Total quality management

In layman’s terms the expression “high quality” can be equated simply to “good”. However, an organisation that is committed to high quality has “consistency to a standard” as its primary objective, complemented by “continuous improvement”.

Quality management therefore starts with a definition of the standards that have to be followed, along with a mechanism for compliance to these standards. The standards may be officially published by an industry organisation, statutory requirements for a certain kind of product, specifications by a purchaser, or self-imposed standards of the producer. Most likely, producers and service organisations will seek to comply with a combination of all these standards.

Total quality management adds the mechanisms and processes to ensure continuous improvement, using all possible sources to aid this improvement and ensuring a well-informed and methodical approach to select and enact improvement. Typically, the elements to achieve this are considered to be customer focus, employee involvement, process thinking, system integration, strategic and systematic approach, continuous process improvement, fact-based decision-making and organisational communications.

The system requirements for implementing total quality management are surprisingly close to those that are required for traceability: data gathering according to defined processes, the linkage of data from many different sources, automated interpretation of data connections with resulting actions, and the organised presentation of information to guide decision-making.

Furthermore, the quality of a final product results from quality management applied throughout the stages of production - including those of the components within the final product.  Traceability links all this together to provide a full quality history and to identify in which areas to focus to improve final quality, and FoodReg offers computerised solutions that integrate both concepts.