Total Quality Management in the Global Supply Chain

Total Quality Management in the Global Supply Chain

Janet H. Sanders
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0246-5.ch008
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This chapter provides an overview of the importance of total quality management in supply chain management. It provides a summary of the evolution of quality and how supply chain management fit into the evolution. It then discusses the importance of quality for each entity of the value chain and how the reduction of variability along the entire supply chain is critical to optimum delivery performance. The latter sections of the chapter discuss how quality and continuous improvement tools and methodologies can be mapped with supply chain management strategies to optimize the performance of the entire supply chain.
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The Evolution Of Quality

What is quality? Quality has many definitions but, its primary definition is determined by the perspective of the user. The American Society of Quality Control (ASQ) defines quality as: “A subjective term for which each person or sector has its own definition“ (ASQ, 2011). Quality is not a new concept in the modern business world; however, the concepts and principles evolved over the years. The stones of the pyramids built back in the fifteenth century B.C. show evidence of the importance of quality. The stones were cut so precisely that even today, it is nearly impossible to get a knife blade between them. (Evans & Lindsay, 2008).

Before the days of mass production, the artisan served as both the manufacturer and inspector (ASQ, 2011; Evans & Lindsay, 2008; Summers, 2006). These skilled craftsmen completed individual products and inspected them prior to providing them to the customer. If the customer was dissatisfied with the product, he/she communicated directly with the artisan. This approach to quality was followed by manufacturing in the industrialized world until early in the nineteenth Century.

The factory system approach which emphasized product inspection started in Great Britain in the mid-1750s. This model was a product of the Industrial Revolution in Europe. It divided the craftsmen trade into specialized tasks. Quality was ensured through skilled laborers and was supplemented by inspections and audits. Non-conforming product was reworked or scrapped. Prior to the onset of mass production, the concept of interchangeable parts evolved. In the middle of the eighteenth century, Honoré Le Blanc, a French gunsmith, developed a system for manufacturing muskets to a standard pattern using interchangeable parts (Evans and Lindsay, 2008). After learning about this idea, Thomas Jefferson brought it to America. As a result, the United States government awarded Eli Whitney a contract in 1798 to supply muskets to the armed forces (Evans and Lindsay, 2008). The need for interchangeable parts as well as, the need from random matching of mating parts created the necessity for the control of quality.

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