What Is Quality Control?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 13, 2021 | Published February 4, 2020

Updated September 13, 2021

Published February 4, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Quality control is essential for any company that manufactures products or provides a service. It helps improve customer satisfaction by consistently delivering quality products or services, reducing wastage of resources and increasing efficiency and profits for the company. Because certain industries rely on quality control to set product standards, employers may ask you about this part of the job during interviews. In this article, we discuss what quality control is, why it is important and some types of quality control.

Related: Learn About Being a Quality Manager

What is quality control?

Quality control or QC is the process that businesses use to ensure that a product or service adheres to a predefined set of quality standards or meets the requirements of customers or clients. Quality control usually requires the business to create an environment where employees and management are always striving for perfection. This requires extensive training, creating benchmarks for measuring product or service quality, and testing to check for any significant variations in quality.

Related: Learn About Being a Quality Control Inspector

Quality control vs. quality assurance

These two terms are often used interchangeably, and while there are activities within these processes that are interrelated, they are actually defined differently. Quality assurance or QA is focused on providing confidence that the company's quality requirements will be fulfilled, and it includes all the activities that the company has implemented to provide such confidence. Quality control, on the other hand, refers to the inspection aspect of quality management, specifically the techniques and activities used to meet the quality requirements.

Why is quality control important?

There are numerous reasons why quality control is important:

  • Encouragement of quality consciousness: Quality control encourages employees to keep quality in mind throughout the manufacturing process, which can help the company's ability to achieve the desired level of quality each time.

  • Lower production costs: The process used for quality control checks the production of items that don't meet quality standards, correcting any problems and bringing down the cost of production.

  • Increased satisfaction by consumers: Quality control ensures that customers receive products free from error or defect, which increases overall customer satisfaction.

  • Increased goodwill: Producing high-quality products that have met all of an organization's quality control requirements means that the products will consistently satisfy the customer's needs, raising the established reputation of the business.

  • Higher employee morale: When employees recognize that they are producing high-quality products that deliver value to consumers, it can improve overall company morale.

  • Better production methods: Quality control processes help streamline and improve the production processes, which means improved methods and designs and often higher productivity.

  • Increased sales: Consistent quality control can help the company develop a reputation for quality, which can in turn attract new customers and increase sales.

  • Effective use of resources: Quality control ensures that a company is effectively utilizing resources by minimizing product and material waste and increasing efficiencies.

Related: Quality Assurance Manager Resume Samples

Quality control process

Companies typically follow a set procedure to ensure quality control, including:

Setting testing standards

To implement a quality control program, a company must first decide what standards it wants to meet. Next, it must be determined the extent of the actions that will be taken. For example, the team must decide how many samples will be taken and tested.

Testing raw materials and various stages

Quality control usually involves testing every step of a company's manufacturing process. QC employees may begin by testing the raw materials that are used to create a product and then testing at various stages within the manufacturing process to identify where any problems are occurring.

Correcting problems

Then employees would correct problems to prevent them from happening again in the future. The exact quality control that a company uses is dependent on the industry and product.

For example, in food manufacturing, the company QC team performs microbiological testing to ensure that the completed product doesn't make consumers sick. They may also perform quality control of the food in its packaging to ensure it is visually appealing. In the car manufacturing industry, however, quality control may focus on the way that different parts interact and operate together.

Data collection and decisions

After correction of problems found, real-world data must be collected and the reports should be delivered to management. Finally, corrective action must be taken. For example, the company may decide to repair any remaining defective units or eliminate them.

If too many of the products are defective, a company must establish a plan for improving the production process or, if the problem is with the supplies being used, purchasing raw materials from elsewhere. Finally, the quality control method must be ongoing to monitor for new signs of problems.

Methods for quality control in business

Here are a few methods for performing quality control in business:

Inspection

Products can be randomly selected and tested according to a given attribute or attributes that can be tracked on a quality control chart. This graphic is designed to depict whether sampled products or processes meet the company's quality standards and, if not, how much they vary from the company's requirements. The charts can analyze specific attributes or measure variances in several product attributes. By analyzing the pattern in the chart, companies can determine if the defects are randomly occurring or systematic. Charts that measure variances in multiple product attributes are called multivariate charts, whereas those that measure only a specific attribute are called univariate charts. X-bar charts are commonly used as quality control charts, although companies may also use:

  • Cause and effect diagrams

  • Control charts

  • Flow-charting

  • Run charts

  • Scatter diagrams

Taguchi method of quality control

This method emphasizes the roles of research and development, product development and product design in reducing the likelihood of defects and errors in products. It focuses on design rather than the manufacturing process and tries to eliminate variances in production before they happen.

Statistical sampling

This process involves measuring a portion of all products and then making inferences about the remainder of the products based on that subset.

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