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.
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?
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.
Interested in learning Lean Six Sigma and it’s importance? Check out the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification course preview!
Train to Assess Quality With Lean Today
Learn how to define what is quality control with Simplilearn’s Post Graduate Program in Lean Six Sigma, offered in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This Lean Six Sigma certification program will help you gain key skills to lead tranformational projects by improving overall quality and delivering the best results.
This course focuses on two important management methodologies — Lean practices and Six Sigma — that will enable you to accelerate business improvement.