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Quality Control Is Lacking

April 28, 1985

Regarding "New Approach Would Get Us Back in Game" (John F. Lawrence, March 3), in my experience as a federal inspector I have observed the workings of companies both small and large, and in a wide variety of industries. My observations support the points raised in the article. However, one area that might have been mentioned in analyzing American industry's ills is the absence, or under-utilization, of quality control.

Much of the statistics pertaining to the control of manufacturing operations was developed during the 1940s to support the war effort. Once the war was over, quality practitioners discovered that American business leaders weren't really interested in the techniques that had helped to assure accurate munitions and reliable weapons.

The Japanese, however, with their postwar industrial capacity in shambles, welcomed American quality-control experts. The irony now is that the Japanese people consider American products attractive but unreliable, while the value-conscious American consumer fills his home with products of foreign manufacture.

Modern quality control still utilizes many simple, time-honored statistical techniques, preferably performed by the production worker himself rather than by a checker from the inspection department. But the focus today is on management and its quality responsibilities.

The quality technology is in place. Whether American industry will wake up remains to be seen.

GARY M. GLENN

Virginia Beach, Va.

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