In today’s world, it’s not uncommon that we take the reliability and quality of products and services for granted. At the start of the 20th century, however, quality control in manufacturing was not exactly a reliable process.

Now, decades after early pioneers created business problem-solving processes and analysis frameworks to determine and control consistency and value, it’s possible more than ever for a business to implement and scale best practices. 

What Is Quality Control (QC)?

Quality does not have a singular definition. Despite the relative meaning of “value,” quality control is the process by which products/services are tested and measured to ensure they meet a standard. Through this process, a business can evaluate, maintain, and improve product quality. The primary objective of Quality Control is to identify and correct any deviations from the established quality standards. This process involves monitoring and inspecting products or services at various stages of production or delivery to ensure that they meet the desired level of quality. QC is also concerned with preventing defects or errors from occurring in the first place by implementing measures to control and improve the production or service delivery processes.

Ultimately, there are two crucial goals of quality control: (1) to ensure that products are as uniform as possible and (2), to minimize errors and inconsistencies within them.

Key Components of Quality Control

Key components of Quality Control may include:

  1. Inspection: Regularly examining products, materials, or services to identify defects, non-compliance, or deviations from quality standards.

  2. Testing: Conducting various tests and measurements to assess the performance, functionality, or characteristics of products or services.

  3. Statistical Process Control (SPC): Employing statistical techniques to monitor and control the production processes, ensuring that they remain within acceptable quality limits.

  4. Documentation and Records: Keeping detailed records of inspections, tests, and corrective actions taken to maintain traceability and accountability.

  5. Corrective Action: Implementing appropriate measures to address any identified quality issues and prevent their recurrence.

  6. Training and Education: Providing employees with the necessary skills and knowledge to maintain quality standards effectively.

  7. Continuous Improvement: Constantly analyzing data and feedback to identify areas for improvement and enhancing the overall quality management system.

Quality Control is closely related to another quality management concept called Quality Assurance (QA). While QC focuses on detecting and correcting defects, QA concentrates on preventing them from occurring in the first place by setting up robust processes and procedures.

Together, QC and QA form the backbone of an organization's quality management system, helping to ensure that products and services consistently meet or exceed customer expectations and regulatory requirements.

Quality Control Process

Normally, quality testing is part of every stage of a manufacturing or business process. Employees frequently begin testing using samples collected from the production line, finished products, and raw materials. Testing during various production phases can help identify the cause of a production problem and the necessary corrective actions to prevent it from happening again.

Customer service reviews, questionnaires, surveys, inspections, and audits are a few examples of quality testing procedures that can be used in non-manufacturing businesses. A company can use any procedure or technique to ensure that the final product or service is safe, compliant, and meets consumer demands.

QC Is Different by Industry

Quality Control (QC) is an indispensable aspect of various industries, ensuring that products and services adhere to predefined standards. In the manufacturing sector, QC involves rigorous inspection and testing of raw materials, intermediate components, and final products to maintain consistent quality and minimize defects. In the food industry, QC guarantees the safety and integrity of consumables through thorough testing for contaminants and adherence to health regulations. In the pharmaceutical sector, QC plays a critical role in verifying the potency and purity of drugs, ensuring they are safe for consumption. Additionally, in the software industry, QC involves extensive testing of applications and programs to identify bugs and errors before release, guaranteeing a smooth user experience. Across all industries, QC is a fundamental process that enhances customer satisfaction, boosts efficiency, and fosters a reputation for reliability.

Types of Quality Control

Just as quality is a relative word with many interpretations, quality control itself doesn’t have a uniform, universal process. Some methods depend on the industry. Take food and drug products, for instance, where errors can put people at risk and create significant liability. These industries may rely more heavily on scientific measures, whereas others (such as education or coaching) may require a more holistic, qualitative method. 

At its core, quality control requires attention to detail and research methodology. 

So, what is quality control? There are a wide range of quality control methods, including: 

Control Charts:

A graph or chart is used to study how processes are changing over time. Using statistics, the business and manufacturing processes are analyzed for being “in control.” 

Process Control:

Processes are monitored and adjusted to ensure quality and improve performance. This is typically a technical process using feedback loops, industrial-level controls, and chemical processes to achieve consistency. 

Acceptance Sampling:

A statistical measure is used to determine if a batch or sample of products meets the overall manufacturing standard. 

Process Protocol:

A mapping methodology that improves the design and implementation processes by creating evaluative indicators for each step. 

There are other quality control factors to consider when selecting a method in addition to types of processes. 

Some companies establish internal quality control divisions when defining what is quality control. They do this to monitor products and services, while others rely on external bodies to track products and performance. These controls may be largely dependent on the industry of the business. Due to the strict nature of food inspections, for example, it may be in a company’s best interest to sample products internally and verify these results in a third-party lab.

Why Is Quality Control Important? What Are the Benefits?

Quality Control (QC) is essential for various reasons, and its importance lies in the numerous benefits it brings to both businesses and consumers. Here are some key reasons why QC is crucial:

  1. Customer Satisfaction: QC ensures that products and services meet or exceed customer expectations, leading to higher satisfaction levels and increased customer loyalty.

  2. Defect Prevention: By identifying and correcting issues early in the production or service delivery process, QC helps prevent defects, reducing the likelihood of expensive recalls or rework.

  3. Cost Reduction: Implementing QC measures can lead to reduced waste, lower production costs, and improved operational efficiency, contributing to overall cost savings.

  4. Compliance and Regulations: QC ensures that products and services adhere to industry standards and regulatory requirements, avoiding legal issues and penalties.

  5. Brand Reputation: Consistent high-quality products or services build a positive brand image, enhancing the company's reputation and competitiveness in the market.

  6. Increased Efficiency: QC optimizes processes and identifies areas for improvement, leading to increased productivity and streamlined operations.

  7. Risk Mitigation: Through rigorous testing and inspections, QC helps identify potential risks and hazards, enabling businesses to address them proactively.

  8. Continuous Improvement: QC encourages a culture of continuous improvement, where organizations strive to enhance their products, services, and processes constantly.

  9. International Competitiveness: High-quality products can open doors to global markets, increasing a company's competitiveness on an international scale.

  10. Customer Retention and Loyalty: Satisfied customers are more likely to remain loyal and recommend the brand to others, contributing to long-term business success.

Overall, Quality Control is crucial for maintaining high standards, minimizing risks, and fostering a competitive advantage in today's dynamic and demanding business environment. It serves as the foundation for delivering superior products and services while ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Quality Control Roles and Responsibilities

When answering what is quality control, it is critical to understand that it consists of multifaceted responsibilities and roles. Moreover, it shouldn’t be confused with quality assurance. Whereas quality assurance looks at the processes used to prevent defects, quality control is focused specifically on the measurement and analysis processes involved with determining product quality. 

Quality control uses specific research tools to accomplish fact-finding processes and conduct analyses. A quality control professional is tasked with analyzing these measurements against some sort of standard determined by the quality management department, company policies, and industries or regulatory bodies. Based on this evidence-gathering, quality control will recommend changes. 

We can see from this roadmap, too, how quality assurance and quality control differ. Quality assurance looks at the holistic picture to prevent a product from becoming defective. Quality control, on the other hand, later determines if a product is, in fact, defective or not. Both roles fit under the broad umbrella of quality management. 

Thus, an individual in quality control is tasked with communicating results to stakeholders and significant parties. A good quality control specialist will be able to disseminate scientific and research-based thinking to a business community and assist with the problem-solving process. These specialists are a key component of a product’s design process, as they determine whether a company’s creation is truly acceptable for the market.

Quality Control vs. Quality Assurance

Even though the terms quality control and quality assurance are sometimes used interchangeably, they have some key differences. Quality criteria, such as ensuring an item complies with specifications, are the main emphasis of quality control. Quality assurance is the sum of all processes and actions necessary to demonstrate that the requirements for quality are satisfied.

Because of this distinction, quality specialists may eventually change their specialization as they progress in their careers from quality assurance to quality control. For upper management, customers, and government inspectors, quality assurance programs and departments make sure that products adhere to all quality requirements and safety regulations. A part of quality assurance is quality control.

Quality Control Careers

Quality control can be a fulfilling job if you enjoy dealing with people, talking, presenting results, and trying to make things better and safer. Depending on the sector, you may need the following qualifications to work as a quality control inspector:

  • Entry-level positions require a high school diploma.
  • Depending on the business, a bachelor's degree
  • A background in the industry
  • Certain businesses and sectors require licenses and certifications.

Additional characteristics required by quality control specialists include:

  • Observation of details
  • Talents in math and mechanics
  • Physical prowess and power
  • Technical expertise
  • Pressured performance

Career Path

There may be discrepancies because the path to quality assurance and control job varies by industry. However, you'll typically require a number of years of professional expertise in your field. After completing the necessary educational qualifications and gaining the necessary work experience, you are often hired as a quality assurance or control associate.

As you gain job experience, you can advance to the position of senior specialist and start leading groups of quality control specialists.

Your employer may require you to take professional development classes or obtain certifications like Six Sigma. A professional designation like Certified Quality Inspector may also be required.

Quality Control Salaries

Depending on the role, expertise, and industry, quality control specialists make a variety of salaries. As you get more expertise and advance into management positions, your pay rises. The average wage, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is:

  • Services rendered by experts in science and technology: $46,280
  • Production: $40,020
  • Trade in bulk: $37,800
  • $30,070 for office supplies and support services

What Does Quality Control Mean?

Quality control refers to a company's methods for assessing product quality and, if necessary, improving it. There are various ways to perform quality control, including benchmarking, examining manufacturing procedures, and testing products. All of this is done to keep track of significant product differences.

What Are 3 Examples of Quality Control?

Three examples of quality control in the food sector are monitoring ingredient standards, verifying supplier lists, and making sure the manufacturing facility is hygienic.

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FAQs

1. What is Quality Control (QC)?

Quality control is the process by which services/products are measured and tested to ensure they are as uniform as possible and meet a standard. It helps businesses minimize inconsistencies and improve product quality. 

2. What are the four types of Quality Control?

The four types of quality control are process control, control charts, acceptance sampling, and product quality control. While a control chart helps study changing processes over time, process control and product quality control help monitor and adjust products as per the standards. Acceptance sampling is a unique type that involves a statistical measure to determine whether a batch or sample of products satisfies the standards. 

3. Why is Quality Control important?

Quality control is important to safeguard the company’s reputation, prevent products from being unreliable, and increase trust on the side of consumers. It ensures that the company looks at evidence-based data and research rather than anecdotal observations to ensure that the services/products live up to the standards. It reduces cost and maximizes profit, operational efficiency, and customer satisfaction.

4. What are three examples of Quality Control?

Some examples of quality control are: a high-speed car manufacturer runs thorough tests for every component, including manual and automated verifications; websites study the average response time per page for customer interactions and generate tickets when the service gets unacceptably slow; retail store owners employ secret shoppers to test the customer service of their stores. 

5. What are the four steps of Quality Control?

The first step for quality control is to set your quality standards and decide which ones to focus on. Secondly, you must establish operational processes to deliver optimal quality and implement them. The third step is to review your results and identify gaps. Lastly, get feedback and make improvisations.

6. What are quality control techniques?

Inspection and Statistical quality control (SQC) are the two major techniques of Quality Control. Inspection checks the performance of items as per the pre-decided specifications. It involves periodic checking before, during and on completion of the process. It can be categorized into two types: Centralized and Floor Inspection. Statistical Quality Control relies on laws of probability. It controls the production quality within tolerance limits via sample procedure.  

7. What is the difference QA and QC?

Quality Assurance (QA) focuses on preventing defects and maintaining the overall quality management system through process implementation and improvement. It ensures that proper processes are in place to avoid issues. On the other hand, Quality Control (QC) involves detecting and correcting defects through inspections and testing. QC ensures that products or services meet specific quality standards. While QA is proactive, emphasizing prevention, QC is reactive, emphasizing identification and correction of issues after they occur.

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