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Peter Tzaklev

Quality Insider

I Have a Dream . . .

Of six sigma<br><br>Opinion

Published: Monday, May 7, 2007 - 22:00

The quality level of Bulgarian companies is far from the six sigma level, but so far they have been satisfying requirements. Many manufacturing firms in Bulgaria are registered to ISO 9001, especially those that are working for foreign customers in a sort of outsourcing.

Every year, quality improves because requirements increase, but this improvement is not by 10 percent, as H. James Harrington recommends in the article “Managing Quality in a Global Economy,” by Amy Zuckerman, published in the March 2005 issue of Quality Digest magazine. A lot of Bulgarian firms are deep in financial and marketing crises, and the only way for them to save themselves is to manufacture cheaper goods with higher quality.

The cheapest goods in the world are made in China, and we can not compete with them. But as for quality, we are certainly competitive. Why do I think so? Because we have a surplus of highly educated and skilled specialists and workers. Our manufacturing facilities in Bulgaria are not bad. We are currently open to the whole world, and we know we can manufacture a lot of things, just as do the Germans, French, English, Italians and others.

The problem is that nowadays many Bulgarian firms waste money and time because of bad quality but don’t invest money and efforts for good quality. It’s one of the major reasons for our slow economic development.

The new owners of the factories—after privatization—think they know all and don’t give enough of their attention to quality. Our goods are cheap, and the newborn capitalists think: “At this price, this is good quality.”

Everybody else knows quality has costs, but that truth is not here. Companies’ owners can’t motivate their workers to do their work with high quality. There are no meetings, no training, no qualifications and low pay. If we take a look at management structures, we see that quality managers are lower in the organizational structure than production directors. Nowhere in our country have I heard of someone being a quality director, at the same level as a production director.

Some companies are certified to ISO 9001, but it’s only a shell. The result isn’t bad quality, but quality that is still far from modern requirements. Six sigma, for example, is impossible to talk about.

By the way, I know only two quality gurus, H. James Harrington and A. V. Feigenbaum. I know Harrington from the book The Improvement Process: How America’s Leading Companies Improve Quality (McGraw-Hill, January 1987). Feigenbaum I know from reading Total Quality Control (McGraw-Hill Companies, 3 Rev Sub edition, January 1, 1991). The two books were translated into Russian in 1990. These books have been very useful for me.

I think we Bulgarians need to learn quality as the Japanese did after World War II with the great lecturer W. Edwards Deming. Maybe as students we’ll be as good as the Japanese.

Discuss

About The Author

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Peter Tzaklev

Born in Bulgaria, Peter Tzaklev is a quality coordinator for Enel, Italy’s largest power company. He is trained as a mechanical engineer and economist and has specialized in auditing quality systems. Tzaklev has 37 years of experience as a technologist, chief of production, quality department head and general director.