools in DMAIC methodology.

No. Tool Application

1 Flow chart Define, Control

2 Check sheet Measure, Analyse

3 Histogram Measure, Analyse

4 Cause & effect diagram Analyse

5 Pareto diagram Analyse

6 Scatter diagram Analyse, Improve

7 Control charts Control

According to Mach and Guhqueta (2001), the 7 quality tools and six sigma have an

important relationship. The quality tools are important elements that belong to the

Statistical Process Control (SPC) which is an essential part for the implementation of

the six sigma strategy. Even six sigma is a new strategy but it also based in old statistical

and management tools. As the 7 quality tools can be applied in several steps of the flow

chart of the six sigma strategy. Sokovi et al. (2009), also stated that each of phases in

six sigma methodology can be realized with different quality tools and techniques,

while some tools can be used in more than one processes (phases). The combination of

tools and techniques it is possible to highlight complex data in a simple, visually

powerful way; evaluate areas that cause the most problems; give direction for areas to

be prioritized; show relationships between variables; establish causes for failure; show

distribution of data; and determine whether the process is acting in a state of statistical

control; and highlight the effect of special causes of variation where present (Shahin et

al., 2010).

2.1.1 Flow Chart

Flow chart is one the basic tool. It is used to study the whole process where flow charts

are pictorial representation of process by breaking the process down into its constitute

steps. Flowcharts are helpful in identifying where errors are likely to found in the

system and control the process after defect removal (Muhammad, 2015). In quality

improvement process flowcharts are particularly useful for displaying how a process

currently functions or could ideally function.

2.1.2 Check Sheet

A check sheet is a structured, prepared form for collecting in real-time and analysing

data. Tool used to collect data and record that which process occurs how many times.

The data collected through check sheet can be used in other tools like Pareto diagram

and Histogram. Check sheets help analysts to find the facts or patterns that may aid

subsequent analysis. Those collected data from the check sheets help to organize data

by category as helps gaining a preliminary understanding of relevance and dispersion

of the data so that further analysis can be planned and the improvement actions can be


2.1.3 Pareto Chart

A Pareto chart, is the technique develop by Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto

has been started to be commonly used in management area. According to Pareto rule,

generally 80% of the faults in a system stems from 20% of the reasons constituting the

faults (Grener & Toker, 2013). It is a type of chart that contains both bars and a line

graph, where individual values are represented in descending order by bars, and the

cumulative total is represented by the line. These are extremely useful to find the factors

which have greatest effect on system and allow the users to focus attention on these

factors and screen out the less significant factors.

2.1.4 Histogram

Histogram is a special bar chart for measurement data. It is used to chart the frequency

of occurrences. It is constructed from the data collected in a frequency table which

shows the data distributed across several class intervals and the frequency of occurrence

under each class.

2.1.5 Cause and Effect Diagram

This tool was devised by Dr. Kouro Ishikawa and as mentioned earlier is also known

as Ishikawa Diagram or a fishbone diagram because of its graphical structure. It shows

and identifies systematic relationships between an effect and its possible causes.

Besides, it can be used to structure a brainstorming session. In this technique all the

possible causes of a problem are taken into account and try to find out the reason of

every cause which makes the problem happen. The root cause in cause and effect

diagram are frequently arranged into four majors categories. These categories can be

classified into manpower, methods, materials and machinery (Bhagwat, Desale, Khatib,

Ganu, & Avaghade, 2014).

2.1.6 Scatter Diagram

It is used to determine if there is a relationship or correlation between two variables. It

is used to display what happens to one variable when another variable changes in order

to test a theory that the two variables are related. The data displayed on the scatter

diagram clearly show if there is a positive, negative or no relationship between the two

variables. It consists of plotting a series of points representing several observations on

a graph in which one variable is on X-axis and the other variable in on Y-axis

(Montgomery, 2009).

2.1.7 Control Chart

Control charts are also known as statistical process control charts (SPC). A control chart

is a line graph used to assess and validate the stability of a process. These are most

important and powerful quality tool to study variation of process with time. Control

charts are used to check stability of process. Control charts have two control limits.

These limits define boundaries for minimum (lower control limit) and maximum (upper

control limit) values. The points are connected by straight lines. The spread and position

of the points on the graph relative to the centre line and the control limits indicate the

state of control of the process. When all the points are within the control limits, and

these points do not exhibit any abnormal pattern, then the underlying process is said to

be under statistical control. In such cases no action may be necessary and the process

is allowed to continue. If the points fall outside the control limits or display any

abnormal pattern, then the process is deemed to be out of control and under the

influence of special causes. In such cases the process would be stopped and investigated

for causes.

2.2 Application of Quality Tools

Many researches have been done using 7 quality control tools. Mandavgade and Jaju

(2009), study the used of 7 quality control tools to optimization the cost and proven

these tools able to overcome problem and get to save amount cost of product and

improved company reputation. Besides that, Rohani and Chan (2001), presents a case

study in plastic injection moulding company deployed check sheets, Pareto chart, cause

and effect diagram and control chart to improve the monthly defect quality from 13.49%

to 7.4%.

A study conducted by Fouad and Mukattash (2010), in steel industry helps to reduce

majority of problems related to the quality and possible remedies were proposed with

the used of 7 quality tools. Jha, Tyagi, and Gupta (2013), conducted a case study to

reduce the scrap in automotive assembly lines using quality control tools. It results in

huge saving in cost to the company with reduction of reject rate.

In the study conducted by Bhagwat et al. (2014), researcher implemented quality tools

in TORNOS Sigma 20II to detect the major possible causes contribution to the high

rate rejection. Researchers use check sheets for the first phase to collect the data, later

transfer data to the Pareto analysis to determine the critical dimension. Lastly, Ishikawa

diagram is to detect every possible cause based on 6 possible major causes, there are

man, material, tool, method, measurement, and working environment.

The quality tools as a continuous improvement tool was use in a process. The researcher

used Pareto diagram to clarify the reason for the selection the problem, then followed

by cause and effect diagram tool to ascertain the root cause for major problem (Yunus,

Alsoufi, & Irfan, 2016).

Quality control tools also used in bicycle rims production industry by researcher

Dhingra (2016). The Quality tools such as Pareto chart, Fishbone diagram have been

applied to improve the quality of the products. The results showed that the rejection of

the rims has been reduced from 9.45% to 7.75% for overall production of the


Singh, Singh, Pal, and Sidhu (2017) used two types of quality control tools in

manufacturing industry to improve the quality products and enable to survive in

competitive market there are Pareto analysis and fishbone diagram (cause and effect

diagram). It shown a positive outcome where the root cause for the defects product able

to be identify and capable for the manufacturing company to reduce the reject products

with the optimum solution assist from quality control tools.


This study starts with identifying suitable company to do this project. The main criteria

used to select a company are SME. The reason behind is because SME companies did

not have enough capital to hire expertise to help them to improve their production line

productivity, quality of the product produced and at the same time reduce the number

of defect products. The adopted methodology contain initial research on related field,

problem identification, data gathering collected by interviews, analysis of study of the

previous records and observations, generation of alternative solutions & final selection

of best possible solutions,. Those relevant information have been taken into account

and analysed by inspecting the pitfalls of the existing system of the concerned SME.


The use of quality tools is a vital component of any successful improvement process

and quality of the products. Principle of Kaizen approach using the 7 basic quality tools

which enable SMEs to move from static to dynamic improvement status. These tools

can only be beneficial for any SMEs after the proper guidance and training of their

employees so that they understand these tools effectively. Based on the evident from

the previous studies by numerous researcher that continuous improvement in quality or

process can be realized with the used of quality tools and techniques. As it is shown in

selected examples, quality tools has important place in data collecting, analysing,

visualizing and making sound base for data founded decision making. The literature of

this investigation also bring further knowledge on the application of quality tools in

other companies either than SMEs. Moreover, the proposed framework not only is

helpful in effective utilization of a wider range of approaches, but also can provide more

options to managers and analysers in using more accurate tools/techniques, depending

on the situations of application.


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