From development to production: strategic quality management enables it

In Innovation, Strategic Quality by Willem BaeldeLeave a Comment

What are the consequences if one not only designs and develops new products but also starts actual production? That is the question for which this specialized semiconductor-packaging firm seeks an answer.

For quite some time this firm is active in design and development of semiconductor-packaging solutions for special applications (e.g. sensors) for use by professional customers. To facilitate such development the company owns and operates all required machines and has a facility for tool (molds) making. Using these facilities they supply their customers at every new development with a number of samples for evaluation.

When one already makes and supplies samples starting up volume production seems a small step. Nevertheless customer expectations for production are completely different than for sample making: maximum supply reliability and constant, reproducible product quality. On top additional requirements may apply such as meeting specific standards for product inspection and reliability or conformance to a prescribed quality system.
The strategic choice for high-mix / low-volume production with a high and warranted quality level not only has consequences for the operational departments directly involved but also for the various supporting functions within the company.

Naturally such choice has direct consequences for the operational processes, ranging from order acquisition until product delivery to the customer. The execution of these activities is clearly under the accountability of the respective operational managers and their departments (Marketing and Sales, Production preparation, Production, Logistics, etc.).
But how to warrant the required predictability and reproducibility? To answer this question strategic quality management can create the clarity required, especially with respect to the contribution of the supporting managers and their departments. Because of their specific knowledge on managing their aspects of the business the supporting departments are in the best position to determine the most optimum way of working to warrant the expected results, i.e. accountability at HR for the man-related processes, at Purchasing for material, at the Controller for investments in machines and tools and at the Quality manager for documenting the working methods in the quality system.

Finally customers of production companies expect their suppliers to continuously improve themselves. To that end processes need to be installed to continuously measure, monitor and regularly review the performance of the company. Based on such review management can decide where investments in further improvement have to be done. These processes are under the accountability of the General Manager.

Starting with the strategic quality management approach and by closely looking at customer expectations an effective architecture has been designed for the quality system. By assigning accountability for operational and supporting processes at the respective members of the management effective collaboration can be built that will enable the company to serve its customers well and will support strong growth of the company.

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