Heaphy, Maureen S. (1989, ASQC) The Transformation Network, Inc., West Bloomfield, MI
The American buyers have become more aware and critical in their purchasing decisions. Industry and service organizations, in response, have become forced to change the way they do business if they want to stay in business.
The objectives of successful companies are led by customer satisfaction and continuous improvement. At the operational level, the emphasis is changing from detection to prevention, and from a tolerance orientation to a target dimensioning philosophy. The old saying of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" no longer applied. If we wait for problems to occur before we take action, we will not be world class leaders. Also, meeting the blueprint tolerance is no longer sufficient; reduced variation around a target value is now required.
A necessary part of the change of American management is the integration of continuous improvement into every day operating activities. The need for, and the key elements of this transformation strategy are contained in the teachings of Dr. W. Edwards Deming.
The impact of a philosophy based on continuous improvement is noted in the automotive new supplier requirements. General Motors issued Targets for Excellence in September 1987. This replaces the previous SPEAR (Supplier Performance Evaluation and Reporting) quality audit with a full business assessment of management, quality, cost, delivery and technology. The umbrella over all of the requirements is continuous improvement; that is, everything can be improved no matter how "good" it is today. Continuous improvement is viewed as a customer driven process that allows everyone in the organization to contribute to reduced variation and the elimination of wasted efforts.
The new Ford requirements, called Total Quality Excellence, are also based on the idea of continuous improvement. "Sustained quality excellence requires continuous process improvement. This means that regardless of how good present performance may be, it can become even better." Notice that the focus is on the process. Sources of variation in the process must be identified and eliminated or controlled.
The new supplier requirements are not a repackaging of the old. A major change in American style of management is required to regain the competitive position. The importance of continuous improvement in all areas of business is stated loud and clear in the new automotive supplier requirements. This paper will address these new automotive supplier requirements which are based on continuous improvement.