Spotlights on for Quality Guru, Genichi Taguchi

The term, “Taguchi Methods” is one of the most popular terms used in the quality management industry. Taguchi Methods are statistical methods that aim to reduce cost and decrease failures in product design. Aside from statistics, Taguchi Methods emphasize the importance of research and development to achieve top-notch quality control.

The man behind the highly successful quality control method is Genichi Taguchi. Dubbed as the “Father of Quality Engineering,” Taguchi helped Japan cope during World War II where sources were limited and hard to come by. His Taguchi Methods provided solutions that helped in maximizing resources and reduce cost.

Born in January 1, 1924, Taguchi was exposed to textile industry at an early age thanks to his family’s kimono business, Takamachi, Japan’s kimono capital. He became fascinated with statistics after being drafted during the war. Taguchi’s passion for statistics intensified under the supervision of Japan’s finest statistician, Professor Masuyama. After the war, Taguchi worked for the Japanese Ministry of Public Health and Welfare where he helped in conducting the country’s first research on health and nutrition. Taguchi later on joined the Institute of Statistical Mathematics where his expertise in statistics shone.

But it’s his job as developer for a telephone switching system at the Electrical Communication Laboratory that led him into formulating his famous methodology. His innovation helped him gain popularity in the United States and other countries. Popular brands like Toyota, Ford, Xerox, and Boeing all adapted the Taguchi Method. In the 1980s, Taguchi’s influence reached the Ford Motor Co. He was invited by the automobile giant to present seminars to their top executives. His work for the Electrical Communication Laboratory also brought him the prestigious Deming Price in the 1960.

Because of his contributions, Taguchi was hailed as the Father of Quality Engineering. Below are some of his most notable contributions in the quality control arena:

  • Robustness – There are instances that are simply cannot be controlled. Taguchi is aware that products that can withstand any obstacle are always needed. That’s why he formulated robustness wherein the process or the product can work regardless of external influences.
  • The Lost Function – Taguchi formulated an equation that pertains to the customer’s value of the product as its quality decreases. The Lost Function helped various businesses predict the amount of money that they’re losing whenever there’s changes in their products’ quality
  • Orthogonal Arrays and Linear Graphs – Taguchi successfully provided a way in which noise factors can be identified quickly and can be excluded to the data analysis of a process or a product. Orthogonal arrays and linear graphs helped in saving money and time.

In 1986, Genichi Taguchi received the Indigo Ribbon from the Emperor of Japan and the Willard F Rockwell Medal by the International Technologies Institute. Aside from his contributions in quality control, Taguchi also became the executive director of the American Supplier Institute, the director of the Japan Industrial Technology Institute, and an honorary professor at Nanjing Institute of Technology in China.

Genichi Taguchi died in Tokyo, Japan on June 2, 2012 at the age of 88.