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Laércio Antônio Gonçalves Jacovine

Professor at the Department of Forest Engineering at UF-Viçosa


Quality retrospective in Brazil

Co-author: Celso Trindade, Specialist Consultant in Forest Quality and Director of Viveiro Esteio and Viveiro Tocantins

With the Industrial Revolution, the needs of the population grew and, thus, production on an industrial scale, to meet the demand for clothing, food, energy, among many others, forced the creation of industries, appearing, however, the first manufactured products . With large-scale production, product quality problems became a concern for people who purchased them.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a movement called “scientific management” emerged, created by engineer Taylor, who modified the entire production concept, directly affecting the quality of products. Activities were described for each function, and people were trained to perform them in the shortest possible time and were rewarded when they achieved their goals, or punished when they did not achieve a good result.

An important action for the development of quality took place in the early 1920s, when the Bell Telephone company in New York introduced statistical process control to monitor the quality of the assembly of the components of the devices it produced. At that time, the PDCA quality tool began to be used, which would later be widely publicized by Deming.

PDCA is planning, development, control and corrective action . With regard to quality control, it began to use the concept of sampling to evaluate lots of components, replacing the total inspection of these components, which was very expensive and, even so, did not guarantee the total absence of defects. Statistical process control, which focuses on a preventive approach, would promote profound changes in organizations.

The post-World War 2 period provided considerable progress in the quality of products and organizations, mainly for Japan. The American occupation force in the recovery work of the Japanese nation, through the Marshal Plan , sent Messrs. Deming and Juran to Japan, so that they could train members of the administrations of companies and government agencies, in order to use quality in their organizations. as an improvement tool.

At that time, the Japanese product was of poor quality and considered disposable. The Japanese people saw, then, the possibility of recovering their country, through intense investment in quality. A vigorous process was then launched in this direction, and courses were given in schools, factories, universities and radio stations. Many publications appeared on the subject, and, even in newsstands, materials on quality courses were found.

In the 1960s, Japanese products began to make a difference in the market, with increased competitiveness. But they still had to walk a little further. Thus, a great scholar of quality, Professor Ishikawa, created the Quality Control Circles, a movement that integrated the worker into the production system, significantly improving its products. In Brazil, the concept of Quality Control Circles was introduced by the pharmaceutical and aeronautical industries in the 1960s.

In the forestry sector, the concept of quality began to be worked on from the beginning of the 1980s, with the pioneering work at Champion Florestal. The basis of the work was based on an audit system, when teams of auditors inspected the operational fronts, comparing the results obtained with the recommendations established in technical standards.

When an operational deviation was detected, the person responsible for the activity was notified. This responsible person presented a justification in the notification itself, and the other copies were forwarded to the immediate superiors. This methodology reflected on the quality of operations, but caused friction within the company, due to the police character it assumed. Certainly, because of this, this process suffered a “cooling down”.

Based on this system, some companies began to adapt their process, especially those that had a research team and that felt that the recommendations passed on to the operational area were not always followed. However, the reduction and termination of tax incentives and the need for companies to survive in the market led to the reinforcement of research areas and the implementation of programs aimed at quality. This movement was started in several companies, some of which can be mentioned: Copener, CAF, Cimetal, Mannesmann, Ripasa, among others. But, despite everything, the concept of auditing with a police character was practically maintained in all programs implemented until 1986 and, even today, some companies employ this control system.

It is worth mentioning the experience we had in the company where we worked. In 1987, in an attempt to achieve a less harmful alternative to the company, we introduced the concept of self-control or self-management. In fact, the obvious was discovered, that is, who should control the quality of the work would be the executors themselves. At the time, the company's quality structure was made up of 12 technicians, divided into four regional offices.

After much wear and tear on this team and the operating staff, the conclusion was reached that quality control should be the full responsibility of the operating staff, who accepted this proposal. Acceptance by the operational staff was immediate, as they no longer endured so many problems and friction with the company's quality control team.

So, the responsibility for quality was transferred to those who should rightly be concerned and practically the entire team of quality auditors was taken over by the regional offices, leaving only two people to support and facilitate the quality process in the company. ISO 9000 standard was published in Brazil, thus initiating a process of greater exposure of quality concepts. It was from that time on that quality began to be understood a little better.

Until then, what existed in the forest area was very incipient. There was a lot of information in the industrial area, but still no practical application in forestry. From the beginning of the 1990s, several monographs, master's dissertations and doctoral theses were defended, several papers were presented at congresses and numerous technical articles and books were written addressing quality in the forestry area.

For more than thirty years, we have been working on these concepts and techniques with a focus on their expansion, in the vast majority of forestry companies and in academia. We had the pleasure of developing, together with the operational areas, procedures and quality controls, enabling the creation of performance and quality indicators. The concern with quality is growing in forestry companies, but there is still a long way to go until a culture of quality is developed. The results show that the effort undertaken is worth it and that the gains are always rewarding.