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After More than 60 Years, are Deming’s Basic Tools of Quality Still Relevant?

In this age of rapidly advancing technologies, it would seem that concepts put in practice more than half a century ago would be obsolescent? if not totally obsolete. Still, the concept of mass production is even older, yet it seems to keep humming along.

If You Don’t Know What You’re Doing …

The 7 basic tools for quality and continual improvement, as promoted by W. Edwards Deming and Kaoru Ishikawa are so basic that they have remained unchanged since their inception. The reason for the introduction of these tools was simple. Deming and Ishikawa not only wanted to stress the point that these tools could not only make significant improvements in a company’s manufacturing processes, but they could easily be taught and just as easily comprehended by that company’s workforce.

A pair of quotes attributed to Deming, gives an insight into what he and Ishikawa had in mind when introducing these tools:
If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t do too much of it.
Change is not necessary? nor is survival mandatory.

Excelsys Technologies, and other major corporations, follow the Deming Ishikawa approach. It does not take a great deal of thought to see how or why we have been able to successfully apply each of these tools to our production of modular, configurable, power supplies. These 7 QC tools take on even added importance when taking into account the fact that our products often need to be customized to meet a customer’s specific needs.

The 7 Tools

  • The first of these, Cause and Effect Diagrams (also known as Fishbone or Ishikawa Diagrams) date back to 1940. Excelsys relies on these charts to sort problems into meaningful categories? making it easier to drill down to their root causes.
  • The Check Sheet is a simple, yet powerful tool that captures data in a highly formalized format, and a solid base for decision making.
  • Control (Run) Charts are more complex. Excelsys uses these charts as aids in controlling complex manufacturing processes.
  • Histograms display frequency distributions of data that give us highly effective visual depictions of continual improvement status.
  • Pareto Charts can reveal interesting statistics. They show how most manufacturing problems are due to a relatively few causes. They make life simpler.
  • Scatter Plots or Diagrams indicate relationships between variables. While these diagrams prove nothing, knowing if relationships exist can be useful for driving process improvements.
  • Flow Charts can make often make the incomprehensible obvious. Deming recognised that humans rely heavily on visual examples when he came up with this one.

All 7 tools do not have to be applied to every process to effectively improve that process. There are times when one or two will suffice. Try them? you will see that they are as every bit as meaningful as when they were 60 years ago.

Excelsys Technologies has been a leader in power supply design and manufacturing for more than 20 years, providing high power density, high efficiency power supplies for industrial, medical, lighting, commercial, and military clients.

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