Quality of goods and services is not new concept. Quality was an issue all the time. In every society, quality products are expected from the providers of goods and services.  Society believes that it is their obligation to provide quality products.


Quality Becomes Responsibility

King Hammurabi (1700 BC - king of Babylon) is believed to be the first King who introduced the concept of product quality and related liability. He had introduced a practice of obtaining a declaration from the builders, when he assigned contractors to build houses. It was in the form of a declaration to be made by the construction team. The declaration included a sentence like this: ‘If the building falls and the owner is killed then the builder shall be put to death. If the owner’s children are killed then the builders’ children shall be put to death’. This declaration asserts, how much the producers and manufacturers should be vigilant in quality production.


Impact of Scientific Management

Later, as part of industrial revolution, when mass production strategies were adopted by large factories; specialist superiors such as foremen, supervisors, managers etc. were appointed to ensure quality. When F W Taylor introduced scientific management, more systematic approaches were developed. Taylor introduced division of labour and specialization in factories and this helped the companies to produce more with higher quality.


Quality Questions

Quality became an essential requirement during First World War. During the war, the supply of reliable products to the forces, was a challenge. Not only, was the reliability of the products; but the supply timing also was the problem for them. Thus, delivery time was counted as a criterion for determining quality. Since then different sections of society discussed the concept of quality. This led to the formation of associations and institutes, and they started to publish formalized ideas in quality. As a consequence, in Britain, the Technical Inspection Association was formed in 1919.


Statistical Quality Control

In 1924, W A Shewhart of Bell Telephone Laboratories developed a statistical chart for the control of product variables. This chart is considered to be the beginning of statistical quality control. However, the statistical quality control became popular during 1942 only. British Standards Institute (BSI) published the first standard on quality control during 1932. In 1946, the American Society for Quality Control was formed.; later its name was changed as American Society for Quality.


Story of Japan

During Second World War, the quality aspects of products were again questioned in many developed countries. However, the real success story of quality thinking emerged in one of the defeated nations; Japan. Following the Second World War Japan’s industry was badly affected and the goods it produced were known for their inferior quality. During 50s and 60s Japanese cars were virtually impossible to sell in the United States or Europe.

A major thrust in Japanese manufacturing was to tackle these difficulties by employing and developing quality approaches. As a consequence, the Japanese launched a new nationalistic drive for economic expansion of the Nation, specializing in quality.

For Japan, Quality was a national “survival” strategy and therefore, Japanese industries were particularly receptive to the quality messages. The two famous persons who played a major role in this process of improvement were W. Edwards Deming, and J. M. Juran. They tried hard in working out sound quality techniques during the war and in the post-war period. The Japanese culture played the key role in understanding and implementing the lessons preached by both Deming and Juran. Deming believed that no matter how powerful the tool of mathematical statistics might be, it would be ineffective unless used in the correct cultural context. He underlined the importance of quality culture, over and above all other management efforts.


Quality Control Circle and TQM

In 1960, the first Quality Control Circles were formed for the purpose of quality improvement.  During late 70s and early 80s the concept of TQM was formulated.  In accordance with this, during 1987 ISO 9000 standards were firstly published by International Standards Organization (ISO). ISO 9000 deals with the fundamentals of quality management systems. It includes a set of standards that helps organizations to ensure quality of their products, within statutory and regulatory requirements. During 1990s quality management became the international management philosophy and still continuing into this new millennium.


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