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Those Who Fail to Look at the Past Are Condemned to Repeat It

I remember in the late 1980’s that a US automaker executive publicly stated, “we automated our factories and now we get defects at a faster rate!” Why did he say that? Because so many leaders like he thought the technological innovation at that time would make products faster and less expensive. And it did. But it did not make always make them better. The new processes just moved defective products faster through the supply chain because they did not remove the reasons for defects prior to speeding up the processes with automation. The production experts were not experts in quality and vice-versa. So quality took a backseat, no pun intended, to the speed of production. We seem to always play catch-up.

Here we are now with great advancements in technology - Industrial Internet of Things, Augmented Reality, Blockchain and other so-called Industry 4.0 technologies. Undoubtedly, they will speed decision making and bring benefits to customers. However, we need to do it right this time. Production and process engineers need to develop self-controlling processes capable of meeting “quality” requirements faster, cheaper and yes, better than ever before.

While Industry 4.0 technologies will make products cheaper and employees more productive - the quality, production and supply chain professionals will need to make sure our manufacturing colleagues understand how to create a unified quality management system with the production and supply chain processes. This is where I believe Manufacturing Apps, especially Self-Serve ones such as those enabled by Tulip, can really make a difference.

This new generation of digital QMS must be more effective and efficient if we are to assure products are of the highest quality. We must emphasize being effective and efficient. This must be the mantra. Getting this backwards moves defects faster. Are we going to make the same mistakes of the past? Or will our organizations and quality profession going to digitize the right methods in the right way? In the words for George Santayana, those who fail to look at the past are condemned to repeat it.

Many of today’s business leaders were not here in the 1980’s but with insight and understanding on how Manufacturing Apps can unify with Quality 4.0 we can make this revolution in manufacturing as great a revolution as Taylor did to automobile manufacturing.

This is the first of a series of posts by Dr. Joseph A. DeFeo, Chairman and CEO of Juran. Recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on transformational change and breakthrough quality management, Dr. DeFeo has written numerous popular texts on quality, including the 7th Edition of Juran’s Quality Handbook, The Complete Guide to Performance Excellence; the “go to” resource for quality management and performance improvement leaders, co-authored with Dr. Joseph M. Juran.

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