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Armand Feigenbaum: Biography and Main Contributions

Armand Feigenbaum: Biography and Main Contributions

 Armand Feigenbaum  (1920-2014) was an American businessman, entrepreneur, and expert in quality control concepts. He is recognized for developing and implementing the concepts of total quality control. For Feigenbaum, ensuring quality control was the responsibility of the entire business organization.

Armand's theoretical and practical proposals emerged during the 1950s and 1960s, having a great influence on the business and industrial scene of the United States and other nations such as Japan. He received a large number of awards and distinctions that have earned him international recognition.

Armand Feigenbaum Biography

Armand also developed in a lesser way a concept known as a hidden plant. According to this concept, in every factory a certain proportion of its capacity is wasted because of not achieving what is required the first time.

Apart from his relationship with the business and commercial area, Armand also cultivated an extensive philanthropic career with his brother.

They participated in a series of civic gestures that led to the creation of knowledge centers and forums that would give continuity to Feigenbaum's legacy, and that would allow the development of new knowledge with the same freedom.


Early years and childhood

Armand Vallin Feigenbaum was born in New York City in 1922, and died 92 years later, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He developed his career fully within the United States, and his results allowed him to gain international exposure.

Little is known about his childhood and family life. Most of the references that are known are from Armand finishing his university studies and joining the labor market.

University and career

He receives his undergraduate degree from Union College, then completes a master's degree in engineering and a doctorate in economics, both from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

He began his professional career at the General Electric company. There Armand would rise to the position of quality control manager for the entire organization nationwide. Armand would spend a decade of his life in this position, between 1958 and 1968.

During his time at General Electric, Armand began to develop his first concepts about total quality control, first through an article published in 1946, and then through the first edition of a book that would be published five years later.

Subsequently, Armand left General Electric and founded his own company: Compañía de Sistemas Generales. He was president of this company and continued to publish works on the dynamics of quality control. Armand ran this company until his death.

Main contributions

- Total quality control

Armand develops this concept under a systemic approach, in which all the parties involved influence the result.

Seen from an industrial perspective, Armand proposes that the final quality level of a product is not the exclusive responsibility of the production department that was in charge of its creation, but that other departments are integrated into the process.

With this proposal, Feigenbaum aspires to the involvement and effective integration of all organizational levels to improve quality and service, always striving for excellence and satisfaction of the end consumer.

For Feigenbaum, total quality control is an "effective system that integrates development, maintenance and quality improvement efforts in various groups of the organization, to allow production and services at more economical levels that allow complete consumer satisfaction" .

- Quality costs

Having exposed his concept of total quality control, Armand developed the quality costs, necessary to guarantee a quality product that can be offered to the customer.

These are classified according to their origin and are those related to prevention, revaluation, and internal and external failures.

Prevention costs

The prevention costs are those managed to avoid failures in the production processes, as well as to avoid that an error can produce higher costs when solving it.

To measure these production costs, preventive measurements are made through product reviews, quality reports, improvement projects, among other actions.

Revaluation costs

They originate when carrying out product measurements, as well as the inspection and measurement of stages that go from the raw materials to be used, the updating of inventories and the measurement of tests for production.

Internal failure costs

The costs of internal failures are those that arise during manufacturing, all that middle stage in which the product is involved before going to market.

These include waste and failures of machinery or of the product itself, for example.

External failure costs

They occur once the product has already reached the end consumer, and revolve around price variations, claims and returns that may occur.

- “The steps towards quality” by Feigenbaum

Armand illustrates his concept of quality based on other principles, subjecting it to scenarios that enhance its effectiveness.

For this he developed certain fundamental steps for the application of his methodology, known as "steps towards quality":

1- Mandate towards quality

The first of these steps is the “quality mandate” and focuses on leadership. A good level of quality requires careful planning.

This step seeks to overcome traditional approaches to quality, which measured their failure and failure. For Armand, a constant effort must be made to maintain an adequate level of quality.

2- Old quality tactics

The second step corresponds to the "old quality tactics", which involve the integration of the different participating departments of an organization.

3- Command of the organization

The third step is the “command of the organization”; the mandate as a fundamental piece to guarantee quality, manifested through permanent discipline at all levels of the company.

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