Quality management: Lean Manufacturing as prerequisite

Quality management: Lean Manufacturing as prerequisite

Overview

  • Release Date: April 18, 2017

Lean manufacturing, Quality Six Sigma or lean Six Sigma (a combination of lean manufacturing and Quality Six Sigma) refers to management methods used to enhance quality and productivity in business organizations. Lean manufacturing is not replacement for the quality system; it must be fully integrated into the quality system to make it more effective.

Transitioning to a lean manufacturing is synonymous of a change in attitude within the company, and this requires management of the highest quality. Chinese firms need to transform themselves into ones that are consistent with the lean manufacturing paradigm [2]. Lean manufacturing is a prerequisite to become industry 4.0 and requires a change in corporate cultures, systems and practices. Haier, one of China’s leading brands is just one example of China’s enthusiastic uptake of Western corporate culture ideals (quality control, customer service etc.) over the last thirty years. Lean manufacturing begins with an organizational commitment to the continuous improvement of quality until reach Quality Six Sigma (3 defects per million of products or services). Instead of viewing quality in a defensive, negative way, quality can now be used to maximize a firm’s competitive opportunities. As a result, quality needs to be defined from the perspective of market competition and customer expectation, instead of in terms of predetermined, internal standards or design specifications. For instance, Chinese firms should shift their emphasis from fixing and inspecting products so they are perfect to fixing processes so they produce perfection. Moreover, they should systematically use customer feedback to improve the design of products/services and the process of producing those products or delivering those services. This simple concept allowed the Japanese to capture new markets during more than twenty years.

One of the current challenges is the transfer of this expertise from Japan or Europe towards the China which applies for it today. The great question is: What will be the possible effects of introducing Lean Manufacturing in China? Even though the GLOBE (Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness) dimensions predict that Chinese values may be consistent with the lean Six Sigma values, implementing the practices in China may be difficult [3].  The foreign know-how through the JV (Joint Venture) or training will enable to save time for Chinese industrialists. The developed skills of the Chinese industrialists, which benefited in the past of the technology transfer from a JV, are unstoppable. However, industrial excellence comes only from challenge and achievement. Companies or people only change and improve when they are challenged.

About Author

Enoch Sonounameto

Enoch Sonounameto is the Regional Director for West Africa of Dynatom International. Enoch is in charge of Systems Assurance and Strategic Maintenance Consulting for energy and transportation projects.

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