What Are the Advantages of Total Quality Management?

Jan Fletcher

The primary advantages of total quality management (TQM) are cost control through elimination of wasteful procedures and production failures, and higher productivity that comes from having a well trained workforce. Reducing injuries among workers is another impetus for practicing total quality management. Another benefit of TQM includes obtaining a higher level of quality and consistency in the supply chain. Total quality management tools were originally developed through U.S. efforts to rebuild Japanese production facilities post World War II. It is a philosophy of optimizing productivity that uses statistical process control to prevent waste and reduce defects.

Total quality control focuses on responsibility in small groups of workers.
Total quality control focuses on responsibility in small groups of workers.

Since a major tenet of TQM is that the majority of problems arise from a small number of causes, many companies have found that a relatively modest effort in eliminating waste offers a significant return on investment (ROI). In considering the advantages of total quality management, companies analyze production procedures with an eye toward eliminating wasted steps. This avoids the accumulation of scrap leftover from production activities. Sometimes a company's efforts in reducing waste offer a higher ROI than a similar investment put into increasing productivity.

Total quality management ensures high-quality output from every division within the organization.
Total quality management ensures high-quality output from every division within the organization.

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Human error or machinery in need of maintenance may result in items that must be discarded because they fail to meet quality control guidelines. Sometimes, procedures themselves must be reformulated to maximize use of raw materials. For example, in cutting a sheet of metal, a reconfiguration of the cut pieces may be possible, eliminating leftover scraps. These types of initiatives are natural outflows of a well managed TQM operation.

A reduction of injuries and prevention of fatalities are two of the major advantages of total quality management programs. Often this is a natural outflow of the strict ordering that occurs in organizing a workplace and specifying manufacturing procedures. Workers who are consistently trained in standardized methods and procedures are less likely to make mistakes that result in injuries.

Routines well established in the mind usually lead to healthy habits that protect workers on the job. For example, if a worker uses a ladder once a week on average, the training in a TQM program will likely be reinforced through regular practice. As a result, the ladder will probably be returned to the same place each time. This means a worker will be more likely to use the ladder in the proper fashion and will be less likely to suffer a fall.

Two of the primary advantages of total quality management include high-quality output and a consistent supply chain. Consistency in the supply chain translates into less waste and workers who are not idled. TQM systems typically include quality control checks at all stages of the manufacturing process.

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