Barker, Thomas B. (1988, ASQC) Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY
Competition, especially competition from foreign countries, is becoming tougher and tougher. While many economists have blamed the inflated U.S. dollar for the gross imbalance of trade that has made our country a virtual "colony" of Japan, quality engineering experts contend that while the high dollar allowed the goods to enter the country, it is the superior quality that has kept them here.
While Quality is an elusive "catch-all" that covers conformance to customer requirements, as well as the necessary features to attract the customer, it is a difficult attribute of the product to capture in hard, technical specifications. It is the technical aspects of competitive quality that we shall address in this paper.
The basic approach will be to let our competition do some of the research into product quality for us! In a multi-company competitive market, all products will not utilize the same technology, and if they emerge through their formal competitive analysis functions. These functions should include patent literature searches, trade show intelligence gathering, as well as complete disassembly of competitors' products are also tested for performance.
We will look at a way to take a mass of performance test results and draw conclusions about the product technology's influence on quality. We will also observe when there are unexpected deviations from a general "trend", that a message from the particular application of that technology is being sent to us that should be investigated. If this deviation is in a positive direction, it should be integrated into our own product design. If it is a trend in a negative direction, it should be avoided.
The statistical technique of multiple regression utilizing coded dummy factors to investigate qualitative attributes will be explained and reviewed in detail. An example of the benchmarking method will illustrate its inner workings.