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All about TQM

Many manufacturers in an effort to improve their processes are turning to Total Quality Management. Total Quality Management (TQM) provides businesses, with the ability to improve its effectiveness, competitiveness, efficiency, and flexibility in order to best suit the needs of its customers. TQM is considered one of the lean manufacturing methods. While many companies quickly catch onto the philosophy of TQM, they often struggle with the implementation of it. One of the most interesting differences of TQM (from other lean manufacturing philosophies) is that it focuses more on the needs of the customer. Businesses who are considering implementing TQM need to review their production process and consider the following questions:

  • Are we meeting customer satisfaction requirements?
  • How long is our production time? Can this be reduced?
  • Do our employees need training on TQM?
  • Should we use improvement teams to improve quality?
  • Has demand-flow manufacturing worked for our company in the past?
Once a business decides to implement TQM there are 10 steps or factors, in the TQM process. They are:
  1. Do not be afraid to pursue new strategic thinking
  2. Know your customers-well.
  3. Set clear, true and concise customer requirements
  4. Focus on prevention, not correction
  5. Reduce chronic waste
  6. Implement a continuous improvement strategy
  7. Use a structured methodology for process improvement
  8. Reduce or eliminate variation
  9. Use a balanced approach to solve problems
  10. Apply solutions to all functions
It is interesting to note that all 10 steps require employees, to get involved within the manufacturing process, and get to know their customers a little better. It is imperative to realize that TQM must be properly managed, and feedback is needed, to ensure it is successful. Remember that you are in charge of creating goals that help to define your process; you must also measure and review the performance of your goals. One of the most critical steps in TQM is analyzing problems, and system shortcomings. You must be able to create some clear and effective goals, for the business to follow. It is then all up to the different departments to properly communicate with one another.

Unlike other processes, TQM is highly focused on customer retention versus finding new customers. The bottom line is that any business can reduce costs, and improve customer satisfaction, by improving the inefficiencies within the business, and throughout the entire production process. Other business will fail to do this, and they will increase their prices to make up for the lost income, they could have if they were to implement TQM. To help you stay on track with the goals of TQM, you will need to address some of the common business questions like:

  • What sets my business apart from our competitors?

  • What make our business and products unique?

  • Why do customers choose our products over our competitors?

  • How can we retain customers?

Employee involvement figures heavily in the success of TQM, and if you have employees that want increased responsibility within the company, TQM may be the perfect solution. TQM provides employees with the opportunity to get involved, because they are each responsible for a key component of the overall process. The reality is that without the involvement of employees, TQM will not be successful. This is also a great way to boost employee morale, because they each feel a sense of pride in their role.

Implementing TQM is not always an easy task. It can take several months, before everyone catches onto the new changes, and before they completely accept them. Keep in mind that not matter the struggles the program is designed to improve quality, and increase customer satisfaction, both of which take a lot of time and effort on your part to do. Communication is the key to making TQM become successful within your company.

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