What is Total Quality Control?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Total quality control, also known as total quality management or total quality control management, is an approach to addressing quality through close monitoring at every stage of the process used at a business to produce products. This concept stresses constant reform in response to feedback in order to keep errors as low as possible. There are a number of ways in which companies can implement total quality control, depending on how they are organized and what types of products they make.

Total quality control management includes close monitoring of every phase of a factory production process.
Total quality control management includes close monitoring of every phase of a factory production process.

This approach to management was developed in the 1940s and 1950s. W. Edwards Deming is often credited with being one of the key figures in the genesis of total quality control. It combines philosophies about factory management and product quality from Japan and the United States, a reflection of Deming's work in Japanese factories. With the assistance of systems like total quality control, Japan's highly organized factories managed to bounce back from the Second World War to become significant contributors, especially in the technology sector.

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

Several different facets of the process of production are stressed in total quality control. The first is the interconnected nature of factory work, with a focus on responsibility in small groups, which makes workers feel a personal responsibility to the company. This improves worker morale, which contributes to more efficiency in addition to more proactive solutions to problems. When problems arise in a factory, they are subjected to analysis to find out what caused them and how they can be prevented in the future.

This analysis can determine whether internal or external factors are causing the problem. Internal factors can include things like inadequate training, poor layout of workspaces, and understaffing. Things that can cause problems on an external level can include issues such as supply chain inconsistencies. A high emphasis is placed on safety and reliability at every step, as well as promoting cooperation, innovation, and commitment on the part of employees.

Companies that utilize total quality control are concerned with the steps involved in production, believing that inspection of the methods results in a better product. While products are still inspected for quality when they are completed, errors should ideally be identified during the process, before a product ever rolls off the line. If problems become recurrent or substantial, a complete reevaluation of the process and the personnel may be required to determine the root of the problem and address it.

Total quality control ensures high-quality output from every division within the organization.
Total quality control ensures high-quality output from every division within the organization.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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