Even Measurement QA, to be effective, needs a strong foundation within any organization

Measurement Quality Assurance (QA) is more than having confidence in measurement devices, it provides a consistent framework that assures that your whole measurement process is in control and functioning properly.

We will provide links under this subject both here and elsewhere in my blog on the subject to point to some of the many fine links on the Web that provide a sounder basis for understanding the QA process as applied to measurement devices.

One of the mainstays of Measurement QA is Quality Assurance itself. It is an organizational environment or attitude that fosters a sound management of both the people and processes. Without a open minded appreciation of what is involved in effective QA from the Board Room, or organization headquarters, there is little hope of ever achieving lasting success.

This was recognized by the late W. Edwards Deming and codified in one of his publications a few years ago. He developed a philosophy of management by working backwards, from effect to cause. It is strikingly simple in concept and based on his insightful personal history.

The amazing thing about his philosophy is that it works so well. Just compare the success of a Deming-minded organization, like Toyota Motor Company, to a non Deming-minded one, like General Motors from 1970 to the present.
(It is a most graphic comparison and if you need to ask for details, you haven’t been paying attention to the business world over the last 30 or 40 years. There are many, many more, but this one, I think proves the point sufficiently.)

For that reason, I have listed Deming’s famous 14 points below:

14 Points From: Chapter 2 of Out of the Crisis by W. Edwards Deming

  1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and to stay in business, and to provide jobs.
  2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.
  3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.
  4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move toward a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.
  5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.
  6. Institute training on the job.
  7. Institute leadership. The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets to do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.
  8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.
  9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, to foresee problems of production and in use that may be encountered with the product or service.
  10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.

    * Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute leadership.
    * Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership.

  11. Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality.

  12. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means, inter alia, abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objective.
  13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.
  14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody’s job.


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Personal Note:
I didn’t come by this information by accident. For nearly 13 years I was employed by a major steel company serving the US Automotive market.

When I first joined them, there was a serious attempt on the part of the company management to build a “Deming-like” company. At least that’s what we were told, but in slightly different terms.

All staff members of “my company” were trained in Statistical Process Control (SPC). A gigantic mainframe computer database (this was in the ’80s & ’90s) was established to collect and massage process data to help monitor and manage the control of many manufacturing lines and operations using SPC principles.

As time went on, it became clear that many middle level managers only paid lip service to the requirements of the SPC program, and further, that the senior management were even less committed to it.

The personnel side of the operations were never anything close to ideals promoted by Deming.

Slogans never stopped, work standards and management by objective were the watchwords of management philosophy along with many other “traditional management methods”. Needless to say, the reason I am no longer at the Steel Company, is because the company failed along with a whole group of USA steel companies that today are parts of the Mittal Steel organization, the world’s largest steel company.

From what I read and hear from friends and associates, they don’t do things any better at Mittal than the company where I originally worked. Time will tell, of course.

There are still many stories to relate about my experiences working in a QA-rich, SPC environment and hopefully I will get to them, in turn, in the regular post section under the Deming vs Dilbert series.

I also worked for a relatively small UK-based Instrumentation company run and managed mostly by physicists. There’s lots of stories there, too, but the measurement QA was never in jeopardy at the small company, at any time.

In fact at that company, it was so good we actually uncovered at one point a serious gap in the temperature measurement capability of a USA NIST laboratory.

That’s an old story (the gap was closed many years ago, fyi), I’d rather forget.


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Measurement QA — 2 Comments

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