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History of QFD

by glenn@mazur.net   |   www.mazur.net

QFD was developed in Japan in the late 1960s by Professors Shigeru Mizuno and Yoji Akao. At the time, statistical quality control, which was introduced after World War II, had taken roots in the Japanese manufacturing industry, and the quality activities were being integrated with the teachings of such notable scholars as Dr. Juran, Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa, and Dr. Feigenbaum that emphasized the importance of making quality control a part of business management, which eventually became known as TQC and TQM.

The purpose of Professors Mizuno and Akao was to develop a quality assurance method that would design customer satisfaction into a product before it was manufacturered. Prior quality control methods were primarily aimed at fixing a problem during or after manufacturing. The first large scale application was presented in 1966 by Kiyotaka Oshiumi of Bridgestone Tire in Japan, which used a process assurance items fishbone diagram to identify each customer requirement (effect) and to identify the design substitute quality characteristics and process factors (causes) needed to control and measure it.

In 1972, with the application of QFD to the design of an oil tanker at the Kobe Shipyards of Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, the fishbone diagrams grew unwieldy. Since the effects shared multiple causes, the fishbones could be refashioned into a spreadsheet or matrix format with the rows being desired effects of customer satisfaction and the columns being the controlling and measurable causes.

At the same time, Katsuyoshi Ishihara introduced the Value Engineering principles used to describe how a product and its components work. He expanded this to describe business functions necessary to assure quality of the design process itself.

Merged with these new ideas, QFD eventually became the comprehensive quality design system for both product and business process. The introduction of QFD to America and Europe began in 1983 when the American Society for Quality Control published Akao's work in Quality Progress and Cambridge Research (today Kaizen Institute) invited Akao to give a QFD seminar in Chicago. This was followed by several QFD lectures to American audiences sponsored by Bob King and GOAL/QPC in Boston.

Together with the English publication of QFD: "The Customer-Driven Approach to Quality Planning and Deployment " (1994 Quality Resources: ISBN92-833-1122-1; written by Mizuno and Akao; translated by Glenn Mazur) and "Quality Function Deployment—Integrating Customer Requirements into Product Design" (Productivity Press: ISBN 0-915299-41-0; written by Akao), QFD caught on across a wide variety of industries in the U.S. and Western Europe. The latter was translated by Glenn Mazur and the staff at Japan Business Consultants for GOAL/QPC for the first advanced QFD training outside Japan.

In the U.S., in particular, because of its flexibility and comprehensiveness, the methodology was eagerly embraced by the businesses that were facing the Japanese competition. The U.S. beat Japan by a few years in establishing the world first Symposium on QFD in 1989. New and innovative applications of QFD and emerging new thoughts and experiementations continue to emerge in this annual Symposium as evidenced in the Transactions.

Japan has continued to push the envelope of QFD applications through a QFD Research Sub-Committee at the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) and their annual QFD Symposium established in 1993. The Japanese hosted the first International Symposium on QFD and are a charter member of the International Council for QFD.

QFD continues to inspire strong interest around the world, generating ever new applications, practitioners and researchers each year. Countries that have held national and international QFD Symposium to this day include the U.S., Japan, Sweden, Germany, Turkey, China, Hong Kong, Brazil, and Australia.

QFD still evolves today in response to changing business practices, markets they operate, technology, as well as customer lifestyles. Modern QFD developed by the QFD Institute experts and the new ISO 16355 are most notable advancements in recent years.

Modern QFD tools set and techniques, including Blitz QFD®, address the needs of today's businesses that are global, agile, lean, and hi-tech infused. It does so with speed and efficiency that were not available in the traditional approaches such as House of Quality and 4-phase model.

Modern QFD’s in-depth robust Voice of Customer analytic tools have proven valuable especially for today’s Marketing and Product Planning teams as well as for innovative solution creation. These tools enable you to link higher level corporate strategy with individual project goals, by developing deeper understanding of the needs of stakeholders and business owners and driving down the corporate vision throughout the organization.

In June 2016, ISO 16355, the first ISO standard for QFD, was approval. This standard is intended to guide both novice and veteran product and process developers who use QFD, including practitioners of Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma, and Design for Six Sigma. The standard provides detailed examples and guidance to modern new product development, VOC analysis, customer requirements management, innovation, and business redesign.

The impact of ISO 16355 obsoletes the traditional House of Quality practice. To achieve compliance with this new international standard and maintain skills needed to achieve 21st century innovation, competitiveness, and quality, QFD Green Belt® and QFD Black Belt® Certificate Courses are strongly recommended for all practitioners and researchers.

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