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    Interested in getting detailed answers to a a Japanese TSC based case study? Searching for solution here? no worries, on this Ask Expert page you can go through the advice provided by experts and resolve your query about the case study.

    In 1974, a division of Motorola was acquired by Matsushita Electric Industrial Company. It employed 1200 people in Franklin Park to produce colour television receivers and microwave ovens. Five years after the change-over, in-process defects had dropped from 1-4 to 0-07 defects per set and productivity had jumped almost 30 percent. The labour required to produce a colour television receiver was cut in half. These gains were achieved by blending new equipment, technology, training and managerial practices to revitalise an already skilled labour force.
    Equipment : Automatic equipment developed in Japan for Chassis assembly was used. Design changes reduced the number of required workers by 26 percent. Equipment and design engineers worked together to improve "producibility" making quality products easier to manufacture.
    Technology : New assembly lines allowed workers to control their work flow individually. In place of a continuous, conveyor paced line, operators were given foot levers to detour work to their station and to forward finished pieces to the next work stations. Closed-circuit television systems were installed to broadcast quality information to workers on the production line.
    Training : The importance of quality was continually emphasised, placing responsibility on production workers, not inspectors. End-product inspection teams were replaced by a few in-process inspectors who moved from one assembly line to another carrying out sampling inspection. New employees are trained both in the class-room and on-the-job, upto 5 days of each, during which they learn about quality expectations, are judged on whether they can do the work adequately and see whether they like the work conditions.
    Managerial practice : Once a week all work stops for 10 to 15 minutes while supervisors communicate with their subordinates. A supervisor typically communicates with 45 workers about quality, productivity, absenteeism, scrap and any other subjects that might come up. If the supervisors cannot answer a question, they make a note of it and come prepared with an answer in the next meeting.
    Every six months, manufacturing and quality control people meet to set quality goals for different areas. Bar charts are kept to signal which areas are above, near or below their targets. Special effort is concentrated on a particular production line, called the model line, to improve its performance. Workers on that line and support groups meet once a week to explore progress. Reasons for successes in the model line are identified and adapted to fit other lines.
    A quality emphasis month is declared twice a year. Awareness is aroused by slogan and posters competitions, crossword puzzles with quality terms and suggestion contests. Winners are entertained at a felicitation party and given a modest reward.
    The underlying purpose of all activities is to create an environment that will be conducive to cooperation and encouraging people to work together to identify problems and offer suggestions to solve them.
    Questions : ^
    (a) Discuss the relative contribution to quality improvement of the engineering/technology investments with the human resource management changes made at the Motorola plant.
    (b) Quality control circles were not established at the plant by the Matsushita company. Suggest reasons that circles were not used, even though they enjoy great success in Japan.
  • Answers

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    Technological developments are always the key to maintaining quality. When we design a product we should take care of all the design factors where there are chances to make a mistake which will affect the quality of the product and proper care should be taken in avoiding such mistakes by doing the development in the technology. But after making all these developments also without human interface one can't manage the production and quality maintenance. Hence a proper training and information sharing with the people involved in the production is the key to maintain quality in the product. These are not the days of quality control but these are the days of quality assurance. Quality can't be checked that is to be built in. Human Resources Management Department has a big role to maintain in TQM. Identifying the training needs of the people and providing them with the required assistance in getting that training by them. Again getting updated with the information available outside is also very important so that the technology developed will always be getting updated and it will not become obsolete. The managers and Engineers should be encouraged to improve their knowledge by learning these improved skills,
    My opinion is that the HR function will contribute 60% in maintaining the quality and 40 % will come from technology and design development and modernisation and up gradation.
    2. Of late the Quality Circles are replaced by TQM and Six Sigma. Now many Japanese companies are going for TQM in which the workers are also a part. Probably this company might have used this concept instead of Quality Circles. Quality Circles are more useful for maintaining the quality in the existing system of operation. QCs will be successful when they have a lot of experience in the system they are working.

    always confident

  • This is an interesting case study. Matsushita Electric Industrial Company of Japan had acquired a division of Motorola in US and wanted to increase the productivity.

    Now, Matsushita Electric Industrial Company wanted to introduce the concept of Total Quality Management in the production of these items through a strict control on the process of manufacturing and finishing right from start to end with undertaking of corrective and learning interactive sessions in between.

    (a) With the help of new instrumentation and changed designs at places the efficiency of the system was greatly enhanced which helped in cutting the manpower significantly. The interactive sessions in between the work, right at the assembly line for corrective and quality issues had greatly helped in bringing the quality to an optimal value. So the company achieved the intended purpose of using TQM in this project.

    (b) Matsushita Electric Industrial Company had come to US and acquired a part of the Motorola. Now there are old employees which have certain experience and had a particular organisational culture imbedded in them and they are habitual of working in a particular pattern. In light of this the new company can not force them or bring change beyond a specific limit. That is the reason why the intended TQM was not applied in its totality as the company could have done if the acquisition was done in Japan itself.

    So the exemption in certain places like quality circles was as per the company policy to get best out of the present lot.

    Knowledge is power.

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