Mayhew, Emily A. (1986, ASQC) Babcock & Wilcox, Lynchburg, VA
American industry is changing. World-wide competition has forced us to reexamine our operating philosophies - and to change - in order to survive and prosper. We must create an environment in which change for the better is encouraged and "doing it right the first time" is a fact.A few years ago, you couldn't open a newspaper or business periodical without reading that American innovation was fast following the route of the dinosaur toward inevitable extinction. Indeed, for a while, United States industry lost sight of the true aim of quality assurance. Unlike the Japanese, who dedicated themselves to engineering quality into basic designs, we in the U.S. attempted to inspect quality into our products.However, revival of the American "spirit" in the past few years has proved the media wrong, dead wrong. This is primarily due to a renewed sense that America is achieving excellence through quality and that America is still the most fertile breeding ground for new ideas and new technologies.Babcock & Wilcox, a major supplier in the nuclear industry, has significantly minimized its costs and enhanced its technological leadership through quality design practices.Traditionally, quality efforts concentrated on finding nonconformities after a product had been produced. However, as quality becomes the universal equation for excellence, detection is being replaced by prevention. The old adage, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," becomes extremely important as we think of minimizing costs through effective design. When quality is designed into a product, it is much easier and less costly to build quality in at each stage.To gain a competitive advantage in the future, American industry must establish a definition of quality that surpasses the traditional "conformance to requirements" and reaches the "real quality of the product as customers perceive it." Quality must satisfy the needs and expectations of the customer, for the customer is still king. Any concept of quality management that is not oriented to customer satisfaction is not adequate for the real needs of industry today. The quality, however, must reflect competitive costs and the customer's perception of his quality needs.Basic to minimizing quality costs is the well-known phrase, "do it right the first time." Putting those six little words into practice requires a major design effort. The very concept of controlling quality costs teaches that it is less expensive to make a quality product through correct design and process control than to sort good from bad in the finished product. Thus, the ultimate goal is to minimize cost and improve quality through design.