When you go to the drugstore to buy allergy medication, you are benefitting from more than a century's worth of development in an unsung field: quality assurance and quality control. When you go to the grocery store to buy a cantaloupe, you are relying on graduates of food quality training to make sure that it was grown and packed with respect for food safety rules. But who are the pioneers behind today's food and pharmaceutical testing?
Quality Assurance and Quality Control Pioneer #1: Frederick Winslow Taylor, the father of science-based management (1856-1915)
Frederick Winslow Taylor was a leader of the Efficiency Movement, an early 20th-century movement that aimed to reduce waste in industry and society. He was so influential within this movement - the echoes of which are still felt in pharmaceutical testing and food quality training today - that it is sometimes known as Taylorism.
Taylor was born to a Quaker family in Pennsylvania. He started his working life as a machinist. In his time on the shop floor, he realized that his fellow workers were not working to their fullest capacity. This sparked his interest in the concept of productivity. He went on to promote the application of scientific principles to industrial management, a legacy that endures today in practices that guide food and pharmaceutical testing.
Quality Assurance and Quality Control Pioneer #2: Walter Shewhart, the father of statistical quality control (1891-1967)
This Illinois-born physicist worked in the Inspection Engineering Department of the Western Electric Company. When he joined, quality assurance and control was focused exclusively on inspecting the end product. He introduced a new goal - trying to minimize defects during the manufacturing process - which is still a tenet of pharmaceutical testing and food quality training today.
Quality Assurance and Quality Control Pioneer #3: William Edwards Deming, the father of the quality evolution (1900-1993)
World War II was integral to the industry movement, and Iowa-born statistician W. Edwards Deming was a leading figure of the time. A meeting with Walter Shewhart inspired him to consider the application of statistics. The resulting theories are said to have transformed how industry operates. He is still recognized as a hero in Japan for his post-war work there improving quality in the manufacturing industry.
Quality Assurance and Quality Control Pioneer #4: Joseph Duran, evangelist for quality (1904-2008)
In 1925, Romanian-born, American-raised Juran received training in statistical sampling from the Bell laboratory where he was employed. He would go on to develop a theory that a resistance to new ideas was often a cause of quality assurance and quality control problems.
The next time you are in the drugstore or grocery store, take a moment to reflect on the pioneers behind food and pharmaceutical testing.