Quality in Manufacturing and Service Systems

Quality in Manufacturing and Service Systems


Quality in Manufacturing Systems

In manufacturing, quality is an important component of all functions. For example, effective market research is necessary to determine customer needs and identify functional requirements for product designers. Product designers must take care to neither overengineer (resulting in inefficient use of a firm’s resources) nor underengineer products (resulting in poor quality). Purchasing must ensure that suppliers meet quality requirements. Production planning and scheduling should not put undue pressure on manufacturing that will degrade quality. Tool engineering and maintenance are responsible for ensuring that tools, gages, and equipment are properly maintained. Industrial engineering must select the appropriate technology that is capable of meeting design requirements and developing appropriate work methods. Packaging, shipping, and warehousing have the responsibility of ensuring the condition, availability, and timely delivery of products in transit. Ancillary functions such as finance, human resources, and legal services support the quality effort by providing realistic budgets, a well-trained and motivated workforce, and reviews of warranty, safety, and liability issues

Quality in Services

The importance of quality in services cannot be underestimated. Service is a “social act which takes place in direct contact between the customer and representatives of the service company.

In services, the distinguishing features that determine quality differ from manufacturing. The most important dimensions of service quality include:

1. Time: How long must a customer wait?

2. Timelines: Will a package be delivered by 10:30 the next morning?

3. Completeness: Are all items in the order included?

4. Courtesy: Do front-line employees greet each customer cheerfully?

5. Consistency: Are services delivered in the same fashion for every customer?

6. Accessibility and convenience: Is the service easy to obtain?

7. Accuracy: Is the service performed right the first time?

8. Responsiveness: Can service personnel react quickly and resolve unexpected problems?

Many service organizations such as airlines, banks, and hotels have welldeveloped quality assurance systems. Most of them, however, are generally based on manufacturing analogies and tend to be more product-oriented than service-oriented. For example, a typical hotel’s quality assurance system is focused on technical specifications such as properly made-up rooms. However, service organizations have special requirements that manufacturing systems cannot fulfill. Service organizations must look beyond product orientation and pay significant attention to customer transactions and employee behavior

Service organizations should consider the following points:

i.  The quality characteristics that should be controlled may not be the obvious ones. Customer perceptions are critical, and it may be difficult to define what the customer wants. For example, speed of service is an important quality characteristic, yet perceptions of speed may differ significantly among different service organizations and customers. Marketing and consumer research can play a significant role.

ii.  The quality of interaction is a vital factor in every service transaction that involves human contact. For example, banks have found that the friendliness of tellers is a principal factor in retaining depositors.

iii. Image is a major factor in shaping customer expectations of a service and in setting standards by which customers evaluate that service. A breakdown in image can be as harmful as a breakdown in delivery of the service itself. Top management has the responsibility for shaping and guiding the image that the firm projects.

iv. Setting service levels and measuring them may be difficult. Service standards, particularly those relating to human behavior, are often set judgmentally and are difficult to measure. In manufacturing, it is easy to measure output, scrap, and rework. Customer attitudes and employee competence are not as easily measured.

v.  Quality control activity may be required at times or in places where supervision and control personnel are not present. Work must often be performed at the convenience of the customer. Hence, more training of employees and self-management are necessary.

Quality in Manufacturing and Service Systems

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