The aim of any organization is to produce quality products and services. In today’s competitive environment, quality is a requirement that customers expect. Quality function deployment (QFD) is a critical aspect of the quality control policy of an organization. It is a process for translating customer requirements into manufacturing standards. QFD is used for new product development. It is very powerful as it incorporates customer needs into the design parameters so the final product will be better designed to meet customer expectations.
Features of QFD
The basis of QFD is customer requirements. The customer's requirements dictate various business functions like production, manufacturing marketing and sales. The essence of QFD is first to break down the product into parameters that will be viewed by potential customers as most beneficial, influencing them to purchase. Attention is paid to the quality cues, that is, those features of the product that communicate its overall level of quality. These quality cues are incorporated as very precise engineering standards that provide measurements for implementing and monitoring the manufacturing process.
A Customer-driven Process
The main advantage of QFD is that it is a customer- and not technology-driven process. Allowing only technological innovations to dictate new product policies is not always beneficial. For instance, technology enables smaller keypads in mobile phones, making the end product more compact. However, potential phone users require a certain level of keypad size to be able to use their phone effectively. QFD helps you determine exactly what your customer wants and how this input can be used in new product development.
Important Planning Tool
QFD is an important planning tool for introducing new products. With QFD, the final product requirements are already in place, so an engineering team works backward to incorporate technical specifications in the design. This is product planning. The next step is process planning, which identifies the processes needed to get a desired end result. Finally, QFD helps in production planning, which sets up process control and maintenance plans.
Improves Production Efficiency
QFD dictates product design and manufacturing standards from the concept stage. Because you know your final product characteristics, you can check whether production is proceeding along the right lines using intermittent reviews. You can address any problems at an early stage of production, dramatically enhancing your production efficiency. A natural outcome of increased efficiency is a reduction in overall cost that can be passed on to the customer.
Effective QFD requires teamwork across organizational functions. First, a marketing and sales team finds out through market research the key features customers expect in new products. This information helps an engineering team produce the technical designs. Production takes over and the final product comes into shape. Now a marketing team communicates the product's features to customers using advertising and promotion. QFD ensures that your organization's teams work together by focusing them on the same goal.
Hailing out of Pittsburgh, Pa., David Stewart has been writing articles since 2004, specializing in consumer-oriented pieces. He holds an associate degree in specialized technology from the Pittsburgh Technical Institute.