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Give quality top priority; INDUSTRY: Plea over Brits trailing Japanese rivals.

Byline: By Chris Morley

BIRMINGHAM factories face losing the battle for competitive edge if they fail to hold quality as their top priority, a city industry guru warned.

Former GKN and Massey Ferguson engineer Alan Clark claimed British and US firms were trailing their Japanese rivals because they refused to take quality control seriously.

He held up the example of Toyota as one of the world's top companies which Birmingham firms should seek to emulate.

And the Redditch-based ex-Bauer Springs boss turned consultant also warned that slashing costs across the board risked damage to quality, performance and staff morale.

Mr Clark said Toyota was one of few car manufacturers making a profit and boosting market share because it continued to follow the advice of American quality and management guru the late Dr W Edwards Deming.

He said: "The post-war success of Japan is largely based on their acceptance of Deming's work and their willingness to stop production to sort out quality issues.

"Quality is a fundamental principle on which good management is based, and it needs to be designed into systems from day one - if not you are saddled with the huge cost of checking the end product.

"Deming is a national hero among the Japanese. His approach puts the emphasis on fact-based management and respect for the workforce."

Mr Clark, who runs Key Business Improvement and chairs the Institute of Quality Assurance Deming Special Interest Group, will be holding a workshop for Birminghambased businesses on Wednesday at City Spirit in St Paul's Square.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jan 15, 2007
Words:254
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