Before we get into the explanation of what quality control is, it is important to understand that a significant aspect of this is establishing well-defined controls. Quality control is the process implemented to ensure that a manufactured product meets a defined set of standards or criteria. Quality control is different from quality assurance.
While both are parts of the overall quality management program in a company, quality assurance focuses on the fulfillment of quality requirements whereas quality control focuses on fulfilling quality requirements. The actual overall inspection of all the set criteria so that client or customer requirements are met is what effective quality control is all about.
All businesses irrespective of their size should have a quality management system in place to stay relevant in a competitive market scenario. Companies use the quality control procedure as a means to evaluate, maintain, and improve product quality. To put it in simple terms, the two main goals of quality control are to ascertain the uniformity of products and to reduce the possibility of errors or inconsistencies with the product.
Quality should be the cornerstone of every business to remain successful and deliver products that consistently meet the expectations of customers. Before getting into what is the purpose of quality control, it is integral to understand that customer satisfaction is always the major consideration for every company that is into manufacturing.
While the main purpose of quality control is to ensure the delivery of standardized products every single time, these are the other goals:
● To reduce defects or quality issues arising unexpectedly as fixing faulty products will
only lead to extra costs affecting the bottom line of the business
● To always maintain a strict quality standard that is acceptable for the customers as
the credibility of the business can be affected otherwise
● To ensure uninterrupted production by catching flaws or problems in the raw
materials and in the manufacturing processes. Catching errors in a timely manner can save the business huge costs
● To suggest further improvements by studying the methods and processes of
● To aid in analyzing the root cause or origin of the inconsistencies or errors in the product
● To devise steps that can be taken to rectify the quality control issues and arrive at the desired product quality
Quality control is not a universal process and the types of quality control methods employed by companies are based on the industry to which the specific products belong.
Some products may call for scientific testing whereas others could use a qualitative approach.
The four basic types of quality control are process control, acceptance sampling, control charts, and process protocol.
Process Control – It involves monitoring and adjusting till the required output is achieved with the least variation. The role of process control is to ensure that all workings are correct and smooth. This helps to improve performance and increase business efficiency. This is a technical process that makes use of feedback loops, industrial-level controls, and chemical processes for inspection and quality control.
Acceptance Sampling – A statistical measure used to ascertain if the sample product meets the overall manufacturing standard. Testing the entire batch of products is not a feasible or cost-friendly option for the company and hence only a few products will be selected for acceptance sampling.
Control Chart – A type of quality control that includes graphs or charts that can be employed to study how business or manufacturing processes change over a period of time.
A good understanding of the changes can help avoid inconsistencies that can happen in products due to these changes. The overall stability of a product can be analyzed with the four process states in the control charts; the ideal state, threshold state, the blink of chaos
state and the chaos state which is when the process is out of exhibit control.
Process Protocol – Some master standards or rules that processes have to follow to reach quality goals. With this mapping methodology, certain evaluative indicators or quality control factors can be created for every step of the process. This can greatly help to improve the design and implementation processes and prevent process failures or quality control issues.
If you are in the manufacturing business, ensuring that your products follow the same high standards should be the top concern. Robust quality control procedures make this possible.
The benefits of quality control go beyond just attracting more customers or increasing sales of products.
Here are some major benefits that quality control can bring to the business:
Cost Reduction - Having an effective quality control system in place can reduce production costs that may arise from wastage of raw materials, partially finished and finished goods.
The rework costs incurred by substandard products can also be avoided.
Better Employee Morale - Employees are more quality conscious and understand product standards when there are stringent quality control procedures within the company.
Producing quality goods enhances the morale of employees.
Better Resource Utilization – The resources of the company can be utilized to the maximum without any wastage when there is a quality control process in place. With this, there will be
better control over machines, equipment, men, materials, or other resources.
Better Sales – The top benefit of quality control is definitely to increase the sales of the products. No consumer wants to spend their money on substandard products. The cost of production can be low when quality is adhered to at every step and this can allow products to reach buyers at a low rate increasing demand and sales.
Happy Customers - Quality products that meet expectations automatically mean happy customers.
Reduced Variations – Product variations can occur due to changes in the nature of machines, materials, or operations. Quality control can bring about a certain level of uniformity in the products with the least possible variations.
A company must first decide the specific standards that products manufactured or services rendered must meet before implementing a quality control procedure. The first step would be to determine the extent of quality control actions. There should be a set percentage of units that need to be checked from each batch of products.
Once the quality control is done, the data about the percentage of units that failed the test has to be reported to the management. Following this, corrective action can be decided and taken. If the percentage of failed units is high then steps should be devised to improve the production process and solve quality control issues.
The quality control process must be ongoing to ensure that desired results are achieved after the changes have been made. Unlike proactive quality assurance programs in companies, a quality control program is reactive where a dedicated team studies the final product output to identify the problems or defects and works to fix them.
Taking a product to the market is a complex process so the possibility of errors is quite understandable. A good understanding of the various challenges of quality control can to a great extent help minimize quality control issues.
Here are a few challenges of quality control that can hinder the smooth running of the process:
When a product has multiple parts and materials then the quality control of all the different components can be challenging. All the parts should conform to the exacting standards for the product to function properly.
● The additional handling and assembly during product reworks could lead to the
possibility of additional defects happening. This is especially the case when the
product has to be handled by many different workers or staff.
● When the product’s complexity and other dependent factors are not properly
studied before determining the quality issues. A good understanding of the product
function and quality standards is crucial to quality control.
● When the number of players involved in the supply chain is more,managing quality
control can get more complicated. Some factories could also outsource the
manufacturing of certain parts to sub-suppliers. At times the inspection and quality control of sub-supplier factories may also be required.
● The efficient management of shipping deadlines is another challenge of quality
control. In the case of complicated products, a regular product inspection can help to catch quality issues thereby avoiding delivery delays.
Quality control benefits every company irrespective of its size or industry. Any company that wants to consistently deliver high-quality products and remain successful should have a quality control system in place.
The two-fold benefit of this is that you will always stay ahead of your competition and always have satisfied customers. With effective quality control, small businesses can especially have a winning streak in markets where quality is given more importance than the price of the product
Brand loyalty and customer satisfaction can be greatly improved with a quality control procedure. A small business that delivers quality products performs better and it can also increase the customer base solely based on positive product reviews. Quality control can also help to positively improve the reputation of the company and its engagement on social media platforms. Continuous product callbacks due to quality control issues can adversely
affect brand goodwill.
Even though the initial efforts are more, it is absolutely necessary for small business owners to implement quality control standards and processes. Having such a system ensures that there will be a final assurance of quality before the product reaches the customer. Defective products will only mean that you have to deal with a lot of wastage of company resources and additional expenses.
Overlooking quality control and ignoring small mistakes in your production chain can, over time, turn into much larger errors that may ultimately cost you dearly. For small businesses to implement effective quality control within their organization, it is important to standardize everything from start to finish. Create standardization by devising a thorough process and passing it on to the employees that are tasked with handling quality control.
Identifying Quality Control Issues
Solving quality control issues begins with correctly identifying the root cause or origin of the issue. Doing this can save a lot of money, time and effort when it comes to rectifying the error and reworking the product.
This can be easily done when quality control checkpoints are added at every stage of the production line. Repairing faulty products and pinpointing the correct stage when the issue occurs is so much easier with such a quality control strategy.
A key indicator of quality control issues with a product is when it underperforms in the market or when there is a regular callback of products or general neglect of operations.
Using third-party services when it comes to the inspection and quality control of products could greatly help identify problems before it gets to your customers.
Pre-shipment inspections are another way to help identify quality control issues and assess overall product quality before your order ships. Such inspections can also happen right at the manufacturing stage as well to check on the quality of raw materials used. Big importers dealing with high-volume products often conduct ‘during production inspections’ (DUPRO) to check product dimensions, appearance, and functionality quite early in the manufacturing process.
Global Inspection Managing can help to maximize your company’s potential and maintain quality standards throughout your operation. We have relevant knowledge of industry standards and extensive experience working with industries like fresh produce, textiles and manufacturing, and we also provide lab testing services.
Ensuring quality control is extremely crucial to stay relevant in today’s marketplaces. Quality standards should be maintained right from raw material storage to production, lab testing and even in the pre-delivery stage to ensure that the final products meet the same standards of quality. An assurance of quality is the most important factor for the trust placed in your business by your customers.
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