Two aspects of quality


According to Terry Hill, the concept of quality concerns how well and for how long a product / service meets the requirements of the customer. There are, thus, two aspects of quality –product / service design and the operating system that makes the product or provides the service. A functional definition of quality leads us to consider two aspects which contribute to the ultimate quality of the product. The intrinsic quality intended in the design is the first aspect, while the degree to which this quality is achieved in production is the second aspect. The first is called quality of design, and the second, quality of conformance. The degree of excellence of the design as related to the customer’s requirement is called quality of design. The measure of fidelity with which the product is taken at the point of acceptance confirms to the design is called the quality of conformance.

Now, the quality of a product is closely related to the quality of design as well as the quality of conformance. Some of the quality characteristics (properties or specifications) are acquired by a product at the design and development stage. Properties acquired by a product at this stage depend on the type of material used, tolerances specified, method of production or type of process used, safety factors allowed, knowledge and skill of the design, personnel employed etc.
Quality of design refers to these specifications or properties which are acquired at the design and development stage. To provide a customer with a good quality product or service, quality of design is a fundamental prerequisite. Once the designer has produced a design which successfully defines product for the market, the production function has the job to produce it according to specifications. The success with which this is achieved is called quality of conformance. A finished product or service must meet the design specifications or say, must conform to the quality of design, if a manufacturer is aware of customers’ satisfaction. It means that the quality of design must be maintained when the actual finished product is ready or service is given. Quality of conformance refers to this part i.e. maintenance of the quality of design.

Customers, like defense department, space research organizations, auto-vehicles’ manufacturers, other users of sophisticated electronic equipment etc. give much importance to those manufacturers or suppliers, who can maintain quality standards and who ensure minimization of the chances of poor quality of defective products. Past performance of the manufacturers or suppliers is also considered. One can easily predict the result of the failure of a batch of warplanes employed for bombarding the enemy positions or the failure of a batch of tanks on the battleground. It is in the interest of a manufacturer or a supplier to supply or services of a good quality, if he or she wants to maintain or create goodwill for the firm. If a manufacturer or a supplier wants to minimize the number of complaints of poor quality or sub-standards products or services, he or she must become quality conscious. Manufacturers can better understand the importance of quality because they also purchase many items for their use.

Howsoever successful the production is in achieving quality of conformance, it cannot go beyond the quality laid down by the design. The production achieves quality that is a balance between their capability and the requirement of design. Design itself should consider the type of manpower available and the equipment used. If design is blind to these aspects, the quality of conformance is likely to drop. Quality is a collaborative effort of the designer and the production engineer.
The customer is now giving utmost importance to quality before even the price or manufacturer’s reputation. This is more so with consumer goods of all types namely, garments, white goods and even high value jewellery. Without quality no company can survive.