Quality Function Deployment (QFD)

The Quality Function Deployment process (QFD) is used to define customer requirements, and then convert them into detailed engineering plans and specifications to produce products that meet those requirements. QFD is used for translating customer requirements (or VOCs) into measurable target designs and driving them down from the assembly, sub-assembly and component levels. The QFD methodology is a set of matrices that are used to help facilitate this progression.

Yoji Akao, a former Mitsubishi shipyard employee, developed QFD in Japan in the late 1960s. Later, other companies adopted it including Toyota and its entire supply chain. The early 1980s saw the introduction of QFD in the United States, mainly by three major automotive companies and some electronics manufacturers. The acceptance and growth of QFD were slow at first, but it has gained popularity in recent years. It is now used by manufacturing, healthcare, and service organizations.

Why implement Quality Function Deployment?

Communication is essential to the success of any business. QFD effectively communicates the customer’s needs to all business functions within an organization, including marketing, sales, design, quality assurance, manufacturing, and production. The Voice of the Customer can be effectively communicated to the entire organization, allowing them to produce high-quality products that are valued by customers. The use of Quality Function Deployment has several other benefits:

  • Customer Focused – QFD places emphasis on what customers want and need, not what the company believes the customer wants. The Voice of the Customer becomes technical design specifications. During the QFD, design specifications will be driven down to machine, subsystem, and component levels. Lastly, design specifications are monitored throughout the assembly and production processes to ensure that customer requirements are met.
  • VOC Competitor Analyse: The QFD “House of Quality” tool allows you to compare your product or design against the competition when it comes to meeting VOC. This analysis is useful in helping you make design decisions that will put you ahead of your competition.
  • QFD can reduce the time and cost of development by focusing on features and improvements that are based on the customer’s requirements. QFD prevents project resources and time from being wasted developing non-value-added features or functions.
  • Structure and documentation: QFD offers a structured way and tools to record decisions and lessons learned throughout the product development cycle. This knowledge base is a record of past projects that can be used to help future ones.

Companies need to bring new, improved products that are tailored to the actual needs and wants of customers while also reducing their development time. The QFD method is designed for organizations that are committed to listening and meeting the needs of their customers.