Quality by Design

Before I continue to talk about the future of quality, lets take a step backwards and look at how quality control methodology had evolved through the decades. Being a thirtysomething, I spent a large part of the 90s in school. I had a strong perception of what Quality Control (QC) was even then thanks to the QC ladies in the laboratory that my late father supervised. They sat all day, each of them operating a tabletop equipment. There were rubber samples in different forms and sizes for different tests. They tested the samples piece by piece and scribbled the results down in an almost mechanical pattern.

QC = Inspection

When I started working in the late 90s, the wave of change was hitting our shore. Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Management (QM) became the more popular terms. Fate had it that I was reappointed from a Process Engineer to a ‘QA’ Executive and I was to oversee the ‘QA’ department covering QC inspection as well as ISO documentation.

QC => QA = Inspection + Documentation

Year 2000 was a landmark year to most of us due to the release of ISO9001 : 2000 quality management standard. It provided the perfect platform for me to revamp the quality management system of the manufacturing company I was working for, a Taiwanese-German joint venture. The more holistic new standard encouraged documentation to be structured in ways harmonious with people and processes. People from all levels and functions are responsible for quality. I reduced QC headcount drastically and transferred inspection responsibility at every production stage fully to the production workers. The remaining QC personnel were reassigned to do “upstream QC” work e.g. supplier management and product development to ensure good material and product design. We shifted our focus from detecting and rejecting bad end product to preventing bad product and detecting them early.

QC => QA => QM = Inspection + Documentation + Design (Supplier Management + Product Development + Process Control)

Stepping into the whitewater world of the 21st century, the practice of quality by design helped us sail through.

What now? Read ‘Future of Quality’ posts.

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One Response

  1. Feel free to comment or share your quality evolution theory and equation.

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