QUALITY: The Most Important Word in Products & Services

By Corey Switzer
Last night Wendy and I attended the ASQ Buffalo Chapter monthly meeting. It was a forum recommended by Mike Cardus – a completely awesome, well known team building advocate in the Buffalo area.
Anyway, we really like Mike and took him up on his offer to attend a meeting and hopefully get introduced to some NEAT Quality Professionals.
Aside from some yummo chicken picata and apple pie for dessert, Wendy and I got to meet some pretty awesome people who reminded me of how important, how integral quality programs are to today’s businesses – large and small. If you’re manufacturing a product – high quality is expected.
If you’re providing a service (like an oil change, which is where I’m writing this blog) – high quality service is expected. Long story short – QA and QC professionals aren’t just found working in manufacturing. There’s a high demand for certified QA/QC/QE professionals in healthcare, environmental management, food safety, IT, construction, retail, etc.
As a matter of fact, as I had mentioned to our table last night – if I had it to do all over again I would love to start a career in quality compliance and/or engineering. In a manufacturing sense Quality encompasses things like Lean/Six Sigma program implementation, ISO compliance, product quality testing using GD&T and sometimes NDT, and improving processes to decrease non-conformance and increase thru-put.
How much fun would it be to act as the perennial problem solver? How can we do this better? How can we do this more efficiently? How can we increase quality without increasing our cost? Maybe it’s not the right cup of tea for everyone, but I find that particular kind of challenge fascinating. It’s well and good to be the innovator, but it’s rewarding to take an idea and make it feasibly manufacturable.

ASQ – American Society for Quality (they have chapters all over the country – for instance, we dined with the Buffalo chapter last night!)

QA/QC – Quality Assurance/Quality Control (Two terms that have many interpretations because of the multiple definitions for the words “assurance” and “control.” For example, “assurance” can mean the act of giving confidence, the state of being certain or the act of making certain; “control” can mean an evaluation to indicate needed corrective responses, the act of guiding or the state of a process in which the variability is attributable to a constant system of chance causes. *For a detailed discussion on the multiple definitions, see ANSI/ISO/ASQ A3534-2, Statistics—Vocabulary and Symbols—Statistical Quality Control.* One definition of quality assurance is: all the planned and systematic activities implemented within the quality system that can be demonstrated to provide confidence that a product or service will fulfill requirements for quality. One definition for quality control is: the operational techniques and activities used to fulfill requirements for quality. Often, however, “quality assurance” and “quality control” are used interchangeably, referring to the actions performed to ensure the quality of a product, service or process. – thank you for the info asq.org!)

QE – Quality Engineering (The analysis of a manufacturing system at all stages to maximize the quality of the process itself and the products it produces. – thank you for the info asq.org!)

ISO – International Standardization Organization (ISO offers certifications for almost EVERY company from a manufacturer to a business service provider!)

LEAN Principles – (Lean manufacturing/production: An initiative focused on eliminating all waste in manufacturing processes. Principles of lean manufacturing include zero waiting time, zero inventory, scheduling *internal customer pull instead of push system*, batch to flow *cut batch sizes*, line balancing and cutting actual process times. The production systems are characterized by optimum automation, just-in-time supplier delivery disciplines, quick changeover times, high levels of quality and continuous improvement. – thank you for the info asq.org!)

Six Sigma – (A method that provides organizations tools to improve the capability of their business processes. This increase in performance and decrease in process variation leads to defect reduction and improvement in profits, employee morale and quality of products or services. Six Sigma quality is a term generally used to indicate a process is well controlled by examining standard deviations in a normally distributed process.  – thanks for the info asq.org!)

GD&T – Geometric Dimensioning & Tolerancing (methods and tools used to test the quality of a manufactured product)

NDT – Non Destructive Testing (methods and tools used to test the quality of a manufactured metal product. These tests assess strength without corrupting the internal structure of the metal)