Is the quality profession about to become obsolete? Paradigm Shift

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#1
Is the quality profession about to become obsolete? I saw this today on misc.industry.quality. It was written by Wayne Lundberg, who has been around for a while but I really don't know much about him.
Wayne Lundberg on misc.industry.quality said:
China is changing everything!

When Taylor, then Galbraith, then Juran, Deming et all forced US manufacturers into thinking lean and mean, we made better and better stuff. Then with WWII we shifted gears into high volume production inspecting every tenth unit and accepting or rejecting but not paying much attention to process, which is Deming's real contribution to quality. The Japanese took it on and suddenly we had near zero rejects due to process control.

That is changing and we are going back to WWII practice with one major difference. There is no after assembly inspection by factory workers. The final assembly, be it a TV set, a generator or whatever is boxed and shipped to PepBoys or the like who sell it to the customers with a great big warning that once bought and out of the store it is under warranty... BUT, AND THIS IS A BIG BUT, the factory will handle it. So, we innocently buy such a device without a second thought because we US consumers have been conditioned to expect quality from our suppliers. Guess what. About one out of ten purchases will end up in the scrap heap by disgusted customers who put their belief in the good name of these vendors. Why? Because there is no factory service around where you bought the unit!

If you want to know more, follow my story. Back in the mid 90's I was general manager for a speaker manufacturer. I ran their Tijuana factory under total quality conditions never letting a defective speaker out the door. The Chinese approached our management and convinced them that the cost for the final product in a beautiful package and box would cost less, landed in LA, than the basic materials we used in making the speakers.

The factory was shut down, I was terminated and product started to roll in to the LA warehouse. About ten to twenty percent of the merchandise was defective. The owners and Chinese made a deal that the US distributor (can't call them manufacturers any more) would place a PO for 15 percent over what was needed and the factory would stand behind the rejects WHEN A CUSTOMER COMPLAINED thus taking the onerous of the transaction off the head of the 'distributor'.

That seems to be the trend in today's market place. The one exception is Harbor Freight that I know of; They do have a return policy that is valid. If your unit fails, they will exchange it on the spot. PepBoys and other read you the warranty riot act to which you agreed to and then you are in the hands of a phone bank filled with uncaring bureaucrats who speak nicely but do not solve your problem and keep you dangling until you junk the purchase, and go to another source.

How's that for a changing paradigm in quality. Will all of us in the field of quality assurance be out of a job pretty soon based on high volume production and customers too compliant to really raise a fuss?

And they do it so candidly! The Pep Boy manager told us that we knew full well that once out of the store anything would have to go through the manufacturer. Only to discover there is no repair nor exchange facility anywhere near us, or if so, 'unauthorized' to make a repair. And even when we offered to pay for the repair, we could not find a repair facility for that particular unit.

Anybody else experience this shift in quality paradigm?
 
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Craig H.

#2
Is the quality profession about to become obsolete? I saw this today on misc.industry.quality. It was written by Wayne Lundberg, who has been around for a while but I really don't know much about him.
Oh, yes, I have seen it. In December I bought an electronic rain gage at the local Ace that had a remote, outdoor, temperature sensor. The base worked, and the electronic rain gage worked, but the remote temp. sensor went out almost immediately. I had no recourse except to package the sensor up and send it back to the factory (which I suspect maybe half of all who experience the problem would not bother with). It cost me maybe $5 to the UPS man (the whole unit cost <$30).

A few weeks later I got a package from them. I expected just the temp sensor, and maybe a form letter telling me what was wrong.

Instead, I got a brand new set; rain gage, base station, and remote sensor. The remote sensor worked, and my co-worker reports that the rain gage and base station work well.

Will I buy again from this manufacturer? Doubt it. Ace would be in trouble, too, if they had not earned such a good reputation with me over the years.
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#3
We're observing a fast-forward Asian version of the Western Industrial Revolution. Almost all of the dynamics I'm noting were present in my grandfather's early childhood.

As I watch events unfold, I'm unnerved because of what we know that the developing countries have yet to place in priority: environment, safety, quality, internal AND external customer satisfaction.

However aghast or smug we feel, however, the essential human struggles remain to be dealt with: in my view, denial and the adolescent "infallibility fable" are at the top of the list.

How far have we in the West progressed, really? Hippocrates was the first recorded physician to recognize that asbestos killed people who mined it. Apparently having finally recognized the risk, the U.S. restricted asbestos (never really banned it) starting in the late 1970s. We've made a lot of progress, but then I hear some big news expose of workplace violations or malfeasance. Did you hear the news stories of Enron traders being taped while gloating about bilking "Grandma Millie"?

China isn't changing everything. China is certainly tipping the scales; the responsibility lies with the customer to apply enough pressure to exert our will and tip the scales back to equilibrium. China's businesses are at least as dollar-centric as we are. They can be budged, but it will require effort and perseverance. To do his part, I suggest Wayne buy his auto parts at NAPA.

Lastly, observe the number and type of posts this forum is receiving from developing countries. While economies of scale will often prevail, I can see a movement starting. Let's not overlook it. Let's encourage it.
 

Helmut Jilling

Auditor / Consultant
#4
Is the quality profession about to become obsolete? I saw this today on misc.industry.quality. It was written by Wayne Lundberg, who has been around for a while but I really don't know much about him.
I think Wayne's article is shortsighted. The risk in hiding behind that viewpoint is the same as when the Big 3 joked in the 70's about those junky Honda 600's the Japanese made. They were pretty poor, and even poorer quality than the junky Detroit iron we made back then. But they were cheap.

The difference is the Japanese applied continual improvement principles and continued to refine the process. The Big 3 sat around smug and fat.

I don't need to explain how the story ended. American industry, and the Big 3 are no longer smug or fat, but many still don't understand.

Today, the Chinese make cheaper and faster. And some of it is junk. But, not all of it. They are reading all the books on Japanese methods of process control. And they are applying it. And they are working hard. And they are determined to better themselves and earn their piece of the American Dream...and they will!

I pray we in American industry, and the Big 3, do not allow ourselves again to be smug and not understand. Or else, history will repeat itself again.

Remember, Japan is a tiny island, but is the 2nd largest economy in the world. What happens when China, (many times bigger) fully comes into it's own? They already hold almost a half Trillion $US in their stash...

Jim Cramer joked today that we should buy Canada and dismantle it. Maybe, one day, China will just buy and dismantle us?
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#5
Today, the Chinese .... are reading all the books on Japanese methods of process control.
And, a lot of Chinese are stopping by here looking for information!!! (Ahemmmm)

I also believe Wayne's article is shortsighted.
 

Randy

Super Moderator
#6
I don't consider myself a "Quality Professional" even though I may work in the quality area from time to time. At one time I may have been, but not really now.

Now that that's over, I think there is going to be some type of transition from what is recognized as the quality profession as it has evolved from the early part of the 20th Century until now...kinda like a menopause thing (no insult intended ladies), a bit it painful at times, some periods of frustration, anxiety and, uncertainty and eventually relief.

"Q" professionals are going to need to adapt to the changes in order to survive. Either that or be replaced by something else that will.

As we go into the "throw-away era" Quality is going to be redefined and those working in it will have to redefine themselves as well.

:2cents:
 

BradM

Staff member
Admin
#8
As we go into the "throw-away era" Quality is going to be redefined and those working in it will have to redefine themselves as well.
Yes! Exactly! Quality will be redefined. How much are handheld calculators now? How much were they 20 years ago? Was there not some definition of quality then and now?

Half the trouble is not coming up with the answer, but figuring out what the problem is. Figuring out how the customer defines quality, and to what extent the customer will reward that quality, is the future quest of the quality practitioner.
 
#9
Today, the Chinese make cheaper and faster. And some of it is junk. But, not all of it. They are reading all the books on Japanese methods of process control. And they are applying it. And they are working hard. And they are determined to better themselves and earn their piece of the American Dream...and they will!
I have been visiting China regularly from 2001 and I can say that there has been a tremendour progress in their manufacturing methods/processes/ systems in the last five to six years. Some of the units I had visited are the best in class...I could see/feel a burning desire to excel among the people. With the movement of quite a few big Taiwanese manufacturers to main-land China, the rules of business are rewritten..With more and more multinationals setting up huge "China Sourcing Departments", the Chinese manufacturers are educated on the demands of the buyer and are guided/trained to meet stringent international norms.......I will not be surprised if we start equating these Chinese companies to say SONI and PANASONIC in the near future.

Best wishes,

Ramakrishnan
 
B

Bill Pflanz

#10
Much of the quality theory was developed for and used by manufacturing. For those who learned quality in the 80's and 90's there is already a shift happening. That is what they know so for them there really must be a paradigm shift or an exodus from the profession. Some of both is already happening as quality professionals jobs are lost to the Chinese or other non-American manufacturing. (Actually all industrialized nations are losing jobs to the developing countries not just Americans.)

The new quality professionals are either novices to manufacturing quality and from the developing countries as can be seen by their larger presence in the Cove or they are novices to service industry quality where there are still jobs. There are a large number of quality professionals who have lost their manufacturing jobs and are now in the service industry. Banking, insurance, retail, computer technology, and medical have all absorbed some of the quality workforce. Others just left the field entirely.

At some point, the developing countries will need to transform their management and workforce to the quality methods or they will be left behind as the junk manufacturers. For the former industrialized nations, they will have to adapt to using their skills in the service areas or the profession will become obsolete. There is one remaining hope and that is all the small manufacturing left that is not worth the effort to move to the developing countries. There will probably always be a demand for quality professionals to serve those companies.

Bill Pflanz
 
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