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What companies must do to attain zero-defects goal

By Bernard Njiraini | November 14th 2021

Upfield makers of Blue band margarine, Managing director, Peter Muchiri (right), with Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), Managing Director, Col (RTD) Bernard Njiraini, as they sample some of the products manufactured by Upfield. [Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

In my stint at the helm of the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) it has been clearer to me the sensitivity that comes with quality assurance. 

From fast-moving consumer goods – FMCGs to home appliances, industry machines, leaving no iota that a product is fit for human use or consumption matters. It’s like oxygen to living things. Once corrupted, their lives become endangered. Therefore, quality matters. 

However, it’s not been easy in the last two years for many companies and sectors of the economy to uphold quality standards since Covid-19 struck, but out of passion and sacrifices by quality practitioners, this has been achieved in many cases. To be sincere, when times get tough, quality is the last thing we can afford to sacrifice. We celebrate them.  Now, most people may not be aware, but November is Quality Month. It is the month that many companies are expected to raise the level of quality awareness internally and externally while recognising the efforts of quality professionals.

This year’s theme is Sustainability: Improving our products, people and planet. The focus is on quality’s role in sustainability and its environmental, social and governance impact. 

To producers of products consumed daily or used by you and me, and to employees - sustainability can’t just be an area that you and your organisation consider. As a body tasked with provision of standards and quality assurance, Kebs has defined the approach to sustainability in using standards-based solutions to deliver quality and confidence.

To achieve zero defects, key quality sector stakeholders must leverage on a massive pool of data that currently seats with consumers and in high automated machines. As it is, the quality of data captured, stored, structured and cleaned must be accurate, complete, relevant, timely and consistent to ensure the end product is of quality.

Products or services offered can only be as good as the data collected. According to McKinsey, today’s heavily instrumented, highly automated production environments present both an opportunity and challenge for quality teams. The opportunity is provided by the sheer size of the “data lake”, which may have grown by orders of magnitude over recent years. The challenge comes in knowing how to make use of all that data – but that is what they need to crack to achieve quality data. 

 The writer is the Managing Director, Kenya Bureau of Standards

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