20 Feb

How Companies Have Applied Deming's 14 Points in Manufacturing

Deming's 14 points of management along with Worximity's suite of performance tools drive manufacturing improvement and innovation.

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How Companies Have Applied Deming's 14 Points in Manufacturing
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Deming's 14 Points: A Blueprint for Manufacturing Success

The Evolution of Deming's Philosophy

William Edwards Deming was an American statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and consultant who is best known for his work in the field of quality management. In 1982, Dr. W. Edwards Deming published a revolutionary book titled Out of the Crisis promoting the now-familiar improvement cycle, Plan-Do-Study-Act. In his book, Deming presented management principles he called the “14 points.” These points, some philosophical and some programmatic, became known as Deming’s 14 points, and gradually coalesced into what is known today as Total Quality Management (TQM).

At its simplest, TQM is a management system focused on building customer-centric characteristics into every product.

What are Deming's 14 Points?

The original 14 points ushered in a landslide of new tools and techniques to break down barriers in improving manufacturing and reducing costs. Most importantly, the shifting productivity landscape brought about new ways of managerial thinking, which emphasized continuous improvement, process redesign, and Smart Factory analytics.

Let’s go into a little bit more detail on Deming's 14 Points:

Create Constancy of Purpose for Improvement

This point emphasizes the need for organizations to adopt a clear, unwavering commitment to continuously improve the quality of their products and services. In manufacturing, this means setting long-term goals for product quality, customer satisfaction, and process improvements.

Adopt the New Philosophy

Deming advocates for a shift in mindset from short-term profitability to long-term sustainability and quality improvement. In manufacturing, this could involve embracing new technologies, methodologies, or approaches that enhance quality and efficiency.

End Dependence on Inspection for Quality

Rather than relying solely on inspection to catch defects, Deming suggests focusing on improving processes to prevent defects from occurring in the first place. This could involve implementing quality control measures throughout the manufacturing process to ensure consistency and reliability.

Shift from Price-Driven to Cost-Minimization

Deming encourages organizations to build long-term relationships with suppliers based on mutual trust and collaboration rather than simply choosing the lowest bidder. In manufacturing, this can lead to better-quality materials, more reliable supply chains, and ultimately, higher-quality products. It also reduces reliance on a single supplier.

Continual Improvement of Planning, Production, and Service Processes

Continuous improvement is a central theme in Deming's philosophy. Manufacturers should continuously seek ways to optimize processes, reduce waste, and enhance product quality to stay competitive in the market.

Institute Leadership at Every Level

Effective leadership is essential for driving organizational change and fostering a culture of quality and continuous improvement. Leaders in manufacturing should apply a management-by-objective approach by providing clear direction, support, and resources to empower employees to contribute to the organization's success and, essentially, unleash the power of the workforce.

On-the-Job Training as a Key Element

Providing ongoing training and development opportunities for employees is crucial for building a skilled and knowledgeable workforce which can lead to improved productivity, better quality standards and control, and a culture of innovation. This could include hands-on training, mentorship programs, or workshops designed to enhance employees' skills and knowledge relevant to their current roles.

Drive Out Fear in the Workplace

Deming emphasizes the importance of creating a work environment where employees feel safe to voice their opinions, identify problems, and suggest improvements without fear of retribution. In manufacturing, this can lead to more open communication, better problem-solving, and a stronger sense of teamwork, eliminating low-quality work.

Break Down Silos Between Staff Areas

Collaboration and cooperation between different departments are essential for streamlining processes, reducing bottlenecks, and improving overall efficiency in manufacturing operations. This principle aligns with Deming's emphasis on creating a system of production and service that encourages cooperation and integration rather than competition or isolation between departments. An example of breaking down silos in a manufacturing environment could involve integrating the supply chain management and production departments to optimize inventory management and production scheduling. Traditionally, these two areas may operate independently, leading to inefficiencies such as overstocking of inventory, production delays due to material shortages, or excess lead times. By breaking down silos and fostering collaboration between supply chain management and production, organizations can improve inventory control and production planning. For instance, supply chain managers can work closely with production planners to align procurement schedules with production schedules, ensuring that materials are available when needed without excess inventory buildup. Real-time data sharing and communication between these departments can enable proactive decision-making, such as adjusting production schedules in response to changes in demand or supply chain disruptions.

Eliminate Workforce Slogans, Exhortations, and Targets

Deming argues that slogans and arbitrary targets can be counterproductive and distract employees from focusing on quality and process improvement. They tend to favor a merit rating rather than rewarding workers who try to improve operations. Instead, organizations should focus on creating a supportive environment that encourages intrinsic motivation and empowers employees to make valuable changes and take ownership of their work.

This does not necessarily mean that organizations should not have any production targets or goals. Instead, it suggests that organizations should cease depending on arbitrary numerical quotas that may incentivize employees to prioritize quantity over quality or engage in counterproductive behaviors.

Setting production targets can be beneficial for providing a sense of direction, motivating employees, and measuring performance. However, Deming warns against the potential pitfalls of relying solely on numerical quotas without considering the broader context and potential consequences.

Abandon Numerical Quotas for Workforce and Management

Setting numerical goals and quotas can lead to short-term thinking, corner-cutting, and a focus on quantity over quality. Deming suggests that organizations should instead focus on improving processes and providing employees with the resources and support they need to achieve high-quality results.

Remove Barriers to Pride of Workmanship

Employees should take pride in their work and strive for excellence. Organizations should remove barriers that hinder employees from delivering high-quality products and services and recognize and reward their contributions to the organization's success. Obstacles can consist of issues ranging from lack of resources, poor working conditions, inadequate communication, and poor management. Being able to identify these issues is important in establishing strategies to counter them.

Establish a Robust Program of Education and Self-Improvement

Continuous learning and self-improvement are essential for personal and professional growth. Organizations should invest in employee development programs and institute training to enhance skills, knowledge, and capabilities. In manufacturing, this is particularly important given the ever-increasing skills gap that necessitates a strategic approach to retaining good employees through professional development. Advocating for a broader program of education and self-improvement that encompasses formal education, continuous learning, and self-directed development efforts demonstrates a commitment to providing workers with a fulfilling career.

Mobilizing the Entire Company for Transformation

Deming emphasizes that building quality products is not the responsibility of a select few but requires the collective effort of every employee in the organization. In manufacturing, this means involving all employees in identifying problems, suggesting solutions, and implementing process improvements to achieve the organization's quality goals. That being said, mobilizing a workforce requires proper planning and effective change management to ensure success.

Case Studies

Below are three case studies illustrating successes using Deming's 14 points and/or TQM.

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Grand Prairie, TX

In the late 1990s, Lockheed Martin MFC committed to applying Dr. Deming's 14 management points to increase productivity at its Texas operation. In 2012, the company received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for performance excellence. According to MFC's president, Mr. James F. Berry, "It [the Baldrige Award] represents the culmination of a 15-year journey focused on performance excellence, which has been ingrained in all we do.”

Lockheed Martin's commitment to excellence reflects the core of Deming's philosophy. The company’s program resulted in annual savings of $225 million. Also, MFC reported customer loyalty rates improved by 18 percent between 2007-2012. Employee retention rates were 95 percent in 2011 and 94 percent in 2012, and 100 percent of customers said they would definitely or probably do business with MFC in the future. These are “best in class” numbers for large manufacturers.

Honeywell Federal Manufacturing and Technologies, LLC., National Security Campus, Kansas City, MO

The Honeywell-managed Kansas City National Security Campus (KCNSC) employs more than 4,500 people and is a significant force in manufacturing and supplying critical parts to the Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration. In the mid-2000s, the company applied Deming's principles of management by implementing a productivity improvement program. The effort was so successful that in 2009, the company won the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for excellence in quality and performance.

Results placed the facility at the highest levels of business achievement. From 2006-2009, cost savings from improved performance and implemented innovations ranged from $23.5 million to $27 million annually. Customer satisfaction over the same period was at or above 95 percent, much higher than the commercial best-in-class range of 78-85 percent.

OPCO Construction Ltd., Wales, UK

Since its founding in 2001, OPCO Construction Ltd. has relied on Deming’s 14 points to optimize its business. The small, private firm recognized that all companies believed in projects that were on time, on budget, and at acceptable levels of quality. Nevertheless, managing to industry average was not good enough for OPCO. The company implemented a program referred to as OPCO's 14 Visions.

The 14 Visions expanded on each of Deming’s 14 points in a way that applied directly to OPCO's specific business and goals. The long-term program focused on four critical areas: people, communications, processes, and technology.

Deming’s Lasting Influence

One of the things for which Dr. Deming is best known is directing the rebuilding of Japanese industry during the post-WWII period. Toyota and Sony are high-profile examples of companies that applied Deming's 14 points and helped Japan become a world manufacturing leader.

During that time, Deming not only developed and made his 14 points of excellence famous, but also brought about a new way of thinking about business management. New techniques emerged from his work, including Total Quality Management, continuous improvement, and lean manufacturing. Using Deming’s methodologies, companies around the world have achieved new levels of performance and quality.

Download our Lean Manufacturing Industry 4.0. ebook to understand how technology can help you apply and build on Deming’s 14 points.


How do Deming's 14 Points relate to Total Quality Management (TQM)?

Deming's 14 Points and Total Quality Management (TQM) share core principles that emphasize customer focus, continuous improvement, employee involvement, process optimization, leadership commitment, supplier relationships, and data-driven decision-making. Deming's Points provide a practical framework for implementing TQM effectively, guiding organizations to create a culture of quality and continuous improvement by involving employees, optimizing processes, building strong supplier relationships, and using data to drive decision-making. Together, they form a comprehensive approach to quality management that aims to deliver value to customers and achieve organizational success.

How can Deming's 14 Points be applied to improve quality in a manufacturing environment?

Deming's 14 Points involves setting clear quality objectives aligned with customer needs, empowering employees to contribute to quality improvement initiatives, optimizing production processes to eliminate waste and defects, fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement, and leveraging data and metrics to track performance and drive informed decision-making. Additionally, building strong relationships with suppliers based on trust and collaboration ensures the quality of inputs and supports overall quality goals.

What is the Deming's theory?

Deming's theory, also known as the Deming Management Method or Deming's System of Profound Knowledge, is a holistic approach to management that emphasizes the importance of quality, continuous improvement, and employee engagement. At its core, Deming's theory revolves around four interrelated elements: understanding variation, systems thinking, knowledge of psychology, and understanding of the theory of knowledge. Deming believed that by focusing on these areas, organizations could do a better job, foster innovation, and cultivate a culture of continuous learning and improvement. Central to his theory is the idea that organizations must shift from a focus on short-term profits to long-term sustainability and quality excellence, empowering employees to grow and contribute their knowledge and expertise to drive organizational success.

Is Deming's 14 points still relevant in the Industry 4.0 era?

Deming's 14 Points remain highly relevant in the Industry 4.0 era, characterized by the integration of digital technologies, automation, data exchange, and artificial intelligence in manufacturing. While Industry 4.0 introduces new technologies and paradigms, the fundamental principles advocated by Deming—such as customer focus, continuous improvement, employee involvement, and data-driven decision-making—remain essential for achieving quality excellence and competitiveness in the modern manufacturing landscape. Industry 4.0 technologies can enhance the implementation of Deming's Points by providing new tools and capabilities for monitoring and optimizing processes, analyzing data to identify improvement opportunities, and facilitating collaboration and communication among employees and stakeholders. Therefore, while the context may evolve, the core principles of Deming's 14 Points continue to serve as a valuable foundation for quality management in the Industry 4.0 era.

Worximity's Synergy: Integrating Technology with Deming's Principles

Deming's 14 Points provide a timeless framework for organizations striving to achieve excellence in quality management and continuous improvement. In the modern manufacturing landscape, the principles outlined by Deming remain as relevant as ever, guiding organizations toward operational excellence and customer satisfaction. By leveraging Production and Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) monitoring, manufacturers can effectively apply Deming's Points in their day-to-day operations. These tools enable real-time visibility into production processes, identify areas for improvement, and facilitate data-driven decision-making—all essential elements of Deming's philosophy. Through a systematic approach to monitoring and optimizing production efficiency, manufacturers can enhance quality, reduce waste and rework, and ultimately deliver superior products that meet or exceed customer expectations. As technology continues to evolve, the integration of production and OEE monitoring into quality management practices further strengthens the application of Deming's timeless principles, ensuring continued success and competitiveness in the ever-changing manufacturing landscape.

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