Total quality management in automotive manufacturing.
Total Quality Management (TQM) has become a term associated with a holistic management approach to business processes with the aim of obtaining efficiency and customer satisfaction. Today the South African automotive industry faces the challenges of globalisation which necessitates a strong focus on quality and productivity achievement. The aim of this study is to investigate the status of TQM implementation in the automotive manufacturing company based in Durban. The sample used in this research was made up of 101 fulltime management employees in two manufacturing plants. More than half (58%) of the participants had sufficient work experience (10 years and more), 36% had 6 to 10 years work experience and only 6% with less than 6 years‟ work experience. Most participants were from the production department (57.4%), other departments included in the survey were quality (10.9%), logistics (11.9%), maintenance (12.9%) and engineering (6.9%). Collected data was analysed by means of various statistical tools including frequencies and means, correlation tests, regression analysis and t-tests. Six TQM principles were tested and evaluated for the degree of possible implementation in the company. The results showed that there were strong relationships between empowerment & motivation and employee involvement. The study revealed that continuous improvement activities strengthened process management and that employee involvement in the automotive company was predicted by the level of their motivation. The results also found that senior management were more committed to meeting production schedules than quality objectives. It is recommended management should focus on activities that would motivate employees to own their work environment such as education and training. It is also recommended that employees be involved in decision-making and be given opportunity to use company resources in order to carryout corrective action themselves instead of that being a privilege of those in possession of company resources. The study later revealed that some TQM principles were firmly entrenched but the general management were not aware of these principles as individually constituting the right to be implemented if the company was to extract maximum quality and productivity benefits out of TQM. The study will benefit the organisation by bringing into attention the management aspects that requires improvement. The study may also become a basis for TQM framework development for the South African context.