Is quality Free - What are the reasons prevent quality from being free?

Many years ago Philip B, Crosby a famous quality guru  wrote a book title "Quality is Free" where he advocates for do it right the first time in the manufacturing process.

To understand the concept of  quality is free, we have to know what are the four categories cost of quality to understand the concept of quality is free per table below:-



Appraisal cost

Cost of performing test and inspection on a product to screen out potential defect include inspector

Internal failure cost

Cost of rework or scrapped product which does not comply to the spec

External failure cost

Cost of poor quality at customer site which involve warranty cost, product recall, lost of customer trust

Prevention cost

Cost of preventing a defect through quality planning of design in quality and build in quality


Among all the four components of quality cost,  most organization pay the least attention to the prevention cost.   Zero defect product does not happen by chance as there are many errors which could happen to throughout the product life cycle from birth to grave.  A very prevalent example that very little attention is being given on quality planning during the design phase would be a software product where there are always patches to correct the program.  I am sure all computer user would experience this all the time.  

Often organizations only think that do it right the first time is only applicable during the manufacturing of the product to achieve quality is free.

They are ignorant that product design is the main culprit of the cost of poor quality until it is too late.  

Many organization will never achieve quality is free due to 3 main reasons:-

1.  No attention is given to quality during the early design stage

Throughout concept/design till validation phase,  design and marketing team only focus on what is special innovation which will delight customer and customer is willing to pay for it. The normal design approach would be over the wall with little or no collaboration at all with another cross-functional team.  This mean quality planning is neglected.  During the production phase only quality control of inspection/test to filter out the non-conforming product during production which results in the high appraisal, internal failure cost and expensive external failure cost.  It is a ripple effect when there is no investment being made in prevention cost will subsequently result in other 3 quality cost.
2.  Unable to surface potential quality problem

The quality issue is always hidden and will only visible under certain circumstances.  Most quality problems happen at customer integration  as

there was a limited user interface study being done on how a customer could use or integrate into the macro environment. 

Another concealed quality problem would be there are not enough sample which represents the population to test out whole range spec. 

DFMEA and PFMEA  which unable to cover all aspect of a potential problem.  A good FMEA requires team member who specializes in quality engineering. 

3.  Short time to market

This is the most classic reason where organization always push for a product launch at the shortest time without taking into account where adequate testing and planning.  


Interested to know what does it take to achieve “quality is free”. More in an upcoming article.   

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