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Total Quality Management Case Study Examples

At Toyota, all employees have two roles: their own job and quality assurance.


On each vehicle production line, a cord, known as the Andon cord, runs along the length of the line. If a line worker notices anything unusual, such as a defect, they pull this cord and the line stops. The team then concentrates all of their effort on correcting the defect before the line starts up again.


Toyota invented the concept of Just in Time in 1938 (often described as ‘Just in time, stop the line’). The objective was not simply to reduce inventory, as is often thought, but to avoid building up too much stock with defects which would have to be written off or corrected.


Just in Time and this culture of quality evolved into the Toyota Production System and its more generic equivalent, Lean Manufacturing, which is the benchmark for manufacturing organisations across the globe.



Toyota introduced Total Quality Management (TQM) as long ago as 1961 and was the first to introduce ‘Kaizen’ (lit. ‘improvement’) to represent the concept of continuous improvement.


These concepts and the associated culture are practiced in every aspect of Toyota’s operations, including information systems.


Page 4: Total Quality Management

Total Quality Management (TQM) is a key feature of Nissan's way of working. TQM involves making customer satisfaction top priority. Given this goal, everything the organisation and its people do is focused on creating high quality. To achieve this, Nissan has to:

  • understand customer requirements
  • consider the processes involved in providing quality, not just the end result
  • prioritise and standardise tasks to deliver quality
  • educate all employees to work in this way.

In practical terms TQM involves:

  • identifying customers and their requirements
  • establishing and using objectives (targets) for all areas of activity
  • basing decisions on researched hard facts rather than on hunches
  • identifying and eliminating the root causes of problems
  • educating and training employees.

TQM is an ongoing process; a way of thinking and doing that requires an 'improvement culture' in which everyone looks for ways of doing better. Building this culture involves making everyone feel their contributions are valued and helping them to develop their capabilities.

A cycle of Plan, Do, Check, Action becomes part of every employee's thinking, because it represents Nissan's way of working.

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