Quality of Products
Quality of Products
the aggregate of properties of a product determining its ability to satisfy the needs it was built to satisfy.
The Directives on the Five-year Plan for the Development of the National Economy of the USSR for 1971–75, which were put forth by the Twenty-fourth Congress of the CPSU, emphasize the need “to raise the technical level, efficiency, and quality of all types of products. In their qualitative and technical-economic features, newly developed products should match the leading achievements of world science and technology” (Materialy XXIV s”ezda KPSS, 1971, p. 247).
Under present conditions, product quality encompasses both consumer and production features of products, including design and aesthetic qualities, reliability, durability, and the level of standardization and unification of parts and units.
The characteristics that make up product quality are described by continuous or discrete magnitudes which are called indexes of product quality and which must have quantitative measures. The indexes may be absolute, relative, or specific. The values of the magnitudes depend on the conditions and methods of determining them. Indexes of product quality are determined by objective methods, including organoleptic inspection (that is, by using the sense organs), by expert evaluation, and by other means; they are considered in relation to how the products are made and used (consumed). A product quality index that describes one feature is called a single index, and one that describes two or more features is called a composite index. A relative description of product quality based on a comparison between the product quality index and a corresponding set of base indexes is called the level of product quality. Both technical and economic data are used in evaluating the level.
Product quality is of paramount importance for overall national wealth and for the specific consumers of the products because the quality determines the use value. Raising product quality is often equivalent to increasing quantity, but it usually costs less than a quantitative increase in product output.
A composite integrated index of product quality that reflects the ratio of the total use (consumption) of the product to the total costs for its making and using (consuming) can serve as the criterion of optimality for the level of product quality, that is, of its efficiency. A maximum value for the integrated index of product quality means that the benefit per ruble of expenditure is maximized, that is, that maximum societal efficiency has been achieved.
Product quality is managed—established, secured, and maintained at the necessary level—by systematic verification, that is, by checking how quality indexes meet established requirements (standards, technical specifications, and other documented normative technical parameters), and by upgrading the conditions and factors determining product quality (quality of blueprints, equipment, tools, raw and processed materials, semifinished parts, and assembly components and the skills of the producers). Economic methods, which encompass such factors as planning, incentives, and price formation, play a large part in influencing product quality.
An important element in managing product quality is planning for quality improvement, that is, establishing sound targets for turning out products with definite index values that must be reached by a given time or in an assigned period. Planning for a rise in product quality should envision maximum use of the achievements of science and technology in accord with consumer demand, the purpose and conditions of product use, and the requirements of product safety and economic efficiency. Assignments and measures to raise product quality are worked out with reference to the analysis of the quality of products being turned out and are based on the principal directions of development of national economic sectors, forecasts of technical progress, the requirements of progressive standards, and the needs of the national economy for products of a certain level of quality.
The Uniform System for Certification of the Quality of Industrial Products, which was instituted in the USSR in 1971, combines state sectorial and plant certification. All products that establish the assigned area of the ministry, association, and enterprise as well as products that are regularly produced are subject to certification. Products turned out by manufacturing enterprises are certified according to three quality categories: highest, first, and second. Products that are under development and are being turned over for series production are certified in the highest or first categories. The highest category includes products whose technical and economic indexes match or surpass the highest achievements of domestic and foreign science and technology. These products are awarded the state mark of quality in the established manner. The first category includes products whose technical and economic indexes meet the requirements of existing standards and technical specifications, whereas the second category is for products that do not meet these requirements, are out of date and subject to modernization or withdrawal from production, or are subject to standards and technical specifications that require revision in the established manner. The Uniform System is a basis for planning the volume of product output by appropriate quality categories, for ensuring a rise in quality of products, and for economically stimulating the output of products predominantly in the highest quality category.
Standards play a special role in ensuring high product quality. Establishing comprehensive standards for raw and processed materials, semifinished parts, assembly components, and finished products is an effective way to achieve a planned rise in product quality. Standards establish optimal quality indexes, parametric series of products, monitoring and testing methods, technical servicing conditions, methods of maintenance, spare part norms, and the like. Recognizing the great importance of standards in the system for controlling product quality, the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR adopted in November 1970 the decree entitled Raising the Role of Standards in Improving the Quality of Output. The implementation of the decree has made it possible to strengthen the regulating and organizing influence of standards in the management of product quality.
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A. V. GLICHEV, IA. B. SHOR,
and IU. S. VENIAMINOV