Winchell, William; Chugh, Navin (1989, ASQC) Alfred University, Alfred, NY
An expert system for generic quality improvement is attractive because improving quality in an organization is up to all the employees. To meet the challenge for the nineties for continuous improvement, methods for improvement need to be widely understood. But, the expertise for successful quality improvement is largely gained through years of industrial experience. For many companies, this skill is likely limited to a few people in the organization. An expert system for generic quality improvement would help increase the availability of successful methods, used by few experts, to everyone in an organization. Expert systems are a subset of artificial intelligence. This technology allows computer systems to incorporate human knowledge and reasoning abilities. Expert systems serve as intelligent support tools for human decision makers. In the quality field, current expert systems are for very specific tasks such as evaluating the quality of software. Other fields have also seen applications of expert system such as diagnosing machine breakdowns. There are no known applications of expert systems for generic quality improvement. An expert system for a generic quality improvement process, using the methods of an expert in improving quality, is likely to result in more effective results by those not so skilled. This paper describes the development of a prototype expert system for this application by Alfred University. The objective of the prototype system was to determine the feasibility of such an application. The prototype system incorporates the methods used in quality improvement by a known expert in this area. The program was setup using a personal computer to enhance its portability to various locations. Also included in this paper is a critique of the prototype system and future plans for developing the technology for industrial application.