Quality practices of manufacturers vary in slumping economy

Many manufacturing companies are not in the crisis mode that might be expected in today’s economy, according to the American Society for Quality (ASQ), which has issued the ASQ Quarterly Quality Report reporting insights gained from its members, practicing quality professionals. Feedback revealed some of the pain companies are going through, such as reductions in training and workforces, ...
By Control Engineering Staff March 1, 2009

Many manufacturing companies are not in the crisis mode that might be expected in today’s economy, according to the American Society for Quality (ASQ), which has issued the ASQ Quarterly Quality Report reporting insights gained from its members, practicing quality professionals. Feedback revealed some of the pain companies are going through, such as reductions in training and workforces, as well as budget cutbacks for quality initiatives.

Overall, many feel their companies and management are looking forward and using quality for long-term strategies, ASQ says. That includes investments and effective system integration of automation, controls, instrumentation, software, and networks, as well as methods that examine how to avoid making errors in the first place.

The most recent ASQ results displayed two types of organizations reacting in different ways to economic conditions. While some are going into crisis mode, cutting back and de-emphasizing quality initiatives, others continue to invest in quality and innovation as a competitive advantage during economic uncertainty, ASQ says.

Those members who felt their organization’s viability is different today than a year ago and attributed it to the deteriorating economy were the ones who were more likely to report reductions in workforce and training, and overall culture changes to business improvement where they work. Many stepped back from quality initiatives typically used to cut costs.

In the middle are organizations attempting to balance efficiency with innovation and growth. Members said that waste reduction and increased efficiency are receiving considerable attention as are efforts to generate inspiration and new ideas. Members report listening to the voice of the customer and becoming more engaged in programs to bolster innovation and creativity, which, along with quality initiatives, are perceived as key for organizations looking for continued growth.

www.asq.org