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What you should know about TQM

Total Quality Management (TQM) can be defined as the management of procedures that are designed to produce quality products and services. Manufacturing companies are turning in great numbers to using TQM. There are a number of different components that make up TQM, including:

- Management involvement-TQM works best from the top down in any organization. Management should be heavily involved in making sure that there is an environment within the business that will be conducive to the success of TQM.
- Employee training-This is an integral component of TQM. Without the proper training employees will not be able to implement the methods and concepts that make up TQM.
- Focus on customer service-Every improvement that is put into place with TQM should have the ultimate result of making the customer happier and more satisfied.
- Focused decision making-Information is gathered and analyzed before any key decisions are made concerning quality improvement.
- Tools and processes-When using TQM there are appropriate processes and tools that are used to help identify, measure, and respond to problems.
- Consistent improvement practices-When manufacturers are committed to using TQM they are constantly working toward improving the quality of their production process.
- Company attitude-The use of TQM should affect the company culture so that employees are working together to improve quality. This new attitude includes higher levels of employee involvement where employees are encouraged to be pro-active in identifying and addressing problems that are related to quality.
One of the major obstacles in manufacturing companies implementing TQM is that many business owners mistakenly believe that the costs of implementing the program are too high for the benefits that it produces. However, studies have shown that in fact manufacturers will pay far more if they do nothing to improve the quality of their production process. In addition, these costs are much higher then the costs of putting TQM in place within their business. It is crucial that manufacturing business owners do the appropriate amount of research to understand what the costs of TQM really are.

The real costs of TQM have been broken down into the following categories-
- Prevention costs-These are costs that come with the design, implementation and maintenance of the TQM system. They are planned and incurred before actual operation, and can include several different areas. These areas include-
1. Product requirements-This will be the cost for changes that will have to be made to the production process.
2. Quality plans-These are costs that will be related to the planning stages of TQM. They will be incurred as the plans to improve the process are put into place. There will also be cost associated with the creation and maintenance of the quality system.
3. Training-Employee training is crucial to the success of TQM. These are any costs that are associated with the training aspect of TQM.
- Appraisal costs-These are costs that are associated with the vendors and customer's evaluation of purchased materials and services. Using TQM will insure that the ordered products are made to the right specifications. These costs can include: verification of quality through audits and vendor evaluations. TQM is designed to catch problems before the order is actually shipped to the customer.
- Failure costs-These are costs that occur when results fail to reach quality standards and are detected while they are still in the production process.Using TQM will insure that these costs are kept at the lowest possible levels. . These can include: any type of waste that is found throughout the organization, scrap (meaning defect products), reworking of defect materials and an analysis of why the failure occurred.

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