Why can quality be controlled when people are not cheaper, and market conditions shift even more quickly?
The degree to which something meets or exceeds consumers ‘ expectations is the most accepted of all quality definitions. The definition is good but from the point of view of customers. How can we define it from the perspective of manufacturers? Quality can be defined as specification compliance. The degree to which a product meets the design requirements or a deficiency-free product is called a quality product. It is like defining a product as the sum of its specifications and/or possible defects.
Quality is just as good as health. The absence of diseases is not what we define as health. It’s all about goodness. The harmony between body, mind, and soul is a thing of the past. Quality, likewise, does not mean the absence of shortcomings but the degree to which all stakeholders cooperated in the production of the product. Creating all means from design to delivery. This definition change changes everything.
Since we consider quality to be a sum of specifications or lack of defects, quality has been reduced to a list of specifications and defects. The manufacturers, therefore, mold their processes to comply with the requirements and avoid deficiencies. In every production stage, we began to check for weed defects or check the process to minimize defects or deviations. So we had enormous manuals of quality. A buyer or brand with the most detailed handbook was considered the most high-quality buyer. Does a detailed manual and the following requirement have anything wrong? Not at all! However, this is not restricted to quality, and the manual itself may not result in the quality desired.
We are talking about how to shape ourselves to react to this dynamic market. Before I get to this point, I need to understand how we get to where we are with clothing management and what suddenly looks outdated and dysfunctional when considered an acceptable way of handling quality.
The dynamics of the market are changing quickly. For the past 100 years, it has been brick and mortar (B&M). Online business knocked our door ten years ago, and now we concentrate on a retailing omnibus. If we take B&M stores into account, quality control measures, including performance tests, a four-point fabric system, an acceptable process, and an end-of-state inspection quality limit (AQL), are sufficient. 2.5 percent of defective parts were theoretically acceptable (assuming AQL 2.5) in lots. Before making a purchase decision, the client touched, felt, and tried the product. Hence there were fewer returns. And the cost was accounted for by 2,5 percent of defective items. It lasted a long time. However, we have seen now with the online trade that customer returns are 20%. The biggest concern when it comes to online business is a high customer return. For a toss, logistics go. Removal, repackaging, and ready for the sale of the returned clothes. If the return is because of a quality defect, the cost impact is even greater. Now quality costs for retailers are much more expensive, not only regarding money but also loss of future client credibility and loss of market value.
All major brands and retailers in India adjust quality evaluation manuals circulated by international brands with a minor change here. There are practices for the quality management of apparel. The handbooks were a remote quality control tool. The brands were in the developed countries and third-world manufacturers. The human resources of these countries were considered cheap, which led to the loading of manuals at various production stages with inspections and audits. Once, after every operation, there was a checkpoint, I visited a production floor in Bangladesh. Does this work logically? Unfortunately, a diluted version of this routine remains an acceptable method of quality management.
Therefore, the major question is how we can manage quality if human resources do not change at a much faster rate and the dynamics of the market? I will bring you back to the proposed quality definition at this point. I will focus on manufacturers from all stakeholders. I also explained earlier that existing quality control tools can only, to some degree, help us. So what can a holistic quality management approach be?
To ensure sustainable quality, I propose new parameters in which brands need to invest. Although these parameters may not be directly related to our knowledge of quality control, they will go a long way to ensure sustainable quality.
(1) Reduce the time of the performance. (2) People’s investment. (3) First Right Culture Development (RTF) culture. (4) Ensure the manufacturer’s profitability. We can call them RIDE collectively.
• Reduction in throughput time: Time is the key parameter known as the “business adviser,” and author Jeff Cox is family defined by Eliyahu M Goldratt in his novel The Goal. In other words, the time between investments is the time to realize the payment. The smaller, the better. Managing throughput time ultimately leads to an effective understanding of the project assessment and examination technique or the key path method (PERT / CPM) for planning, productivity, management of the work in progress ( WIP), and reduction of value-added activities. These activities are related to product quality directly or indirectly. Since this is a key performance indicator, it is also directly linked to profitability.
For a brand, it should be critically considered that its manufacturer’s throughput times contribute to timely distribution that is crucial for any retailer. It is necessary to remember that good times lead to delivery on time. Simultaneously, output on time can not automatically result in sufficient transmission time. Therefore, we will collaborate with suppliers to increase their average performance and not only deliver on time. We know exactly the strategies an organization should use to reach the deadline for delivery, from illegal subcontracting to a few critical processes that inevitably became a big issue of quality. There is, therefore, no option to concentrate on reducing processing time.
• Investment in human resources: Quality in any factory is closely linked to workers. It is important to have a committed pool of people. I think that a worker’s dedication and sense of belonging are more important than his skills. Yet from where does this undertaking come? The undertaking is always mutual. An employee has the same commitment to the organization that the latter. Paying salaries at a good time is not an undertaking. An agency is committed to the wellbeing of its workers, whether it be their health or safety in the workplace. Yet, it is equally relevant to what is not hidden. Workers require experience and preparation. They need information and learning sessions to manage relationships, personal finances, and education for their children. It would take time to make the company dedicated.
It is not enough just to provide travel, shared accommodation, and pay in time. Why can we guarantee a worker’s dedication who works at a wage, has his family in some remote area, and stays unhygienically in a dormitory with ten others? Think of his partnership with a worker living with his family who can think of a long-term company relationship and who can support the government’s social security covers in the company. This was just to explain how better engagement appears when the better quality of life. I don’t expect a manufacturer to commit all of this. I mean to help him if we explore his goals more closely and seek to figure out what they are and do this. In this case, the commitment is strengthened and lasting. Satisfied workplace participation leads to less absenteeism, lower employee turnover, and a higher degree of productivity concentration.
• Develop right-first-time (RFT) culture: Under this heading, I want to include all quality assurance (QA) activities, including raw material quality management, performance monitoring and audits, and inspections at different production stages. The factory needs to test this accordingly. It is necessary to ensure that everybody is protected and that there is no overlap at the same time.
• Ensure profitability and business continuity: Profitability and business sustainability are an outcome of the previous three-wide points rather than success measures. I am also debating this separately, as I believe the manufacturer or seller will be responsible for business continuity and profitability. The competitiveness of producers can not afford to be insensitive. Unless the producer is not lucrative and market stability is not assured, the output will certainly be affected. To ensure this, a company will go the extra mile. This could not only persuade a rock lower price maker in every type and salute it as a breakthrough. It is not sustainable, and nothing unsustainable does not generate efficiency. If price restrictions exist, the brand must deepen, enable the manufacturer to manage cost, increase performance, and ensure that the manufacturer benefits even at this restricted price. Continuity of operation helps producers manage capital which results in decreased cost and efficiency.
There is now a question about the role of a retailer’s QA staff. The position will certainly be greater than what it is today. Nevertheless, they must be retrained. We must be qualified in PERT / CPM, which describes a department/unit performance metric, production / industrial technology management, cost efficiency, and social issues for the workforce. Only then will they be able to support the plant in all the above ways.
Nearly anything involved in the production and distribution of a commodity affects the price. Price. We have to look at it holistically. Vision, awareness, empathy, and consciousness are needed. We should construct a system of ecosystems that can deliver quality independently of changing markets and all stakeholders associated with it. I’m positive that ‘RIDE’ will benefit us all through all the industry competitive challenges.