Quality & Reliability

Mrs. S Radha, Retd as Controller
Controllerate of Quality Assurance(Fire Fighting Equipment), Pune

1. Over the years, Quality has come a long way from being known for “Defect Reduction” to being the “Buying Standard”.

2. When our Prime Minister in his maiden Independence Day speech from Red Fort exhorted the Indian industry to adopt “Zero Defect & Zero Effect” policy – Quality Management & Environmental Management, he articulated Quality as the national culture.

3. Zero Defect state means reaching a defect less state of operation. This is an ideal state but achievement is elusive. Even a Six Sigma level of operation can result in 3.4 Defects in a Million Opportunities.

4. Why is it so difficult to achieve the desired Quality level? Because, Quality does not happen by accident. It has to be planned for. Quality, like a baby, is to be conceived and nurtured, built in to the product / service through defining the parameters, designing the processes and determining the control measures. Will this assure with confidence that the equipment would render its expected function effectively at the time of calling, always, every time? If so, why do Customers lack satisfaction and confidence in the equipment that was procured on the basis of Quality guarantee?

5. The perceptions and expectations of customers from the term “Quality” are changing by the day. The customer is not contended with the Quality of equipment supplied on receipt alone. The same level of functionality, performance and conformance is expected throughout the life cycle of the product with the least down time in use.

6. Quality & Reliability, though often used interchangeably and together, are not the same. Quality is the degree of conformance to a specification or a product requirements, whereas, Reliability is the probability that the product will perform its intended functions for the specified interval of time under the stated conditions of use.

7. Individual components making up a complex aggregate influence its Reliability. However, in the absence of system level Reliability data, component level Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) figures stipulated by the manufacturers do not help. Building Reliability during design and development of a product alone is not enough. It is equally important to stipulate the mechanisms for prediction / estimation and demonstration of the designed Reliability. Historically, Reliability has been viewed as an in-exact science. Recent advancements in Reliability Demonstration Methods have transformed the so called probabilistic Reliability into deterministic Reliability.

8. Standards for Quality Management     Standards are a benchmark for comparison to identify variations and are tools for narrowing down dispersions. Such standards for product parameters are very easy to visualize and comprehend, thereby making it effective. When it was realized that the product quality was to be substantiated by a certificate of consistency, the standards for systems and processes that yield the products were born.

9. Popular among these are standards for Quality Management Systems (ISO 9001:2016), Environmental Management Systems (ISO 14001:2015), Occupational Health & Safety (ISO 45001:2018) and even the guideline standard for Social Responsibility (ISO 26000:2010). The remarkable aspect of all these standards is the Risk based Approach which makes it binding on the Organizations to go through the Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA) as a way of life. There are also widely used function specific standards like, Corporate Governance of Information Technology (ISO/IEC 38500:2008), Risk Management ISO Guide (73: 2009) and Industry specific standards like AS 9100, IATF 16949.

10. Contemporary Quality Management    The last century saw the Quality Management efforts evolve from “Role based” when it was confined to the Inspection or Quality Control Dept. to “Requirement based” since managing the Process yields qualitative results. It was widely recognized that the lasting culture of innovating for Quality has to be “People based”.

11. During the last decade or so, we have gained expertise in collating and analyzing the data collected from the manufacturing processes. This gives a whole new meaning to Statistical Process Control rendering it accurate and result oriented. The role of current day Quality professionals lies in identifying mechanism and check points for data capture for Statistical Process Control and running the PDSA cycles based on the measurements.

12. Quality will remain the international business language for worldwide trade networks as the distinguishing aspect among competing products & services. Accordingly, Quality Management will continue to play its crucial role by moving beyond traditional methods and employing innovative strategies by adapting to the changed environment.

13. Future role of today’s Quality Managers will be functioning as internal consultants to establish standards, processes and control measures, carry out Risk analysis of process, measure and improve Reliability and train the personnel in leveraging the information systems to analyse the process data for early trends to implement corrective and improvement measures.


1. In the past, in many big organisations, the organisational culture did not provide sufficient impetus for the people at the working level to take Quality Management systems seriously. However, in the last few decades, this trend has been reversing and especially, people at the leadership position have started recognising its importance and its enormous potential for helping to meet the organisational objectives. Three decades of working in the Petroleum Industries have provided me the insight of evolution of the Management Systems in this industry. Top Management have started giving more emphasis on Quality Management Systems with clear commitment to make it happen all across the organisation. In most companies, this change started with assigning the responsibility of managing entire QMS to say, one individual. Subsequently, it has grown to a section, then to a department and now, in most successful companies, it has become a part of their organisational culture. Earlier, people looked at QMS and its compliance requirements as a burden and a hindrance to their normal work. Now, many have experienced the benefits which came out of it and has consider it as an essential requirement.

2. In Petroleum industry, where people are working in an extremely hazardous environment, complying to the standards of QMS often helps in reduction of accidents and avoiding occurrence of emergency situations. It is more relevant for the people working in the Process plants, Tank farms, despatch locations, shop floors.

3. Commitment from the leadership is absolutely essential to maintain this work culture within the organisation. It is human tendency to take short cuts and unless certain checks and balances are introduced, monitored and corrective action taken, every system introduced will get diluted over a period of time. Here comes, importance of leadership commitment. Top management needs to review the status and progress of QMS periodically and corrective action to be taken for any deviations.

4. The classical Plan-Do-Check-Act(PDCA) showed leadership to be responsible at clause 5 of Quality Management System(QMS) ISO 9001:2008. With the revision of QMS to the current version ISO 9001:2015 and integration of QMS to Environment Management System(EMS) ISO 14001:2015 and Occupational Health and Safety Management System(OHSMS) ISO 45001:2018, the leadership had become a driving force in all the aspects of these standards.

5. In the latest edition of ISO 9001:2015, the leadership is shown as the central element in the new PDCA Cycle. You may refer the representation of it on the next page. A similar but simplified cycle given in EMS and OHSMS also shows leadership to be the epicentre of all activities.

6. In the environment of the Integrated Management System(IMS) Clause 5 is providing details of Leadership and clause 5.1 continues to essay the aspects of Leadership and commitment. Let’s make a ready reckoner across all three standards pertaining to Clause 5.

Clause 5 across Management Standards

ClauseISO 9001:2015ISO 14001:2015ISO 45001:2018
5.0LeadershipLeadershipLeadership and worker participation
5.1Leadership and CommitmentLeadership and CommitmentLeadership and Commitment
5.1.2Customer Focus—-—-
5.2PolicyEnvironmental policyOH&S policy
5.2.1Establishing the Quality Policy—-—-
5.2.2Communicating the Quality Policy—-—-
5.3Organizational roles, responsibilities and authoritiesOrganizational roles, responsibilities and authoritiesOrganizational roles, responsibilities and authorities
5.4—-—-Consultation and participation of workers

7. Top Management demonstrated its leadership and commitment for the development and implementation of the management systems. The important considerations in the implementation strategy are as follows:

  • Taking accountability of the effectiveness of the integrated Quality, Environment, Health and Safety (QEHS) Management System;
  • Taking overall responsibility and accountability for the prevention of work related injury and ill health as well as the provision of safe and healthy work places and activities ;
  • Ensuring that the QEHS Policy and objectives are established for the management system and are compatible with the strategic direction and the context of the organization;
  • Ensuring that the integration of the QEHS Management system requirements into the organizations business processes;
  • Ensuring that the QEHS Policy is communicated, understood and applied within the organization and is available to relevant interested parties as appropriate;
  • Promoting awareness of the process approach and risk based thinking;
  • Ensuring that the resources needed for the management system are available;
  • Communicating the importance of effective integrated management and of conforming to the management system requirements;
  • Ensuring that the management systems achieves its intended results;
  • Engaging, directing and supporting persons to contribute to the effectiveness of the management system;
  • Promoting continual improvement;
  • Supporting other relevant management roles to demonstrate their leadership as it applies to their areas of responsibility.
  • Ensuring that the management systems nonconformities and opportunities are identified, and action is taken to improve the performance of the organization;
  • Protecting workers from reprisals when reporting incidents, hazards, risk and opportunities
  • Establishing processes for consultation and active participation of workers in the process of continual improvement and identify and remove obstacles and barriers to participation;
  • Promote a positive culture in the organization;
  • Support the purchase of energy efficient products and services, design for energy performance improvements.

8. Showing Leadership Commitment in integrated Quality, Environment, Health and Safety (QEHS) Management System The process of implementation of transition to 2015 version of QMS, EMS and from OHSAS 18001:2007 to OHSMS 45001:2018 involved a dedicated team effort. The integration of all the three standards to provide a single integrated QEHS Management System was done with high level of professionalism. All seven Quality Management Principles were weaved in to the system with clear understanding of all clauses of the International Standards and customer focus to ensure continual improvement. In the process, the top management believed in customer focus and customer obsession became the driving spirit.

From customer satisfaction to Customer Obsession

Alen Paul George, Principal Software Analyst Microsoft Certified Professional – MCSA Dynamics 365

1. Delivering modern products and services is a complex process and usually requires the collaborative efforts of multiple teams like sales, professional services and support. The cohesion and coordination between these teams and the way they present a one-company-view to the customer is a major differentiator in customer success today.

2. Accomplishing this level of coordination between people who seldom talk/interact with each other and reports to different managers and divisions is accomplished, partly through the culture the company cultivates in its employees and partly through a modern Customer Relationship Management software system the company invests in.

3. Culture – Eliminate the culture of blame games and reward those who take accountability and stay with the customer till the customer has been handed off to the next business unit. Details of customer interactions MUST be fed into the software. Data collection and categorization need to be part of the culture at all levels.

4. Technology– CRM systems that is always available to customer facing employees – via mobile devices, tablets, laptops and office desktops. Data is the life blood of the company. The CRM system should have data analytics/reporting/auto-alerts/Trend Analysis ability so that the generated data can be used by mangers in real time to adapt the business or to intervene early, if a client’s experience with the company is on a downward spiral.

5. Today’s CRM systems need to be omni-channel. Especially in the B2C market, customers are deep into the sales pipeline long before they can meet with a company sales representative. The purchasing decisions of the modern customer takes place in realms of social media – in twitter, yelp, fb, product reviews etc. Legacy software simply does not have the ability to keep track of what is being said about the company and its products in the internet. It cannot gauge the impact a comment has nor can it deduce what is the emotion behind the free text comments that proliferates in the internet. This is where social media integrated CRM systems that continuously tunes into social media buzz and intelligently picks up opportunities for the staff to intervene, sets customer service apart. Technologies like Social media integration, natural language processing, and sentiment analysis allow even large corporations to stay relevant in the eyes of its millennial customers.

6. Tomorrow’s customers expect ability to make purchases through all channels – brick and mortar stores, websites, mobiles or even directly from a picture uploaded by a friend in a social media platform. With the shrinking relevance of brick and mortar stores, the role of virtual reality and augmented reality in the customer experience is increasing. Several purchasing channels now incorporate VR to allow prospects to evaluate a product over the internet. This is particularly evident in real estate.

7. Is your company making the culture and technology investments at your workplace to thrive in the modern world?

Why should we go for ISO 9001-2015

Wg Cdr MPSudhir Kumar, Director BRiQ MSS

The new version of ISO 9001:2015 is different from its older version by several means and these are expected to engage organisation and its top management for better and faster growth in a much practical way and with far more considerations of internal & external issues and challenges. Some of the distinguishing reasons to go for ISO 9001:2015 are as follows:

  1. Interested parties and context-based quality management system: This now requires the organisation to set the contexts in terms of expectation by customers as well as other stake holders. It also has to consider organization culture, socio economic conditions, competency of its own people and others working for & on behalf of the organisation, the complexity of process, etc. Clause 4 deals with the context of the organisation and its alignment with strategic direction. Since internal and external interested parties, their expectation, issues and risks vary between one organization to other, the design and development of quality management system between them will also have to be different and the new version of ISO provides a more practical approach to quality management systems.
  2. Risk assessment and mitigation: Risk assessment and mitigation have been made an integral part of the standards as the consequences of delivering a non-conforming product may vary from customer to customer. Few of the risk may completely jeopardise the organisation’s own operation and purpose. The qualitative-risk-based thinking is a must for any organisation going for ISO 9001:2015. Clause 6.0 calls for identification of risks, plans to mitigate them, integrate them with the quality management system and methods to review them periodically. Based on the risks, associated quality management system has to be planned and controlled.
  3. Leadership: Demonstration of leadership and commitment by the top management is mandatory in present format of standards and are made accountable for effectiveness of quality management system. The various considerations for the effectiveness of QMS have been mentioned in standards.
  4. Knowledge management: Clause 7.1.6 requires defining the knowledge necessary to perform the work, knowledge need to be acquired, lessons learnt from successes as well as failure, internal and external sources of knowledge, availability of knowledge to the extent possible and its recording. This not only improves the knowledge required to perform but also the sustenance of improvement done in the organization in the long run.
  5. Improvement: Identifying areas of opportunity, making action plan to reduce non-conformity, improving customer satisfaction, processes and quality management system is mandatory as per clause 10. Improvement from breakthrough, transformations and innovations has also been included.

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