Quality circle is a small group of employees from the same work area who voluntary participate in identifying, analyzing, finding and suggesting solutions to work related problems. These are considered by the management and all feasible suggestions are implemented by the circle members.
This is basically a collective from through which the hidden talent of individuals can be manifested. The key word in Quality Circle Tram work. It fosters team spirit among the members. The members are chosen from the dame work area because they have common experience to share. The members interact with each other, understand each other, share their experience and in the process enrich their knowledge and improve their performance so as to counter any problem. The emphasis is on “problem solving”. IN short, Quality Circle is nothing but “Collective problem solving through voluntary participation”. Individual decisions are often hasty and may not cover all facts of the problem. but in Quality Circle, collective knowledge and wisdom are pooled. In the course of discussions, many ideas are generated. Feasible and implemental ideas are chosen and translated into action by group members themselves. Since the idea is not imposed from the top or by an outsider, therefore the acceptability is in-built in this process.
Is it a new concept?
Concept wise it’s not something radical or totally new. This is in consonance with our democratic tradition. This has been in existence in India for more than 100 years. Our Panchayat system in villages or the joint family system are also media for problem solving in a collective manner. When the same concept with some refinement / fine turning was applied in industrial climate in Japan, it was given a new name – quality Circle”. there fore in the industrial context, it was essentially an Japanese concept.
Are QCs and SIGs same or different?
Initially, when the Quality Circle movement started in Japan, problems relating to product quality only where undertaken. Later on, it was realized that the same approach could be adopted for all sorts of problems and the scope of QC was broadened to cover the entire gamut of industrial problems. A new phrase was coined for Q C and this new nomenclature is “Shop Improvement Group” (SIG). Many industries adopted this new name “Shop Improvement Group” to reflect that improvement can be carried out on any facet of industrial operation. Therefore, QCs and SIGs are basically one and the same. We shall henceforth use the terms Quality Circle / Shop Improvement Group as being synonymous.
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Common misconception about Quality circles and Shop Improvement Groups. What QCs / SIGs are not:
· Task forces (Which are specific problem oriented and disbanded soon after the problem is solved).
· Joint Plant Councils (JPC) / Works Committees (which are for organization’s problems.)
· Quality Assurance or Quality Control (generally refer to Process Control or Statistical Quality Control).
· Suggestion Scheme (which are generally for individual suggestions)
PHILOSOPHY BEHEND QC / SIG:
Group Formation, Group-size:
Group formation is through voluntary participation. Employees from the same area of work should be the members of any particular group because they have common experience to share.
The size of the group should be limited to five to ten members which may include one or two frontline executive at the level of Jr. Manager or new entrant like MTT or MTA. Group should consists of those who are regularly associated with the particular work. Group members should consist of those who are regularly associated with the particular work. Group members should meet periodically (say once in a week / fortnight) and discuss the problem for about half an hour. They should analyze the causes, recommend feasible solutions and then implement the solutions after due approval by the management. The decisions of the group are based on logical outcome of the discussion rather than imagination or by chance. The group can meet within duty hours, beyond duty hours or partly in duty hours and partly beyond duty hours depending upon the conditions prevailing at a particular shop / department
Structure and functioning of QCs / SIGs:
Following are the basic elements of QC SIG structure:
· Top Management
· Approving Authority
· Leader or Co-ordinator
· Co-ordinating Agency / Department
Members of QC / SIG are a small group of persons from the same work are or doing similar type of work, who voluntarily from a QC /SIG. Once a QC/SIG is formed, they remain as permanent members, unless they leave the work area for good.
Broadly speaking, almost all the activities of industrial operation can be covered by Quality Circle except for the problems involving technological development, basic design and process changes.
Functions of members
6. To conduct training / Workshop on QC for leaders and facilitators.
7. To conduct workshop for the group members.
8. To provide display boards of QCs/SIGs in the shops / areas where they are functioning.
9. To familiarize the employees of various executive / non-executive levels with the concept of QC/SIG through lectures and audiovisual aids.
10. To felicitate the group members, co-ordinators, facilitators and approving authorities of implemented QC projects with certificates and token gift in the QC recognition function held annually. This is done with a view to appreciate the good job done by them.
TYPES OF PROBLEMS QCs / SIGs CAN UNDERTAKE:
QC movement in Japan initially dealt with problems relating to product quality only. But later on, its ambit was enlarged to cover a wide variety of problems. The problems can be basically aimed towards improvement in work life / work environment / work culture of the employees.
They can be further categorized under the following heads:
Improving in safety and housekeeping.
Labour saving and work intensity reduction.
Process and Quality Improvement.
Productivity and yield improvement.
Equipments life Improvement.
Reduction of machine downtime stoppages.
Waste utilization and cost reduction.