Practical experience with quality improvement in small companies
Over the past few years, SINTEF Industrial Management has carried out several network projects on quality improvement for small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs). The projects have been conducted according to the standardised SINTEF Quality Improvement Programme (QIP). The main activities of the programme are initial education, planning and organisation of company projects, the reactive problem solving process, company-wide work unit analysis and initiation of a continuous improvement process. This paper focuses on the improvement section of the programme, especially the activities related to the Reactive Problem Solving Conference (RPSC). The article gives an argument for using RSPC and problem solving as early as possible in the programme to increase interest in and understanding of the quality improvement process. An example of a problem-solving process in a SME is described, showing how relatively simple activities are used to improve the production process.