Concept Of Quality – Historical Background
The concept of quality as we think of it now first emerged out of the Industrial Revolution. Previously goods had been made from start to finish by the same person or team of people, with handcrafting and tweaking the product to meet ‘quality criteria’. Mass production brought huge teams of people together to work on specific stages of production where one person would not necessarily complete a product from start to finish. In the late 1800s pioneers such as Frederick Winslow Taylor and Henry Ford recognized the limitations of the methods being used in mass production at the time and the subsequent varying quality of output. Taylor established Quality Departments to oversee the quality of production and rectifying of errors, and Ford emphasized standardization of design and component standards to ensure a standard product was produced. Management of quality was the responsibility of the Quality department and was implemented by Inspection of product output to ‘catch’ defects. Application of statistical control came later as a result of World War production methods. Quality management systems are the outgrowth of work done by W. Edwards Deming, a statistician, after whom the Deming Prize for quality is named.
Quality, as a profession and the managerial process associated with the quality function, was introduced during the second-half of the 20th century, and has evolved since then. Over this period, few other disciplines have seen as many changes as the quality profession.
The quality profession grew from simple control, to engineering, to systems engineering. Quality control activities were predominant in the 1940s, 950s, and 1960s. The 1970s were an era of quality engineering and the 1990s saw quality systems as an emerging field. Like medicine, accounting, and engineering, quality has achieved status as a recognized profession.