Quality is so important internationally that a number of quality standards have been developed. Leaders in the quality area are Japan, United States and the European Community (EC).
The Japanese specification for quality management is published as Industrial Standard Z 8101-1981. The standard states.
“Implementing quality control effectively necessitates the cooperation of all people in the company, involving top management, managers, supervisors, and workers in all areas of corporate activities such as market research, research and development, product planning, design, preparation for production, inspection, sales and after services as well as financial control, personnel administration, and training and education.”
Japanese industries, by strictly following the set quality standards, have established themselves as quality leaders and Japanese products from automobiles to electronics are highly respected for their quality, reliability and durability.
The American Quality Control Society has developed a list of quality specifications coded as Q 90, Q 91, Q 92, Q 93 and Q 94.
Q 90 provides an overview and introduction to the other standards, definitions and concepts related to quality.
Q 91 is the general standard for design, development, manufacturing, installation and servicing of products and services.
Q 92 is more detailed and sets standards for organizations specifically involved in production, installation and servicing of products and services.
Q 93 deals with organizations specifically involved in inspection and tests.
Q 94 provides guidelines for managing and auditing a quality control system.
The competition for quality is so intense and the international implications of quality so important that an award for quality achievement was established in the United States in 1988 and was named the “Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.”
ISO 9000 refers to the quality standards established by the International Standards Organization (ISO). The standards are generic in nature and can be applied in all industries. It is a set of five worldwide standards that establish requirements for the management of quality.
Unlike product standards, the ISO standards are for “quality management systems.” These standards are being used by the twelve-nation European Economic Community (EEC) to provide a universal frame work for quality assurance primarily through a system of internal and external audits.
In order to compete in European countries, foreign companies must meet these standards. The government bids in these countries require that companies can bid only if they have ISO 9000 certification. The quality standards are so stringent that as of 1992, only twelve U.S. based firms had achieved such certification.
The standards as prescribed by the International Standards Organization are dynamic in nature and are continuously evolving towards higher quality standards. These have already been revised in 1994 and more and more functions are being included in its scope and it takes the organizations with it in raising the international standards.
The ISO-9000 series consists of five sets of standards numbered sequentially from 9000 to 9004. A brief summary of each standard is explained as follows:
i. ISO 9000. It applies to all industries including software development and basically provides definitions and concepts and explains how to select other standards for a given business.
ii. ISO-9001. It ensures conformance to requirements during design, development, production, installation and service. It is primarily applicable to engineering and construction firms as well as such manufacturing firms that design, develop, install and service products.
iii. ISO 9002. It sets standards- in the area of quality assurance in production and installation. Some of the companies that would require conformance to ISO 9002 standards are those in the chemical process industries that are not involved in product design or after- sales service.
iv. ISO 9003. It covers companies engaged in final inspection and testing, such as small shops, divisions within a firm and equipment distributors that inspect and test products that they supply.
v. ISO-9004. It provides specific guidelines for the application of the elements of the quality management system and it applies to all industries.
ISO 9000 certification has many advantages which are gained by improving quality in products and services in this highly competitive world. Furthermore, such a certification provides the additional benefit of acceptance by European Community customers as well as improves the image and the credibility of the organizations who have received such certification.