Another point is the difference in assumptions between Western European and Japanese engineers. If I talk with Western European engineers, their discussions tend to be “digital.” They always think in terms of black or white and yes or no. This Cartesian way of thinking was quite effective in the natural sciences, where greater simplification is necessary to organize ambiguous data. However, production activity is not that simple.
Basically, manufacturing is a battle against thousands of different possible breakdowns and errors: mistakes in planning schedules, incorrect design, accidental mixture of materials, and so forth. Moreover, machines do not always work uniformly, and factory workers occasionally make mistakes. If these errors accumulate, the result will be a pile of defective goods. The lesson here is that it is easy to fail if you are not aware of all the “gray areas” of production.
We cannot predict where and how such errors will occur, however. Everyone in the factory must cooperate, looking for potential problems and taking care of them in order to prevent future problems. Japan’s strategy for dealing with these issues is the total quality control (TQC) system.
Every nation has the potential for achieving a more affluent society by introducing technology and developing added value in manufactured goods. India succeeded in supplying food for its population, and projections are that India will even export food in the near future. On the other hand, even today 60 percent of the world’s population subsists at a starvation level. Therefore, there should be cooperation and understanding among nations concerning the use of technology as a tool for achieving an improved standard of living for all people. Unfortunately, the fruits of technology are often treated too politically to be used to upgrade the quality of human life. Nations should strive to introduce technology for the purpose of improving tomorrow’s quality of life.
Business Week. January 12, 1987. BW/Harris executive poll: Manufacturing’s rise depends on the dollar, p. 68.
Meadows, D.H., D.L.Meadows, J.Randers, and W.W.Behrens III. 1972. The Limits to Growth. New York: Universe Books.