An investigation into the applications of database techniques to the quality assurance of manufacture

  • Barbara Savage

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The basic concept for this work is that, in a Total Quality environment, all data must be considered to be quality data in order to achieve a truly informed process of continuous quality improvement, throughout the whole range of organisational activity.
    In order to establish the place of this concept in respect of current theory, a number of quality control, quality assurance and Total Quality techniques and. strategies are examined. In each case, an attempt is made to define the data support necessary to ensure the best possible effectiveness in use. In some instances, IT tools are already available; their applicability is investigated and their limitations are established, with a view to future integration.
    Another issue which must be considered is the location of existing quality data throughout the many systems (both computerised and paper-based) which support the various areas of organisational activity. Of particular importance are the questions of which data is held, and how accessible it is for use in problem investigation and improvement planning.
    The above surveys are drawn together to guide the construction of a set of aims and objectives to be satisfied by an Integrated Quality System (lQS). These were then formalised into a functional requirement for a: generic IQS in line with current Total Quality theory. However, a theoretical system must, of necessity, be customised to suit the needs and working practices of real organisations. Hence, the findings of a study carried out at a manufacturing company by the members of the project team in which the author worked were used to establish user requirements for an IQS. The two sets of requirements, theoretical versus user, were then merged to provide a single, mutually satisfactory, functional requirement.
    In order to investigate the appropriateness of various aspects of the proposed IQS, elements of the functional requirements were implemented in a laboratory prototype. This prototype served a number of purposes:
    a) to clarify the perceived desires of the test site users;
    b) to investigate differences between various methods of eliciting software specifications (both functional and related to the mode of use) from users in terms of the final satisfaction achieved and the level of modification required during development;
    c) to establish some of the interface links which must be provided to merge IT systems currently in use to achieve a truly integrated system for Total Quality support;
    d) to consider the importance of certain "poor relation" quality related activities in the light of integrated Total Quality.
    The proposed IQS architecture is then revised in the light of the findings of the prototype and a modified structure is suggested. The recently published results of other researchers are considered and related to the modified IQS specification.
    Date of AwardMar 1993
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of the West of England
    SupervisorJeff Knight (Supervisor) & Stephen Hoddell (Supervisor)

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