In the manufacturing industry it is commonly stated that “Quality drives productivity.” Improved productivity is a source of greater revenues, employment opportunities and technological advances. However, this has not been the case historically, and in the early 19th century it was recognized that some markets, such as those in Asia, preferred cheaper products to those of quality. Most discussions of quality refer to a finished part, wherever it is in the process. Inspection, which is what quality insurance usually means, is historical, since the work is done. The best way to think about quality is in process control. If the process is under control, inspection is not necessary.

However, there is one characteristic of modern quality that is universal. In the past, when we tried to improve quality, typically defined as producing fewer defective parts, we did so at the expense of increased cost, increased task time, longer cycle time, etc. We could not get fewer defective parts and lower cost and shorter cycle times, and so on. However, when modern quality techniques are applied correctly to business, engineering, manufacturing or assembly processes, all aspects of quality – customer satisfaction and fewer defects/errors and cycle time and task time/productivity and total cost, etc.- must all improve or, if one of these aspects does not improve, it must at least stay stable and not decline. So modern quality has the characteristic that it creates AND-based benefits, not OR-based benefits.

Quality, especially in manufacturing and diverse industries, is regulated, tested, and certified. Diverse methods, models and standards are provided to test the quality. For instance, the Fitness For Use (FFU), concept introduced to help test the quality of various types of electrical and electronic equipment, including household appliances and video/audio equipment. All types of equipment are manufactured in accordance to relevant standards, including performance testing requirements. FFU testing means testing products to ensure their ‘fitness for purpose’; that is, to certify their quality as well as durability.

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