In the past, product design and development has been focused on the often-erroneous company view of customer requirements. It has been largely concerned with specification and, whilst honest attempts have been made to link the design activity and specifications to the final customer these have not always been successful due to the complex nature of the process of designing and producing products. In many cases the true customer requirements have become lost in the technical debate over historical precedent, producibility and technological capability.
The new economic era, where customers have much more choice than in the past, and where they are far more likely to exercise it, has made it an imperative for organizations to become much more customer focused.
Quality Function Deployment (QFD) theory was first defined and applied at the Kobe shipyard of Mitsubishi when they began to use a matrix that put customer demands on the vertical axis and the methods by which they would be met on the horizontal axis.
The system has developed from this simple basis to encompass the broad range of activities within most manufacturing organizations. The comprehensive application of the technique has been defined thus:
“A system for translating customer requirements into appropriate company requirements at every stage, from research through product design and development, to manufacture, distribution, installation and marketing, sales and service.”
It is equally valid to think of QFD as a way of identifying the true voice of the customer at an early stage and making sure that it is heard all the way through the design-production-delivery process to achieve high levels of customer satisfaction.One of the most important things to recognise about QFD is that it is not a quality technique. It is basically a planning tool used to focus teamwork where it really matters; on customer satisfaction.
Further material will be presented as part of the course manual.