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South African Journal of Industrial Engineering

On-line version ISSN 1012-277X

Abstract

VAN DYK, D.J.  and  PRETORIUS, L.. A systems thinking approach to the sustainability of quality improvement programmes. S. Afr. J. Ind. Eng. [online]. 2014, vol.25, n.1, pp. 71-84. ISSN 1012-277X.

The challenge for organisations to continually provide the best return on investment for their shareholders has become increasingly difficult through globalisation of the market place. There are many responses a company could make to these challenges - for example, new product development, increased market capitalisation, cost reduction initiatives, and quality management. This last response focuses on, but is not restricted to, customer satisfaction, continuous improvement, and environmental impact. Continuous improvement addresses waste in the business design and manufacturing processes, which could lead to improved profit margins. The sustainability of quality improvement programmes remains a challenge. Causality can be studied, using Six Sigma tools, to relate cause and effect. But these tools do not always allow the user to study and understand feedback from other factors, such as soft human issues, in the improvement process system, typically referred to as 'feedback causality'. System dynamics may improve this understanding. Quality improvement programmes in the heavy engineering manufacturing environment are not researched to the same degree as those in the automotive manufacturing environment. The purpose of this paper is to share results from research into the sustainability of quality improvement programmes, and the development of an appropriate system dynamics model, using qualitative case study data gathered and coded in a heavy engineering manufacturing environment.

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