Going Beyond the Traditional Quality Function

I spent a couple of days last week in Washington  D.C. at a forum of a new organization called the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition. I must say the Coalition  had assembled a remarkable group of interests from manufacturing, government, research, academia, and associations.

The Coalition explains its goal as such: “A new era of 21st century smart manufacturing will optimize plants and supply networks by starting to transform them into profit centers. Progressive businesses have already begun gathering information and manufacturing intelligence by investing in highly automated and IT-driven production. This manufacturing intelligence enables the factory floor to become a profitable innovation center.”

In the group’s dialogue, quality came up repeatedly.  More specifically the talents, and skills, of the quality profession – workflow, systems, processes, metrics, cycle time reduction, supplier management, change management, and more.  My thought was that sure,  the quality profession brings a lot to the table.

My question is, how well understood and embraced are the contributions of the quality professional beyond what is traditionally thought of as the quality function?  My hope is that use of quality is widespread; my fear is that it is not.

I welcome your insights, your experience, and your thoughts on how to increase the value of quality in organizations beyond what is traditionally thought of as the quality function.

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