The Evolution of TQM

TQM Evolution: From Inspection to Total Quality Management

The concepts and ideas of TQM were formalized based on the foundations of the work done over the last few centuries. This entry outlines the evolution of TQM, from inspection through to the present-day concepts of total quality.

Quality management started with a simple inspection-based system, where a product was compared with a product standard by a team of inspectors. The first revolutionary change in the form of a system of quality control accompanied World War II. At that time, quality was achieved through control systems, which included product testing and documentation.

In the quality assurance stage, there was a shift in focus from product quality to systems quality. Quality manuals, quality planning and advanced document control were typical of this stage. Quality assurance was, however, a preventive measure.

The fourth stage of development brought about total quality management. A clear and unambiguous vision, few interdepartmental barriers, staff training, excellent customer relations, emphasis on continuous improvement and quality of the company as a whole were seen as being typical of a TQM environment.

The Four Stages of TQM

The following four stages can be identified in the evolution of TQM and are shown in Table X-1:

  1. Inspection-based
  2. System of quality control
  3. Quality assurance
  4. Total quality management
Table X-1 | Evolution of Total Quality Management
Quality Management StagesAreas of FocusScope
  • Error detection
  • Rectification
  • Sorting, grading, reblending
  • Decision about salvage and acceptance
Quality controlMaintaining status quo
  • Quality standards
  • Use of statistical methods
  • Process performance
  • Product testing
Quality assurancePrevention
  • Quality system (ISO 9000)
  • Quality costing
  • Quality planning and policies
  • Problem-solving
  • Quality design
Total quality managementQuality as a strategy
  • Quality strategy
  • Customers, employees and suppliers involvement
  • Involve all operations
  • Empowerment and teamwork
  1.    Inspection-Based

The quality movement traces its root back to medieval Europe, when craftsmen began organizing themselves into unions called guilds in the late thirteenth century.

Until the early nineteenth century, manufacturing in the industrialized world tended to follow this model. The factory system, with its emphasis on product inspection, began in Great Britain in the mid-1750s and grew into the Industrial Revolution in the early 1800s. In the early twentieth century, manufacturers began to include quality processes in quality practices.

During the early days of manufacturing, an operative’s work was inspected and a decision whether to accept or reject it was made. As businesses expanded, so too did this role, and full-time inspection job s were created. This brought about the following other problems:

  • Technical problems requiring specialized skills, often not possessed by production workers, occurred.
  • Some of the inspectors lacked training.
  • Inspectors were ordered to accept defective goods to increase output.
  • Skilled workers were promoted to other roles, leaving less skilled workers to perform operational jobs, such as manufacturing.

These changes led to the birth of a separate inspection department with a “chief inspector,” reporting to either the person in charge of manufacturing or the works manager.

With the creation of this new department there came newer services such as standards, training, recording of data and the accuracy of measuring equipment. It became clear that the responsibilities of the “chief inspector” included more than just product acceptance, and a need to address defect prevention emerged.

  1.    System of Quality Control

The quality control department evolved with an intention to undertake actions and measures to control quality in a desired manner. The “quality control manager” heading this department was responsible for inspection services and quality control engineering.

In the 1920s, statistical theory began to be applied effectively to quality control and in 1924, Shewart made the first sketch of a modern control chart. His work was later developed by Deming. The early works of Shewart, Deming, Dodge and Romig constitutes much of what comprises the theory of statistical process control (SPC), today. However, there was little use of these techniques in manufacturing companies until the late 1940s.

At that time, Japan’s industrial system had been virtually destroyed and it had gained a reputation as a producer of cheap, imitation products and an illiterate workforce. The Japanese recognized these problems and set about solving them with the help of some notable quality gurus — Juran, Deming and Feigenbaum.

In the early 1950s, quality management practices developed rapidly in Japanese plants and become a major theme in Japanese management philosophy. By 1960s, quality control and management had become a national preoccupation. Quality control, however, is not an independent act; rather, it works in accordance with the guidelines set by quality assurance. The whole idea is to see whether planned quality is actually being achieved. Thus, quality assurance is more comprehensive and quality control is a part of it.

By the late 1960s and early 1970s, Japan’s imports into the US and Europe increased significantly due to its cheaper through better quality products compared to its Western counterparts.

In a Department of Trade and Industry publication of 1982, it was stated that Britain’s world trade share was declining and this was having a dramatic effect on the standard of living in the country. There was intense global competition and any country’s economic performance and reputation for quality was made up of the reputation and performances of its individual companies and products/services.

The British Standard (BS) 5750 for quality systems had been published in 1979. In 1983, the National Quality Campaign was launched using the BS 5750 as its main theme. The aim was to bring to the attention of industry the importance of quality for competitiveness and survival in the world market.

  1.    Quality Assurance

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9000 has become the internationally recognized standard for quality management systems. It comprises a number of standards that specify the requirements for the documentation, implementation and maintenance of a quality system.

These standards were published for the first time in 1987. The aim was to effectively document the requirements of the quality management system, which had to be implemented to attain customer satisfaction. These standards were revised for the first time in 1994. Based on actual experiences of several thousand companies, these standards were revised again leading to an improved version being published in 2000. These standards were developed to assure quality.

  1.    Total Quality Management (TQM)

The birth of total quality in the United States came as a direct response to the quality revolution in Japan following World War II. The Japanese welcomed the inputs of Americans, Joseph M. Juran and W. Edwards Deming, and rather than concentrate on inspection, focused on improving all organizational processes through the people who used them.

In 1969, the first international conference on quality control sponsored by Japan, America and Europe was held in Tokyo. Feigbenbaum presented the paper, which used the term “total quality” for the first time, and referred as wider issues such as planning, organization and management responsibility.

Ishikawa presented a paper explaining how “total quality control” in Japan was different in the sense that it implied “company-wide quality control”, and he described how all the employees, from the top management to the workers were required to study and participate in quality control for the process to be effective. By the 1970s, the US industrial sectors of automobiles and electronics had been broadsided by Japan’s high-quality competition. The US response, emphasizing not only statistics but approaches that embraced the entire organization, became known as total quality management (TQM). TQM is now part of a much wider concept that addresses overall organizational performance and recognizes the importance of processes.

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