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Managing Quality Improvement on a Development Pilot Line

Summary: Quality management tools traditionally applied in manufacturing operations were successfully used to reduce development cycle time on a high-technology pilot line. Productivity metrics such as equipment utilization, rework, outgates, and yield were adapted after being suitably modified for application to technology development. Production models, capable of deconvolving the multiple factors that affected the level of development activity, were used to identify those parts of the process in need of improvement. Pareto charts were generated for maximizing the rate of improvement. For every operation and process, work instructions were written within the scope of a document control system, similar in concept to those used in manufacturing operations and largely consistent with the requirements of ISO 9000. A disciplined adherence to the document control system facilitated technology development by providing consistency in operations and records that could be used for analyzing results. In addition to their application to the reduction of development cycle time, quality management tools and statistical process control were successfully applied to defect reduction. The importance of management, in contrast to technical solutions, was revealed when management responsibility for improvement was transferred to managers inexperienced in total quality management; while the engineering staff was left largely intact, the rate of improvement was significantly reduced.

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  • Topics: ISO 9000, Total Quality Management
  • Keywords: Productivity,ISO 9000,Cycle time,Case study,Total Quality Management (TQM)
  • Author: Levinson, Harry J; Ben-Jacob, Jake
  • Journal: Quality Management Journal