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Total Quality Management (TQM) Techniques

Using basic TQM techniques and the case below answer the following 2 questions:

1. Should they have lowered their spec and established a new tolerance?
2. What should they do to solve this problem

A large baker of products sold across the US began having serious problems. Although they had not changed the standards and tolerance for their most famous and widely sold product, the large batches were now routinely out of spec. The bread was to have a defined density but when measured during the process some loaves where found to be as much as 1% below spec. The tolerance was 0.05% so these loves were at variance to the established specifications.

They held a production meeting and after much argument, finally decided that perhaps the spec was too tight and moved the specification for density to 1%. Naturally this did not solve the problem and the density numbers kept growing and were now up to as much as 1.3%. Something is clearly wrong

Additional information:
Ingredients for this bread come from four different vendors.

Some of the equipment in the plant was more than 50 years old

Moves to modernize the process had always been met with great displeasure by the family/owners

They have 5 years of bread density data hiding in the production manager's office.

Four experienced new bakers had been added to production in the last four years

The bread is sourdough specialty bread that was difficult to make and had an art to making it correctly

Solution Preview

Here are some thoughts and ideas that you can then expand upon to complete these two questions.

1. Should they have lowered their spec and established a new tolerance?

I believe they should not have lowered their spec and established a new tolerance. As you will notice from the information given, after lowering the spec, the problem only got worse. Since the bread is a specialty bread, the consumers are probably purchasing it because of a specific taste/quality. By lowering the spec, the company is changing the nature of the product that it manufactures. This could definitely erode the customer base. In addition, this bread is the most famous product, so any changes in the quality of the bread could affect the company's reputation and sales of their other products as well.

In addition, by reducing the spec, the company also implies that it is acceptable to approximate the recipe and production of this bread. The mindset of the bakers should be to reproduce the product as exactly as possible each time, not to produce something that is "about the same". This appears to have been the existing mindset already, so when the spec was reduced further, the bakers just lowered their standards and aimed for a lesser goal. In addition, the bakers had to work with old equipment, an outdated process, inconsistent ingredients, and the recent addition of new bakers who may not have been as ...