Quality 4.0: It’s time for a QMS Revolution

Why is it time for a Quality Management System revolution?

The world is more complex than it used to be. Businesses around the globe rely heavily on one another through densely intertwined supply chains. Human biases lead to poor business decisions that could be avoided by making decisions based on facts, data, and fundamental Quality principles. Technology interfaces are evolving at exponential rates with advancements in robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and big data. Meanwhile, customers demand increasing levels of Quality at lower prices with an insatiable appetite for new products being released at breakneck speeds.

This complexity leads to dependent systems that often fail despite attempts to build in redundancy. Processes break down, natural disasters, supply disruption caused by material shortages, and even scandals caused by poor leadership and decision-making all contribute to the risk of failure. These problems aren’t going away. In fact, with the number of recalls across the medical and automotive industries, as well as continued problems with food safety, there is evidence that the scale of such problems is increasing. Below are recall statistics relating to medical devices, US national highway traffic safety, and food safety. These statistics highlight that there have been no significant improvements since 2010 despite increasing regulations and changes to standards.

I spoke with a data scientist about a year ago. He wasn’t a Quality professional, but something he said stuck in my mind: Nothing really innovative has come out of the Quality profession in terms of the tools, theory, and techniques since its founding. This got me thinking. Despite their age, we still constantly refer back to the original principles of Quality, such as Deming’s 14 points, The Juran Trilogy, Juran’s Cost of Quality, Philip Crosby’s book Quality is Free, and Crosby’s Zero Defects program with Glenn L. Martin (today Lockheed Martin) among others. I realized that while all these ideas are still very relevant, the data scientist’s statement was true: there have not been any major breakthroughs in the world of Quality theory for quite some time.

Many of today’s organizations have not yet fully embraced Juran’s emphasis on strategic Quality planning. As evidence for this, consider Volkswagen’s dieselgate scandal, which ended up costing them over $US 136 billion. This number amounts to 53% of Volkswagen’s 2016 annual revenue of $US 256 billion, which far exceeds the rule of thumb that says the Cost of Quality in a business should represent no more than 10-25% of sales. Let’s also not forget Samsung’s exploding battery recall and the impact that had on the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S7. Given the current state of affairs across industries, it’s time to emphasize a focus on innovative breakthroughs and positive change: it’s time for a QMS revolution. This is where Quality 4.0 can potentially help combat the complex challenges and risks that continue to confront today’s Quality professionals and managers. To learn more about complex systems and risk, check out Andras Tilcsik’s book “Meltdown: Why Our Systems Fail and What We Can Do About It”.

What is Quality 4.0?

Quality 4.0 is the application of the fourth industrial revolution – also known as Industry 4.0 – to the world of Quality. It’s about leveraging collaboration between people and technology such as the Internet, connected devices, automation, and smart manufacturing. Ultimately, these advancements will use big data to improve and decentralize decision-making in real time while also increasing productivity, reducing costs, and scaling operations.

Global Quality is constantly evolving. During the first industrial revolution in the late 18th century, steam engines and looms began the process of mechanization of labor. In the second industrial revolution in the early years of the 20th century, mass production in the automotive industry pushed the global economy to new heights. These industry developments also produced changes in the approach to Quality, moving from a product-based approach of inspecting for Quality to a process-based approach focused on Quality planning and error proofing. The third industrial revolution introduced the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) and a shift towards digital technology, with pervasive use of computers, CAD/CAM, and other technologies to improve design, manufacturing, and automation.

Source: Christoph Roser at AllAboutLean.com.

The fourth industrial evolution is about digital transformation and “smart manufacturing,” where internet-connected devices communicate with one another and leverage human-machine interfaces. These systems use cloud technology to collect data that provide real-time insights and decentralize decision-making.

Industry 4.0 technology will play a significant role in the evolution of Quality 4.0 and its application to future business. As Quality 4.0 matures, it will improve our ability to plan strategic quality initiatives, quality control in operations, and continue to drive continuous improvement transformations in our respective industries.

To learn more about Quality 4.0, watch the webinar sponsored by PECB, where I also discuss how IoT and IIoT enable next-generation Quality Management Systems, enhance skills that Quality professionals need for the digital age, and expand the role of social media platforms in Quality projects.

3 thoughts on “Quality 4.0: It’s time for a QMS Revolution

  1. This article is on the right track but falls short in the area advanced analytics. It’s definitely true that many tools are old because Quality folks have not fully adopted technology. They don’t appreciate all the power of information in a data warehouse because they were raised on SAMPLING. They haven’t been introduced to analytical software for predictive modeling or machine learning to handle high volumes and/or high velocity data. See my paper on Disruptive Analytics in September Quality Progress. ASQ has a great initiative on Quality 4.0. It goes beyond any blogs that I’ve seen so far.

  2. A very interesting article. I have been observing quality implementation in construction and I think, construction industry is still into second generation. With the cost of cyber physical systems decreasing every day and their utility never in doubt, I wonder, what is holding the industry to adopt them. Basically, it is inertia, I guess. Look forward to more such ideas. Best Regards

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