Quality 4.0 integrates the features from Industry 4.0 with traditional quality tools to achieve operational excellence, improved overall performance, and innovation. Quality 4.0 combines people, processes, and technologies to accomplish these goals, along with complete digitalization of quality management systems theory. Quality 4.0 is not a substitute for traditional quality tools but rather builds and improves upon them.¹
According to the American Society for Quality (ASQ), quality can have two meanings:
- The characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs.
- A product or service free of deficiencies.
The first meaning is clearly related to how good the product/service is in the eyes of the customers and the second aspect is the degree of conformance.²
Since Quality 4.0 was announced in 2011, it feels like a Sisyphean task to get quality professionals engaged with it. In a 2018 study on Quality 4.0 by the American Society for Quality and the Boston Consulting Group, only 16% of organizations surveyed have implemented Quality 4.0 initiatives, and 63% have not started planning.³ Furthermore in a study published by the World Economic Forum in “The Future of Jobs Report 2018”, a new human-machine frontier within existing tasks has already begun. In 2018, the total task hours performed by humans was 71%. That is projected to drop to 58% by 2022. This is an 18% decrease in total task hours performed by humans. In contrast, 29% of total task hours performed by machines in 2018 is projected to increase to 42% by 2022, a 49% increase.⁴ I believe these circumstances affect the slow progress with Quality 4.0.
In addition, a recent study by LNS Research revealed that a large portion of quality professionals do not understand the technologies of Industry 4.0.⁵ I have asked during local ASQ meetings and at work if people knew what Internet of Things (IoT), cloud technology, and cyber-physical systems (CPS) are, and I get blank stares back. Do you think quality professionals can lead the way with Quality 4.0? I believe we can, but we need to focus on some new ways forward.
In the Total Quality Management (TQM) Journal,⁶ several articles were analyzed for successful implementation of Quality 4.0. We recommend these guidelines:
- Handling big data
- Improving prescriptive analytics
- Effective vertical, horizontal and end to end integration through Quality 4.0
- Use Quality 4.0 for strategic advantage
- Leadership in Quality 4.0
- Training in Quality 4.0
- Organizational culture for Quality 4.0
- Top management support for Quality 4.0
ASQ has recently formed a Technical Communities Council (TCC) Committee Quality 4.0. There is an opportunity to prepare quality professionals with the skills to enable Quality 4.0 today. Some ideas:
- Outreach through social/print media, myASQ
- Quality 4.0 involvement with Quality Book of Knowledge (QBOK) peer group
- Events on Quality 4.0
- Provide industry and academia linkages for Q 4.0
- General awareness with ASQ TV, YouTube, LinkedIn, and new groups
Bottom line: If we want to move forward with Quality 4.0 activities it is imperative to study new technologies such as blockchain, IoT, CPS, AR, VR, 3D printing, nanotechnology, and gene editing, to name just a few. One valuable resource we all have available is the use of our public library. In fact, my public library gives classes on 3D printing and you can use their printers. You must also establish a good working relationship with your IT organization.
Ben Tomic, “Inspection in Quality 4.0”, Quality Magazine, July 2020.
Kal Yang, “Hyper Linked, How an ecosystem including the Internet of Things (IoT) will change product innovation and quality”, Quality Progress, August 2020.
American Society of Quality (ASQ) and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Quality 4.0 Study, 2018
World Economic Forum in “The Future of Jobs Report 2018”.
Dan Jacob, Practice director and Principal Analyst, Quality 4.0 Impact and Strategy Handbook. Getting digitally connected to transform quality management, LNS Research
Sony, M, Anthony, J and Douglas, JA (2020) Essential ingredients for the Implementation of Quality 4.0: A narrative review of literature and future directions for research. The TQM Journal. ISSN space 1754 - 2731