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Importance of PDCA cycle

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Thanks to the growth of the industrial scenario, the competition – considering the increase of companies in the same industry, demand and improved purchasing power; leaders of industries arose with a new concern to develop new methods to share and rationalize the work in order to get higher productivity without affecting the product quality. The best way to obtain such goals is to use methods continuous improvements. Among the various methods, highlight the PDCA Cycle (Plan, Do, Check, Act) shows effectiveness and velocity in solving problems.

This methodology is a simple and effective way to plan, put into practice, monitor and act on failures, in order to reach the set target and can be used for both maintenance (also called SDCA, Standard, Do, Check, Action) as guidelines for improving the control of a process. The PDCA cycle should be done consistently, bringing results of continuous improvement to processes and therefore for organizations. This study aims to illustrate the importance of use of the PDCA cycle for quality assurance of the product in an process.

Literature Review
There has been carried out much research into effectiveness of quality processes. The PDCA has been studied as a powerful tool for managing processes and quality checking. This research has focused on the applicability of the PDCA cycle, exploring its concepts, methodologies and results if applied successfully in a process. Sokovic et al(2010) contends that every association utilizes distinctive procedures, methodologies and tools for implementing a quality management and programmes for continuous quality improvement. Regardless the methodology, approach, tool or the name of the continuous improvement programmes, every association will surely need to utilize a legitimate determination and synthesis of diverse methodologies, instruments and strategies in its execution process.

The vast majority of these procedures, methodologies and tools are worldwide and simple to comprehend and might be utilized by an extensive number of individuals of organizations, e.g. PDCA cycle or Deming’s circle. In addition to this, the authors emphasized that the PDCA cycle is more than simply a tool; it is an idea of ceaseless change procedures inserted in the organization’s culture. The most important aspect of PDCA lies in the “act” stage, after the conclusion of a project when the cycle begins again for the further improvement. As it is explained by Parkash and Kaushik(2011), the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle enable the manager to organize the process through five stages, properly definition and documentation, execution, results’ measurement and continuously evaluation to look for improvement opportunities. The better understanding of how the process is working, enable to see required corrective actions and improvements.

Once the need for corrective action is identified, the following step is to define which methods will be utilized to implement the corrective action. It is during this process that are recognized and eliminated the causes of the problems, such as errors, defects, deformities, lack of adequate process controls and others. The review of the actions taken is an essential part of the process, allowing you to check if the actions were successful or if there is a need of implementing new actions. Once the planned process outcomes are being achieved and requirements fulfilled, the centre of the organization becomes making efforts on actions to improve process performance to higher levels, on a continual basis.

A practical example of the successful use of the PDCA cycle in a process is demonstrated in the work done by Nakagawa and Shimizu (2004), which explain how lean construction system that adopts Toyota production system that is applied to building construction in Japan. In this process, the PDCA cycle is used in order to plan the entire process of construction, including the pre-prepared daily schedule of activities in the construction site. The flow diagram of this PDCA cycle is attached in the appendices section as Appendices A. In a different perspective, Maruta (2012) brought a new applicability to the PDCA cycle, diverting its focus to the field of knowledge. ”The application of the PDCA concept itself is not necessarily limited to manufacturing production work and/or team activities: it should be applicable even to “knowledge work” in such a way that current work progress is reviewed against the pre-established objective and then re-planned to achieve the objective based on the review progress.”(Maruta, 2012).

Several workers in Japan were told to try harder by using the PDCA cycle, In reality, however, it was not stated a specific methodology to apply the PDCA cycle for managing knowledge work by individual workers. The result found was that some employees were automatically applying the concept of PDCA cycle in their daily work without even realizing it. A controversial question was raised by Gupta (2006) when the author inquired the necessity of the Check stage of the PDCA cycle, considering that the PDCA cycle goal is the reduction of the need for verification activities. Once that the measures are being taken regularly, the need for checking should be decreasing, then reaching stability. It shows that the PDCA cycle is a tool that is performed automatically in a process after a while, thereby ensuring continuous process improvement.

This research project aimed to verify the importance of using the PDCA cycle for quality control in a process. The methodology chosen was an interview with Ricardo Lucas Hautequestt, which has Master’s degree in Management Engineering, provided that this area is extremely correlated to quality control. This interview was consisted of five questions about the PDCA cycle and quality control. Through the interview, it was possible to enhance the knowledge of the PDCA cycle, as well as recognize its realistic importance for processes in the modern market. The interview also expanded the relevance of its use and how the PDCA has been applied nowadays.

According to the interviewee, Quality control is a crucial section of every type of process, since is allows the evaluation of the conformity of executed activities and products generated. In this sense, the PDCA cycle has largely contributed to the control of an organization’s activities, especially those related to improvements, enabling the standardization of the information of quality control and the lowest probability of error in the analysis to make the information more understandable.

Furthermore, the interviewee highlights that The PDCA is an excellent strategic tool, whose main objective is to keep all company activities under control, both operational and administrative. A perfect synchronization between different processes and steps that relate to each other forming a whole, single, integrated, ensures the conservation and safeguarding of the standards of ideal performance. When asked to indicate some examples of benefits of quality stability, the interviewee presented some, such as properly use the resources(equipment, materials and workforce), standardize production, reduce wastage, standardize components and equipment, increase productivity and improve the quality.

Ultimately, this research has ratified the importance of the using the PDCA cycle, since it is a fundamental tool for quality control. The carried out interview confirmed the articles’ concepts of the use of the PDCA cycle in processes, and furthermore, provided real examples of its use and benefits taken from this. Even though this research might be seen as slightly limited, considering that there is only one interviewee, it affirmed the relevance of studying and developing the PDCA cycle, in order to continuously expand its use and consequently improve processes.

References list
Gupta, P., 2006. Beyond PDCA-A New Process Management. Qual. Prog. Maruta, R., 2012. Maximizing Knowledge Work Productivity: A Time Constrained and Activity Visualized PDCA Cycle. Knowl. Process Manag. 19, 203–214. Moen, R., Norman, C., 2006. Evolution of the PDCA cycle.

Nakagawa, Y., Shimizu, Y., 2004. Toyota Production System adopted by building construction in Japan, in: Proceedings of the 12th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction (IGLC-12), Helsingør, Denmark, 3-6 August. Ashgate. Parkash, S., Kaushik, V.K., 2011. Supplier Performance Monitoring & Improvement (SPMI) through SIPOC. Sokovic, M., Pavletic, D., Pipan, K.K., 2010. Quality improvement methodologies–PDCA cycle, RADAR matrix, DMAIC and DFSS. J. Achiev. Mater. Manuf. Eng. 43, 476–483.

Interview transcript
1) In your opinion, what is the importance of the quality control in a process? Quality Assurance aims to evaluate the adherence of executed activities and work products generated to patterns, processes, procedures and established and applicable requirements. Provides an objective and independent view, both for process or product activities, regarding deviation and points to be improved, in order to ensure the intended quality is not compromised. Besides checking whether the process is appropriate, being followed and working for the organization(avoiding rework, improving cost and time), it seeks to identify deviations as soon as possible and monitor their resolution until they are completed.

2) What is the importance of the PDCA cycle for quality control? The PDCA cycle is one of the first tools of quality management that allows control of the process. This is a widely applied method for effective and reliable control of an organization’s activities, especially those related to improvements, enabling the standardization of the information of quality control and the lowest probability of error in the analysis to make the information more understandable.

3) How far do you think that the PDCA cycle is important for a process? The PDCA is an excellent strategic tool, whose main objective is to keep all company activities under control, both operational and administrative. A perfect synchronization between different processes and steps that relate to each other forming a whole, single, integrated, ensures the conservation and safeguarding the standards of ideal performance.

4) Have you seen the PDCA cycle being applied? Have you ever used the PDCA cycle in a process? An example of using the PDCA cycle is the Toyota, it suggests that those involved in a working group to solve problems, using PDCA, are more able to innovate and stay ahead of the competition through a rigorous method of problem solving. This also creates a culture of problem solvers using PDCA and creates a culture of critical thinkers.

5) Which benefits are brought when a process reaches quality stability? There are several benefits of reaching quality stability, such as properly use the resources(equipment, materials and workforce), standardize production, facilitate the workforce training improving their technical level, reduce wastage, standardize components and equipment, reduce the range of products, increase productivity and improve the quality.

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