When you become a parent the world immediately changes. It’s as if you leave the hospital with new senses that take in all the potential hazards around you.
I first experienced this when my husband and I strapped our one-day old baby into his clunky car seat to make the drive home from the hospital. The 40-minute ride was surreal. Cars zipped by oblivious of the new little baby swaddled and tiny in the car seat designed to protect his life, but I could feel the power and potential hazard of each steel machine around us. That’s when I became a skeptical consumer.
The world had not changed, but I had. Never again could I ignore news of accidents due to failed parts, product recalls, and other issues due to poor quality. In fact, I am more tuned into product quality and reliability than ever—and I am not the only one.
Today, consumers of products big and small, retail and B2B, all around the world independently use product comparison studies, peer reviews, corporate data and analyst reports to make the best purchase decisions. Just yesterday, a report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that half of children’s car booster seats do not fit properly with safety belts. And news travels fast when product safety goes awry.
Manufacturers are well aware of customer’s expectations and concerns. The challenge of winning market share, meeting financial goals and a dizzying array of local quality, reliability and regulatory standards is constant.
To meet these demands, a whole new field of professionals and technologies has evolved to help manufacturers focus on these growing requirements. Some belong to such organizations as the American Society for Quality, or ASQ.
I learned about ASQ when I came across “Four Questions: Creating a Culture of Quality,” where ASQ CEO, Paul Borawski, interviews Dr. J.J. Irani, the former managing director of India-based Tata Steel. During the interview, Irani shared insights on how Tata has created a culture of quality throughout its organization. He stresses the importance of top-down commitment to quality from upper management.
Commitment is one thing, implementing the right processes and technology to support quality and risk management goals is another. When looking at processes manufacturers can implement, there is FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis), which prioritizes part or system failures and determines whether risk-control measures are adequate to insure product safety and reliability. There is also FRACAS (Failure Reporting, Analysis, and Corrective Action System) to record product failures, which traces them back to root causes, and closes the gap between field failures and improved designs of the next generation.
These are just two out of a number of best practices experts recommend to reduce risk and increase customer safety and satisfaction. This is reassuring to a discriminating consumer who has used hundreds of products in the process of raising my now four-year-old child.
What are some of the best practices your company employs in its approach to safety, reliability and risk management?
If you liked this story, read more about best-practices in quality, risk and reliability management.