The History of Quality Management

All About The History Of Quality Management

While Total Quality Management is a relatively new concept, there has been some form of quality control system since the start of the industrial revolution and the birth of modern manufacturing processes during the 18th century. In the early beginnings of quality control, there may have been one person who would inspect each manufactured product as it was completed and if the inspector approved, then it was deemed good enough to be presented to the customer.

As time went by and companies grew larger, so did the responsibility for inspecting the finished product to ensure it was of good quality and what the customer expected. Things progressed rapidly and soon there would be the need for a group and then a department that would be dedicated to inspecting completed products before they were shipped out of the factory.

As things continued to evolve and products became more complex, more sophisticated, there came a need for trained quality inspectors. These inspectors would create processes to ensure that they knew exactly how each product would be inspected, and how they would decide if it was good enough to sell to the customer.

The evolution of quality control

As time went by and quality control began to become more specialised, common issues with the quality control systems started to emerge. These needed to be resolved by the owners of the business or senior management. Some of the issues included:

  • Technical problems started to crop-up with the products and without skilled personnel it caused issues.
  • Inspectors had to be trained. This added to the overall cost was often not taken into consideration.
  • Inspectors on occasion might be asked to pass a marginal product in order to meet a deadline.
  • Often skilled inspectors would be promoted out of quality control and no one would be there to replace them.

To deal with many of the issues that began to appear a new, separate management function began to take shape – quality control. Headed by a senior inspector who was responsible for the quality control function, training and the overall control of product quality within the business, the quality control department was born.

Quality control gets a makeover

It wasn’t until the 1920’s that serious strides in the evolution of quality control were made when a statistician and engineer named Walter A. Shewhart started collecting data and developing statistics to create simple charts dealing with quality control. By the late 1940’s another major change came when a man named W. Edwards Deming used the theories developed by Shewhart and created a system called Statistical Process Control or SPC.

During the 1950’s Japanese businesses started to use quality management practices in many of their manufacturing plants. They soon became the defacto guru’s when it came to quality management and other manufacturing process improvement systems.

The evolution of Total Quality Management

In 1969 at a world conference the term “Total Quality” was first coined by Japanese quality specialists. By the end of the 1970’s most of the factories in Japan were already using Total Quality Management (TQM) systems. However, it wasn’t until the 1980’s that the USA jumped on the TQM bandwagon and it began to grow more rapidly. As time went by more and more American businesses started to see the benefits of adopting the TQM system.

In 1987 the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) developed a standard for quality management called the ISO 9000. This standard is now used successfully by many organisations around the world and is widely accepted as the quality management “gold standard”. Moving in to the 21st century, there is now a new emerging business framework gaining traction, especially in Europe called “Business Excellence” or simply “Excellence”.

As management practices, technology and businesses continue to evolve, so too will quality processes in order to keep up with all of the changes.

World-class quality management frameworks

Quality Management Systems deliver a comprehensive range of world-class quality management frameworks, auditing, training and QMS software solutions to organisations wishing to increase customer satisfaction, achieve greater consistency in the delivery products and services, build profitability and enhance reputations.

If you would like to learn more about our quality management systems, and how we can help you develop world-class processes please get in touch today.

Further reading…

More information about the ISO 9001 QMS … here →