In a broad sense, quality control is the sum of all measures to ensure a stable level of product quality. Strictly speaking, this term means a comparison of the actual value of a product with a given value, in which it is established to what extent the products meet the requirements set for the customer or end-user. Quality control is any planned and systematic activity carried out in a manufacturing enterprise (in a production system), which is implemented to ensure that the goods produced, services and processes performed to meet the customer’s established requirements (standards).
Quality control has always played an important role, but over time its methods are transformed to achieve the desired objectives. What was once used to ensure customer satisfaction has now become a method to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
Quality control is a key factor in the manufacturing process. Manufacturers are always informed about their quality assurance processes, and companies that promote high-quality standards easily attract customers. To become more familiar with quality control standards, we go back to the basics to determine what every manufacturer needs to know about the process.
Benefits of effective quality control
The purpose of quality control in manufacturing is to identify and correct any defects or inconsistencies in products before they reach the customer. A strong quality control system can provide manufacturers with many important benefits, including:
Waste reduction: minimizing the number of defective products that can eventually become waste.
Compliance assurance: ensure that products comply with all regulations.
Increased product safety: defective products may not be safe for end-users.
Increased profits: with a minimal defect rate, manufacturers no longer have to spend money on product returns and exchanges.
Taking the time to implement an effective quality monitoring strategy can help improve any business over time.
Create a quality control plan
A quality control plan reflects the entire manufacturing process, including every tool, specification, technique, control method and action plan. These plans are the best way to ensure that each step of the manufacturing process is planned and structured to deliver a quality end product in the most efficient manner possible.
Key points to create an effective quality control plan:
- Collaborate with employees in all departments, from engineers and production workers to quality control and sales specialists.
- Examine design documentation to determine key product features.
- Create a manufacturing process flowchart to explore a product’s path from start to finish.
- List key processes and tools used to manufacture the product.
- Define the measurement equipment and methods associated with the specifications.
- List sample sizes, control methods, and response plans.
Quality control plans are living documents that must evolve as processes, equipment, and other factors are updated. This plan should serve as the basis for your manufacturing process and will often be used throughout the product’s journey.
Provide the correct documentation
Manufacturers often create products that are used in a wide variety of industries. In this case, each industry may require different quality control protocols to meet the standards in their area. Manufacturers should consider providing a variety of quality control documentation to meet the requirements of the industries they serve.
- Common quality control documents include:
- Checking the first product
- Repeatability and Reproducibility of Measurement (GR&R)
- Certificate of Conformity (CoC)
- Failure Mode and Effects Analysis Process (PFMEA)
- Production Part Approval Process (PPAP)
These quality control documents ensure that customers receive products that meet their exact specifications at all times.