TQM, or total quality management, exists alongside lean manufacturing concepts. It does not fall under the umbrella of lean components, although it works with them harmoniously.
What Is TQM?
The definition of TQM seems to shift and change depending on the source. Shoji Shiba, an international expert on TQM methodologies, defines it as “an evolving system of practices, tools, and training methods for managing companies to provide customer satisfaction in a rapidly changing world.”
Although incredibly vague, his definition is accurate. TQM is a system that aims to increase the quality of a company’s outputs (ideas, assemblies, products, services) to achieve better performance in all ways. It can be hard to pin down a solid definition of TQM, as its meaning changes across companies and industries.
The one common thread across all TQM followers is continuous, constant improvement.
How Does TQM Work?
In the case of Dahlstrom Roll Form, TQM means continuous improvement through constant data analysis.
To start, we gather every bit of performance data we can find, comb through it to identify the quality pieces of information, and analyze it for opportunities to improve. Once we lock onto improvement opportunities, we build a plan to implement changes, and track those changes to make sure they’re benefitting us and our customers. The question we ask throughout this process is “Did we obtain the results we wanted to achieve?” If not, we head back to the drawing board.
As this process moves along, we continue to gather data and analyze areas for improvement.
Benefits of TQM
In 1991, the General Accounting Office conducted a study that attempted to establish a link between TQM and company performance. The study found that “better employee relations and improved operating procedures had been achieved, greater customer satisfaction had been accomplished, and an increased market share and profitability had been gained.”
An article in the Middle East Journal of Scientific Research lists eight benefits for manufacturing companies:
- Improved product quality for customers
- Improved customer satisfaction
- Improved work environment
- Improved operational performance
- Improved teamwork and problem solving procedures
- Increased profits
- Increased employee satisfaction
- Reduced waste
Aside from these direct benefits, TQM also allows manufacturers to increase the range of products and services available, improve current products, and increase production efficiency overall.
At Dahlstrom specifically, we’ve noticed all of these benefits. As Rob White, President of Dahlstrom Roll Form, says: “Continuous Improvement is part of our daily work presence. I am proud to say that 93% of our employees directly contribute continuous improvement initiatives on which we take action every year. We expect to see even more benefits as we continue to implement positive changes based on hard data analysis and customer feedback.”
Editor's note: This article was originally published in January 2016, and has recently been updated.
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