1.0 Introduction

The concept of quality is often complex by nature; there is no single unique definition in existence to describe quality. However, if a product encompasses the required quality levels, it is guaranteed that the merchandise will successfully fulfil specific market requirements and subsequently enjoy superior market acceptance levels. However, competitors are also likely to manufacture similar merchandise and these products will naturally need to comply with the required quality standards that are affiliated with such offerings (Asker and Cantillon, 2009). Quality defines many features in a product including that of performance as well as durability aspects.

Therefore, the above discussions depict the need to maintain appropriate quality levels, to achieve relevant outcomes. This is applicable in the case of cement products as well. Cement is the basic adhesive that is used in the construction industry and is one of the primary ingredients (Gustafsson, Nilsson and Johnson, 2003). Thus, the product requires to be utilized with the view to achieving appropriate benefits and maximum results thereof (Cairns, De Andrade and Landon, 2016). The cement manufacturers require to comply with international quality specifications as well as adhere to the needs of the clients. Such quality outcomes are necessary to maintain the quality outcomes envisaged of the products.

Maintenance of quality parameters of cement products is paramount, since this will ensure that the parties are positioned to achieve positive results and maximize benefits thereof. Therefore, quality plays a significant role, from the point of raw material to the final product in the cement manufacturing process (Rönnbäck, 2012). Resultantly, cement products which meet the required quality standards will subsequently certify, that buildings constructed with such material conform to mandatory quality standards, and thereby achieve maximum results (da Fonseca, 2010). Thus, the role of maintaining quality parameters remains vital, to achieve the envisaged long-term business targets. Therefore, if the company fails in quality, the customers are bound to select a competitor product that will provide them with higher benefits than that of Cement products.

The Cement industry comprises of several stakeholders; the customers are unlikely to be competent to ascertain quality implications and may select different brands without any technical evaluation. However, the consultants are likely to reach conclusions based on results achieved from lab tests. This is a challenge for the organizations that are operating in the field of manufacturing cement, since they need to ensure that the brand is positioned to demonstrate the expected performance. They will act as the influencers for those who purchase the cement products. This will be the mechanism that is likely to drive the demand for cement products in the markets.

2.0 Orientation

2.1 Literature review

Quality is the ability of the product to meet the expectations of the customers; the customers possess a certain level of expectations from a product and therefore the companies will need to ensure they cater to these specific needs. The customer expects a particular product, which will be able to perform consistent with the needs they envisage and subsequently achieve the expected results. (Carestea, Paun and Paun, 2014). This will provide appropriate benefits that will drive relevant outcomes.

Organizations in general possess their own approaches to steer quality management processes. Meanwhile, these quality management processes will indicate whether they will be able to drive the envisaged growth within the parties and the markets. The quality management practices will require to be comprehensive by nature and the key aspects of quality development need to be identified (Warsame, 2013). Such an approach will ensure, that quality outcomes are achieved based on the needs of the markets in the long run.

The organizations will need to identify and develop appropriate qualities envisaged of the product; the product in other words will need to comply with specific quality expectations and ensure that they allow the users to benefit appropriately. Meanwhile, identifying correct quality parameters of the product, will drive the organization to initiate several internal and external arrangements to achieve the desired results (Warsame, 2013). They will have to work with the customers as well as the suppliers to a large extent to ensure that they retain the quality aspects, since it is the customers who are aware of their quality needs whilst the suppliers are also in a position to participate in the quality management process (Patyal and Koilakuntla, 2015).

The organizations are likely to have introduced certain quality checks in place internally; such initiatives will ensure that the product meets the required quality at each stage-gate. If the product fails the quality inspection, this indicates that the product has failed to meet the required quality aspirations. Thus, the result is likely to be negative in nature and the product will not be able to progress to the next stage of the processing due to encountering these limitations. Therefore, this is an area of challenge for the organizations and they have to overcome these issues effectively. Reduction in quality defects is the best approach which will contribute towards resolving of this issue (Wiengarten, Fynes and Onofrei, 2013).

Meanwhile, it is important to understand what are the key areas that drive the quality aspects of products and how they can be achieved. The organizations will need to identify the specifics of the products and the services that are required and how quality will impact these products and the services in the long run. This knowledge will ensure that they can guarantee the quality of the operations are maintained and results are achieved based on the market outcomes (Gustafsson, Nilsson and Johnson, 2003). Thus, the key aspects that drive quality within the organization will require to be studied in detail.

Meanwhile, Sivapalan and Jebarajakirthy (1997) elaborate the role played by external parties such as suppliers in the context of quality management. For instance, customers will demand the suppliers to provide quality products, according to the specific needs they have outlined. Thus, the suppliers will ensure that the customers are positioned to receive quality material, which they may subject to further processing to reach enhanced outcomes in terms of product needs. However, the customers have to specify the quality that they require and ensure that they have appropriate quality checks specified, to evaluate the quality of the material received from the suppliers.

The role played by employees in quality management is also important. Possessing the correct focus in terms of quality will enable employees to provide suggestions for improving the overall quality levels (Wiengarten, Fynes and Onofrei, 2013). Therefore, organizations are compelled to accept the suggestions offered by the employees and implement these solutions to achieve appropriate results affiliated with quality related aspects.

When the internal factors are taken into consideration, one of the key factors that requires to be scrutinized is the quality of the internal processes. The internal processes will need to focus on meeting the quality standards that customers demand. This will enable the organization to process the products by focusing on the exact quality parameters envisaged and maximize the benefits to the customers (Raghunathan, Rao and Solis, 1997). The quality focus of the process will ensure that the company will be able to provide the customers with a quality product. Meanwhile, the designated quality checks, the status of the machinery as well as maintenance activities will all contribute to determine the eventual quality of the processes.

The quality culture is another aspect which reveals whether the organization is considerably focused on quality aspects; this in other words indicate whether the organizational culture embraces quality as being an integral part of the organization’s value system. Meanwhile, the employees are committed to ensure that all activities undertaken, endeavor to meet the required quality standards (Patyal and Koilakuntla, 2015). This quality commitment will enhance the outcomes in terms of quality and ensure that required benefits are achieved consistent with market expectations. This highlights that quality culture is an important aspect of consideration which will contribute towards rectifying these issues in the long term (Gustafsson, Nilsson and Johnson, 2003).

The organizations may utilize various techniques to ensure that they adhere to the required quality levels; these techniques include approaches such as total quality management (TQM) etc., these could be some of the approaches that organizations are likely to use to improve the quality levels of the outcomes. Thus, maintaining the required focus on quality is of primary importance to the organization to ensure that the envisaged outcomes are achieved and beneficial results are reached (Fynes and Voss, 2002). Meanwhile, there could be various internal techniques that are used to ensure the quality of the products are maintained as well. These techniques are important since they could indicate where the quality defects have arisen, and understand how the company could rectify these issues.

The customer quality needs are another area that requires to be evaluated. The customers may desire certain quality needs and the organizations might have to ensure that they cater to these specific quality needs. Equipping oneself with suitable capabilities to maintain and address these issues and thereby gain the required benefits by maintaining these quality needs remains important on the long run (Cortada and Woods, 1996). Meanwhile, customer quality expectations will have to be met through the quality programs that the organizations are likely to have implemented. This will ensure the organizations specifically cater to the needs of the customers and the quality expectations of the customers are met as required (Gloet, 2002).

All these aspects can be applied in the case of Cement; the company has a set of suppliers and resultantly, the former requires to ensure that they evaluate appropriate quality parameters offered by the suppliers. On the other hand, the company possesses a customer base and they will need to work towards meeting the quality outcomes envisaged by the customer base. Thus, overall products and services will achieve appropriate results and eventually benefit from the relevant outcomes in the future. The company will be able to enhance the quality of the products in the long run, due to possessing the capability of meeting customer needs. Meanwhile, the internal processes of the company are yet another key aspect of consideration as well. All these areas will ensure that Cement cement will provide the customers with a product that is consistent with the expectations they envisage. Further, the product will also be able to conform to the local as well as international standards.

2.2 Case study – Cement

2.2.1. Background

Cement Lanka is a cement manufacturing company; the company is a subsidiary of the Cement Group which is a global cement manufacturing operation. The company operates two main plants namely; Palavi and Ruhunu plants. They currently offer a production capacity of 2.3 million tons of cement per annum. The company also employs approximately 660 employees covering both the above plants. Meanwhile, less than 50% of the raw material requirement is sourced from Sri Lanka whilst the balance is imported from various countries for the cement manufacturing process (Cement, 2017). They distribute cement in packs of 50kg primarily. The company has established a comprehensive and a well penetrated distribution network in the country which enables them reach customer locations with minimum difficulties.

Cement Lanka is one of the largest manufacturers of cement and cement-related products in Sri Lanka; the company’s products are reputed for its quality standards. It is important to note that Sri Lanka has several locally produced as well as imported cement products in the market, and the quality standards maintained is one of the important factors that lead to the recommendation of the products and market acceptance of these items. Cement as a company is one of the larger global cement manufacturing firms. Thus, the company can use the experience they have acquired globally and the facilities they possess locally to offer the customers with a unique set of products which will specifically meet the needs of the customers.

2.2.2. Research problem

The quality of the raw materials remains vital to the parties to manufacture the products and the services that meet the requirements. If the suppliers fail to provide products that meet the needs of the manufacturing company, they will not be able to manufacture products which meet customer requirements (Rönnbäck, 2012). This leads to failure in an all-round context. The customers are unwilling to accept such products and services. Thus, the company will not be able to effectively grow in a competitive market space (da Fonseca, 2010). This is one of the reasons that highlight the importance of adhering to appropriate levels of quality in the future (Asker and Cantillon, 2009).

The company is aware that there has been an increase in the number of rejections where the raw material quality was concerned,over the past few quarters. This indicates that while the company believes that they have communicated the quality parameters of the products they envisage to their suppliers; the latter has failed to completely adhere to the requirements that have been specified.

Table 2.1 – Rejection percentage of the orders

Rejection percentage6.5%7.2%6.2%8.1%10.4%11.5%12.3%12.1%

Source: Operations data, 2017

The above Table 2.1 highlights the fact that there have been several instances of rejections and the percentage of defects continue to grow. Higher rejection indicates reduction of the operations related efficiencies. Quality related correction costs are high if the end product does not meet the specified standards. Therefore, Cement needs to invest in additional quality checks. All these have a negative impact on the cost of the operation.

The company has to identify the justifications behind these rejections in quality and ensure that the problem is resolved. The target would be to reduce the quality related rejections at each stage. The correct steps will ensure that the overall quality levels of the products are improved.

2.2.3 Purpose of the project

The purpose of the research is to evaluate the current management practices related to quality aspects and identify the reason for the considerable increase in quality rejects. This will lead to providing recommendations that will enable the implementation of improvements to the quality of outcomes.

2.2.4. Significance of the project

The findings of the study are related to Cement Lanka; therefore, this will enable Cement Lanka to implement these suggestions and improve the overall performance levels of the company in the future. Thus, the company will be able to improve the quality of the products they manufacture by adhering to the recommendations of the study. Further, this is an area where academic research is scarce and the study would add to the body of knowledge available.

2.2.5. Research questions

The main research questions requires to be identified; they will indicate the direction that the study should take and what type of outcomes that they could reach thereof.

  • To critically evaluate the current quality management practices and identify their strengths and weaknesses
  • To determine the causes for the emergence of high-quality rejects
  • To recommend strategies to improve quality at Cement

3.0 Research methodology

3.1 Methods

The study requires to extract information regarding the company and the quality practices; the quality practices have to be explored in detail and the relationships between these practices and the issues require to be identified. This will enable one to determine, the causes and effects prevalent (Cairns, De Andrade and Landon, 2016). Resultantly, this exercise will reveal the key quality practices available and the steps the company is taking to maintain these quality practices in place.

The study has to identify the main quality related practices in detail and evaluate the justifications associated with such strategies. The appropriate approach is to conduct a qualitative study; since qualitative studies facilitate the collection of information in-depth, to achieve appropriate insights regarding this area (Malhotra, 2001). Therefore, the qualitative approach to the study will indicate the main reasons influencing a certain scenario and how this could impact the overall outcomes affiliated with the study in detail. Therefore, the insights of the study remain useful in reaching conclusive results thereof.

The study uses a case study strategy. The study is based on a single company and a case that is limited to this instance; hence this becomes a case study; the findings from the study can be collated as learnings and utilized by other organizations (Malhotra, 2001). However, the main issue with this approach being that the findings of the study are limited to a single case. Therefore, the case could be general by nature and the findings can be implemented in situations of several other organizations as well.

3.2 Data collection

3.2.1 Secondary data

This is the information that is already collected and available for the study; the company has clear details regarding the quality policies and the practices envisaged. Further, the company has collected details regarding the quality issues and the problems they are faced with. These remain some of the criteria that could be used to evaluate the quality issues.

3.2.2. Primary data

Primary data is the data that is collected for the needs of this study. In this instance, the semi structured interviews are used for the purpose of collecting data. They will provide useful qualitative insights regarding the quality practices and the key benefits affiliated with the processes. This will enable the identification of the cause and effect relationships of the issues (Malhotra, 2001). The following are the proposed participants who will engage in the study.

Table 4.1 – Participants to the study

Head of quality department01Responsible for overall quality department operations; ensures that the products meet the required quality levels.
Head of operations department01Responsible for operations and management of efficiencies. The quality parameters are determined with the participation of head of operations.
Assistant quality controllers02They are the parties who monitor the quality in each batch of cement that has been manufactured.
Assistant plant managers02They have to manage the plants and ensure that the output meets the required quality levels as specified.
Operations supervisors02They have to work to ensure that operations follow the needed focus and achieve appropriate outcomes.

Source: Author developed, 2018

3.3 Ethics

When considered Australian national risk categories, this project can be considered as a low risk project. The project will collect the information from the respondents and this will create a temporary discomfort for the respondents. The study will take the steps to mitigate any of the discomfort factors affiliated with these areas. The respondents have provided their consent (using AIB’s research consent form) for the interviews. The respondents are informed of their rights; they can exit from the discussion if they feel discomfort. The data is maintained with the required confidentiality and all the respondents are treated in ethical and the fair manner.

4.0 Presentation of the findings

This is the section where the findings of the study are presented; meanwhile, the findings are categorized into two main areas namely; the findings from the secondary research as well as the observations made from primary research activities which has been undertaken. These findings are useful to evaluate how the company engages the quality practices to reach intended long-term results which they intend achieving.

4.1 Secondary research

4.1.1. Quality policy

The company has a comprehensively documented quality policy in place. the quality policy is a document that is available to all the employees in hard and soft copy forms. The employees are given a copy of the document and they are expected to comprehensively study the details of the quality policy of the company. The following are the key aspects included in the quality policy of the company.

  • The company is expecting to provide the customers with a product that specifically exceeds global and local standards and the employees are expected to comply with the quality parameters which will meet these expectations.
  • The company has to maintain quality checks that would ensure the products that are accepted from the production line are 100% quality compliant.
  • The suppliers are selected based on their ability to meet specified quality parameters, which are determined after evaluating the results of several tests; subsequently, they are provided with long-term contracts
  • The exact quality specifications have to be provided to the suppliers to ensure the products meet the required quality needs
  • All final products have to be defect free and 100% consistent with the needs of quality specified by the organization

Thus, the above aspects indicate the main quality policies in place and thereby ensure that they contribute towards achieving appropriate impacts in the quality management process.

4.1.2. Personnel in quality

The number of personnel who are engaged full time with the quality process will also indicate the extent to which the company is focused on ensuring the quality of the operations. This will indicate as to how the capacity has changed in the quality management areas and what type of benefits that the company could achieve.

Figure 4.1 – Number of employees working in quality related jobs

Source: Operations data, 2017

The above chart highlight that the general trend is focused on increasing the workforce engaged in quality areas. Resultantly, the intake has almost doubled, within a period of two years. Therefore, the company has concentrated on significantly improving the quality levels and thus the staff strength in this area has increased.

4.1.3. Quality rejection loss

Due to the considerable rejections experienced in quality, the company is making a financial loss; or incurring additional expenditure related to this area. However, the quality rejection loss is less provided that rejection occurred immediately after the quality defect took place. Resultantly, this will reduce the effective correction costs. The following chart depicts the quality rejection loss that the company has suffered during the past few quarters.

Figure 4.2 – The quality rejection loss incurred by the company

Source: Operations data, 2017

The above chart depicts that while the number of quality rejects have increased, the actual quality rejection loss has decreased. Resultantly, the company is detecting several quality issues at phases immediately after they have occurred. This will ensure that the problem is resolved by incurring minimum costs. This is the reason that the above chart highlights that the overall quality rejection related costs are on the decrease.

4.1.4. Wastage

Wastage is not necessarily a part of the quality issue; however, over 90% of the wastage of the products occur due to quality rejects. This is due to the fact that products rejected owing to quality issues, are likely to incur additional investment, in the context of rectifying the subject. Thus, wastage remains another concern which requires evaluation. Meanwhile, solving these wastage related aspects remain important as well. The following chart indicates the wastage percentage of the products during the past few quarters.

Figure 4.3 – Wastage rates


Source: Operations data, 2017

The above chart highlights that the actual wastage rates of the company have also declined over the past few years. Therefore, despite the rates of wastage having effectively increased, this does not reveal the full story. The company has been able to reduce the overall costs affiliated with quality issues and ensure that the overall outcomes are improved in the context of cost reduction as well as other areas.

4.1.5. Secondary data summary

The secondary data indicates that while the fact remains the number of quality rejects have increased, it is also apparent that the wastage levels and the cost of quality levels have decreased during the same period. This is primarily due to the fact that quality issues were detected promptly and the actual rectification costs affiliated with these quality matters were lower than the previous occurrences. Thus, the company by increasing the personnel in the quality field with the view to increasing quality related outcomes and maximizing the benefits thereof, has been achieved partially. Thus, this is considered as a positive development in this instance.

4.2 Interview findings

In this instance, eight interviews were held; one is with the head of the quality department while the other is with the head of operations. Likewise, other interviews were held with several other parties who were engaged in the operations and the quality departments. Meanwhile, the findings of the interviews were discussed.

4.2.1. Interview with the head of operations

  • Stages of the operations – the first stage involves the receipt of material, the materials are subsequently subject to a purification process. Thereafter, the material is processed and mixed with chemicals. Once this is undertaken, there is the grinding stage and further mixing of chemicals. At this stage the clinker is changed into cement. Then the product is packaged into bags.
  • Quality management process – At each stage, a very clear set of quality expectations have been outlined. For each batch that is processed, a series of tests are undertaken at the conclusion of the process, to ensure the required quality standards are met. Therefore, if these tests have failed, the product is re-processed if possible or removed from the process altogether.
  • Contribution on to quality – these processes ensures that each batch is complying with a set of guidelines at each stage; this is respecting the quality guidelines in place. The eventual result is achieving the appropriate quality which conform to the needs of the organization.
  • Improving the quality – the quality department was strengthened by providing them with additional staff and systems. They were also provided training. Meanwhile the capacity of the tests was increased and the efficiencies of the results were also increased. The results were positive in this context, to achieve appropriate outcomes.
  • Quality related rejects – the current rejects have increased due to the strengthening of the quality process and the stringent quality parameters adopted by the company. Therefore, the quality reject rates are changing due to the increased scope and the rigid quality tests which have been implemented.
  • Quality improvements – the quality levels require to be further improved; therefore, the company is seeking to further enhance modernization of the machinery they currently possess whilst the company continues to work with trainers to improve the employee quality focus. Meanwhile the employees are empowered to provide their suggestions to improve the quality related processes as well.

4.2.2. Interviews with head of quality

  • Primary function – the role of the department is required to ensure that an appropriate level of quality is maintained with the products. They are responsible for undertaking the required quality tests at each stage, to guarantee that the product complies with specific quality considerations.
  • Types of checks – at the manufacturing stage, the quality checks largely concentrate on determining the chemical composition of the products and the texture of the mix. If the chemical composition is irregular, the batch is rejected. However, subsequently, this changes to physical checking of the weight and the outlook of the pack towards the latter stage. Any package which looks irregular is removed.
  • Maintaining quality – At each stage, the company will require to maintain the quality of the products effectively. Therefore, relevant tests are undertaken at each stage whilst every test result is marked and recorded. This will ensure that the product complies with the required quality levels.
  • Adequacy of quality focus – This is not the case; since quality issues continue to exist which can be resolved with proactive quality management. Therefore, proactive quality management improvements are being undertaken, to further achieve appropriate results.
  • Improving quality focus – each employee should be assigned a set of quality objectives and the organization must work with the employees and guide them to reach these quality purposes. This will improve the overall quality levels of the company.
  • Proactive quality improvement – Building a quality culture, proactive quality management implementation with the suppliers and employee through training are the main methods that will develop the required quality practices within the company.
  • Reactive quality improvements – To achieve optimum results, the test samples should be improved and the test methods refined as well. This will enable the testing process to provide accurate data that are likely to ensure that required insights are gained through the process consistent with market requirements.
  • Quality improvements – This will improve the customer test results and the outcomes will lead to the consultants effecting superior recommendations to the customers, regarding the company. This will lead to increased demand for the products in the market.

4.2.3. Interviews with the other staff

  • Satisfaction with the quality levels – the respondents have given an average of 7.8 in a scale of one to ten on the level of satisfaction that they receive in terms of the quality focus of the company. Resultantly, the employees in general are considerably satisfied with the initiations.
  • Key strengths – the company has the required staff and systems to ensure that they maintain the expected quality levels. They have also been able to ensure that they introduce the required systems to the parties and achieve appropriate outcomes consistent with market expectations.
  • Key weaknesses – the company has not been able to reduce the actual quality rejections totally. Resultantly, while the company needs to evaluate how to reduce these aspects, they are yet to achieve this target.
  • Participation – the employees are given the opportunity to express their point of view. They also work in a manner where they ensure the work area is error free and would have minimum quality issues and considerations affiliated with the outcomes. Thus, the above areas contribute positively towards quality development.
  • Overall quality improvement – the company requires to work towards improving overall quality levels associated with the company. Providing suggestions to improve the quality and ensuring the work area is error free are ways in which one can contribute.
  • Quality improvements – The quality improvements will enhance the product quality and attract several customers. In order to achieve this, the company has to develop several proactive features for instance, training of employees and modernization of the production process. Meanwhile, working with the suppliers to improve quality is also useful.

5.0 Implications and recommendations

5.1 Literature and the findings

Carestea, Paun and Paun (2014) have identified that quality is one of the key aspects of consideration when organizational management aspects are being considered; the customers will need to provide products which will match the specific needs of the customers. Meanwhile, Patyal and Koilakuntla (2015) have indicated that there is the need to evaluate suppliers to ensure that they are capable of maintain the required level of quality with the products they manufacture. This highlights the need for the company to remain focused on quality and ensure the relevant quality parameters are offered to the customer.

Gustafsson, Nilsson and Johnson (2003) identified the need to determine appropriate quality measures which are implemented through the process, since the results affiliated with these measures are likely to be positive. Meanwhile, Sivapalan and Jebarajakirthy (1997) highlights the role of the external parties in quality management while Wiengarten, Fynes and Onofrei (2013) are confident that internal measures will drive the overall quality levels. Thus, the above aspects remain some of the main areas that drive the quality and maximize the benefits thereof. Resultantly, organizations who maintain the required quality levels will contribute towards achieving positive long-term outcomes.

Thus, the literature review highlights the importance associated with quality maintenance and the usage of different and effective techniques thereof. Meanwhile, possessing appropriate quality maintenance approaches will maximize the results in the organizational context. These outcomes imply that relevant results could be reached to meet long-term expectations envisaged. Whilst, benefits are high in terms of costs, the image of the company is likely to be improved, due to the introduction of quality improvements.

5.2 Key learnings

The study has identified a very interesting set of insights; the company has observed that the quality rejects have increased during the past few quarters. However, this did not translate into a high level of quality rejection costs. Meanwhile, the company has increased the employee cadre in the quality department and successfully increased the overall comprehensiveness of the quality checks that are existing already. The results were eventually positive and the company has been able to identify the methodology to be adopted, to improve the overall quality of the company.

Meanwhile, the management has identified the need for improving proactive as well as reactive quality aspects; the areas suggested to be improved include the training of employees, providing quality assurance with additional facilities and offering each employee added responsibility in the quality assurance areas. The results were positive in the context of quality development within the organization.

On the other hand, it is important to ensure that reactive steps are taken to continuously improve the organizational outcomes. For this purpose, the study will evaluate the need for acquiring additional modern test equipment as well as tighter controls over these systems. This will ensure the required outcomes are reached by the parties. This is an area of importance and beneficial results could be reached thereof.

Thus, the above changes could guarantee that the overall process is enhanced and the benefits improved. The results are likely to be positive thereof.

5.3 Conclusion

The above outcomes depict that the company has to consider the maintenance of the required quality procedures. There can be internal and external procedures in place in this context. However, it is also important to safeguard the quality of the products. Therefore, it is vital to maintain an appropriate level of quality which will eventually ensure that the products are able to meet customer needs. In the case of Cement, the company has been able to detect several quality issues due to the enhancement of the quality program. This is certainly a positive sign. However, it is evident that the company has to take proactive and reactive measures to reduce quality issues and reach beneficial results.


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Appendix A – Individual interviews

Individual interviews: A critical evaluation of quality management practices at Cement Lanka
Meeting data:


Start time:


Meeting leader:

Elapsed time:

Participation data:

Number of participants:

Demographics of the participants:

Length of tenure at Cement Lanka:

Good morning, my name is ………… and I am ………………………
PurposeThank you for participating at the interview

I am conducting the above study as partial fulfillment of the requirements for reading for the Masters of Business Administration……..

I am currently studying the quality practices at Cement Lanka to identify whether the company is positioned to mitigate the quality issues and rejects.

The purpose of the interview is to identify the quality practices as well as determine your perception regarding quality rejects and issues. Further, your recommendations to eliminate this problem require to be undertood as well.

ConfidentialityYou have been selected for the interview as you will be able to provide useful information regarding the study

All information which has been collected will remain confidential and your identity will not be divulged to a third party

The information thus collected will be used for academic purposes only

I will be recording the contents of the interview, for verification and determination of accuracy.

Interview questions for Head of Operation
  1. What are the main stages of the operation?
  2. Can you advice the quality management practices adopted at each stage?
  3. Do you consider these practices have contributed towards improving the overall quality levels?
  4. What are the strategic steps that you require to take towards improving the quality levels of the operations?
  5. Do you observe whether the quality related rejects have increased or decreased?
  6. What would you consider is the main reason for these changes to occur in the reject rates?
  7. Do you consider the quality needs require to be further improved?
  8. What steps require to be taken to improve the overall quality levels?
Interview questions for Head of Quality
  1. Can you identify the primary function of your department?
  2. What are the types of quality checks you accommodate?
  3. How do you maintain quality at each stage of the operation?
  4. Do you believe that there is adequate quality focus being undertaken, in operations management?
  5. How would you suggest one could improve the quality focus?
  6. What recommendations could you suggest in terms of proactive steps, which could be initiated to improve overall quality levels?
  7. What recommendations could you provide in terms of reactive steps to be undertaken?
  8. What are the likely benefits of quality improvements initiated by the company?
Interview questions to the others
  1. To which level are you satisfied with the quality practices of the company?
  2. What are the main strengths that you observe in these quality practices?
  3. What are the main weaknesses affiliated with these quality practices?
  4. How do you participate in the quality improvement practices?
  5. What steps are undertaken by the company, to improve the overall quality levels of the organization?
  6. How do you observe the quality improvements will impact the company?
  7. What recommendations can you provide which will improve the quality levels?
Wrap-upThank you for your time and invaluable insights offered

Appendix B – Organizational consent form