Total Quality Management and Reduction

Total Quality Management (TQM) is a management philosophy and a set of accompanying quality improvement techniques that has been adopted by many American corporations. By applying TQM philosophy and techniques, businesses undertake continuous improvement across all operations by seeking to discover the reasons for poor quality performance and customer service and implementing methods to reduce and/or eliminate the causes of poor quality.

Fundamental to the TQM philosophy is the idea of defect prevention versus defect detection. Traditionally, quality control efforts have concentrated on detection of defects through inspection after the product is manufactured. This process results in rework and waste. Under the TQM philosophy, quality control is an on-going activity throughout the entire process cycle: it focuses on understanding the causes of problems and seeks to reduce or eliminate their impact in the most cost-effective manner. By making use of employee familiarity with work problems, TQM taps into the creative capabilities of employees to find solutions to the problems. Total Quality Management focuses on people: it encourages the formation of teams and empowerment of employees.

Total Quality Environmental Management

Waste or pollution can be viewed as an inefficiency or defect within a process that results in poor environmental performance for a company. The tools and philosophies of TQM can be used to improve environmental performance by eliminating the waste or reducing its impact. The application of these tools and philosophies to improve environmental performance is known as Total Quality Environmental Management (TQEM).

Tools of TQEM

The tools of TQEM are identical to those used in any TQM program and include the following:

In a TQEM program, each tool serves a different purpose. When used in conjunction with each other, the tools:

One of the tools used in a TQEM program is the Pareto Chart. Resembling bar charts, Pareto Charts are used to determine the greatest opportunity for a pollution prevention program. Analysis of the Pareto Chart provides information on a starting point for a TQEM program.

Another tool used in a TQEM program is the Cause and Effect Diagram or Fishbone Diagram. The Cause and Effect diagram is developed through brainstorming efforts and depicts all the probable causes of the certain problem. This brainstorming searches for root causes of the problem and eliminates the focus on symptoms.

Analysis of the Pareto Chart and Cause and Effect Diagram can help the company identify problem areas and causes for environmental problems.

The next step in the TQEM program is to analyze the process by measuring the inherent variability of waste generation that is expected from the process. Anything beyond this level of variability is not acceptable and should be investigated with the Cause and Effect Diagram. The Control Chart is the tool used to determine the quantity of inherent process variability and the quantity that is due to other causes.

The upper and lower control limits on the chart represent the bounds of variability that are expected within this process. The correct process parameter is sampled and the value is compared against the limits. Abnormal patterns or points outside the limits on the Cause and Effect Diagram alert the TQEM team to specific areas for investigation. Process parameters can include:

The philosophies and tools of TQEM give companies a systematic method for continued improvement in environmental performance. The application of TQEM to solving a product quality and waste problem is demonstrated by the example of Flynt Fabrics, a North Carolina company. For additional information on the use of TQEM tools and philosophies, consult the following reference: Total Quality Management: A Framework for Pollution Prevention. Quality Environment Subcommittee. President's Commission on Environmental Quality. Washington, D.C., January 1993.

Return to Index

Flynt Fabrics TQEM Case Study

Flynt Fabrics became involved with TQEM tools in 1986. The President and CEO, Charles H. Flynt Jr., envisioned the company as a world-class producer of knitted fabric. TQEM was to become a tool to accomplish this challenge, and the plant in Graham, N.C., became the company's experiment site. At that time, the Graham Knitting facility had a quality failure rate exceeding 5 waste product. Through the use of brainstorming, Pareto charts, Histograms, Control Charts, and Cause and Effect Diagrams and with the cooperation of the management and associates at Graham Knitting, the plant finished 1993 with a success rate of 99.116-percent first quality produced. This achievement resulted in large reductions in solid waste.

Flynt Fabric's finishing plants at Burlington and Hillsborough, N.C., have taken TQEM a step further by using TQEM tools such as design of experiments and studies on product capability and product reliability to improve product performance and quality.

Return to Index

Case Study: Baxter Healthcare Corporation

Baxter Healthcare Corporation, a pharmaceutical company employing approximately 2,500 people, produces intravenous solutions. The solutions and the associated plastic apparatus are manufactured on site. Source reduction activities at Baxter Healthcare are summarized below.

  1. Freon was used to degrease mechanical parts at the facility. Isopropyl alcohol, which does not release the ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) associated with Freon, was found to be a suitable substitute. The company has almost completely substituted the solvent-based paints used in general housekeeping with water-based paints.

  2. The installation of "Lone Pine" inventory control computer software led to more efficient usage of laboratory chemicals. The tighter inventory control resulted in large reductions in the quantities of chemicals discarded by the company.

  3. The boiler used for steam generation at the facility was converted from oil- to wood-fired. Wood waste from local sawmills is now used as fuel. The change in fuels saved the company on costs of purchasing fuel, reduced sulfur dioxide emissions to the atmosphere (from the oil), and prevented some 31,000 ft3 (12 semi-trailer loads) of wood waste being sent to the landfill each day.

  4. Cardboard boxes containing the finished product are stored at the company's warehouse prior to shipping. Pallets of boxes were stored in three-high stacks. Baxter Healthcare found that the lower boxes were prone to distortion and collapse, especially on humid days when the cardboard would absorb moisture. The company switched from 3- to 2-box stacks. Despite the additional space required, the new arrangement permitted the use of boxes with thinner walls as the lower box in a stack now supports only one pallet. The thin-wall cardboard packaging requires less material to manufacture; thus, less cardboard is now scrapped as fewer boxes are collapsing from weight stress.

  5. Large quantities of waste oil were previously discarded but are now filtered and reused on site.

  6. By adopting the "Safety Kleen" Solvent Substitution Program, Baxter Healthcare substituted nonhazardous solvents for hazardous varieties and avoided the costs of disposing these chemicals as hazardous waste.

  7. After plastic parts are manufactured, edge trimmings and other plastic scrap are collected and diverted back to the company's out-of-state extrusion plant for reuse. This practice eliminates the cost of landfilling the material and reduces raw material costs at the extrusion plant.

Waste Reduction

Annual Savings

By selling the cardboard, paper and much of the plastic to vendors, the company realizes $204,000 in revenues each year. This figure does not include the savings associated with avoidance of landfill fees. Total savings associated with plastic reuse are currently $1.7 million each year.

Other Activities

The company is implementing a system to dewater the sludge generated from its wastewater treatment plant. As the dried material will be used as boiler fuel, another solid waste stream will be eliminated from the company's total waste output.

For more information, contact Phillip Castro, Environmental Manager, (704) 756-4151.

Source Reduction Activity: Baxter Healthcare Reduction in Use
Material Quantity Percent
Freon eliminated as cleaning agent Freon 2.15 tons 100
Substitution of lab chemicals Chemicals 790 pounds 81
Steam generation by wood burning Oil 7,005 tons N/A
Packaging redesign Cardboard 1,750 tons 19.4
Waste oil Oil 4 tons 100
Substitution of cleaning solvent Hazardous solvent 1,800 pounds 90
Reuse of waste plastic Plastic 2,771 tons 62

Return to Index

Return to Index