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?

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. 

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. 

How Is It Done?

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

The kind of business or product greatly impacts the quality control procedures used there. To ensure that a consumer won't become ill from a product, for instance, quality control in manufacturing food and medications involves testing samples from the production line for chemicals and bacteria.

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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.

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Why Is Quality Control Important? What Are the Benefits?

In the long run, investments in quality control measures can protect the reputation of a company, prevent products from being unreliable, and increase trust on the side of consumers. These processes are determined through rigorous methodology and testing, as well as industry standards and best practices. 

Moreover, quality control is necessary because it ensures that a company will look at evidence-based data and research — not just anecdotal observations — to ensure that products are living up to their standard. One essential aspect of quality control is that the process doesn’t just happen once but is a routine evaluation of the product to ensure that it’s continuously meeting both the manufacturing standards and consumer demand. 

No consumer wants to risk using a product that could endanger them or fail expectations. A company’s reputation, reliability, and efficiency are all at risk if quality control is overlooked. A product’s testing can play a role in marketing and sales as well since consumers may trust it more.

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.

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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.

Interested in learning Lean Six Sigma and it’s importance? Check out the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification course preview!

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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.  

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  • *According to Simplilearn survey conducted and subject to terms & conditions with Ernst & Young LLP (EY) as Process Advisors