Many companies that manufacture products or offer services implement a standard for quality control. This is likely a way to monitor whether products meet specifications and services are satisfactory. Quality control techniques, therefore, may vary depending upon the intended measurement. Some methods of quality control include failure testing, acceptance sampling, statistical process control and analytical quality control. Company-wide quality control, software packages and customer surveys are additional tools that may be used.
Quality control is often performed by a team of professionals who use specific measurement techniques. These measures often provide information relative to a product or service to ensure it meets specifications. Without quality control techniques, a company would likely rely on standard processes without knowledge of how well they're performing.
One of the quality control techniques that may be employed by manufacturers is failure testing. This method typically puts the final product under a series of tests that determine when and how failures may occur. A set of variables, such as temperature or pressure, may be applied to reveal the product’s weaknesses. In turn, members of the quality control team may be able to modify the product and improve points of failure before customer delivery.
Statistical quality control is a broad term that often describes probability tools used by quality professionals. For example, a company may use acceptance sampling to determine if a group of products is acceptable. The quality control manager often inspects a random sample of goods to determine quality levels of the entire lot. Based on the inspection results, the lot may then be accepted or rejected.
Statistical process control (SPC) involves similar probability methods as those of acceptance sampling. With SPC, a sample of the product is often tested to determine the success of the output process. This method does not provide quality answers with regard to the product, but rather to the method of production. For instance, product characteristics may need to meet customer specifications, and if they do not, the problem may relate to production techniques. SPC often allows the quality control team to adjust processes before goods are manufactured.
While quality control often relates to an end-product, procedures may also be needed to monitor the actual quality measurements. Such quality control techniques are often known as analytical quality control. Both technological competence and workforce intelligence may be gauged with these standards. For example, one employee may deem a product as acceptable because it meets specifications, but another may argue that its failure points are outside the intended ranges. Analytical quality control often works to safeguard the ways in which quality is measured and how control techniques are used.
In some instances, managing quality control requires company-wide participation. This often means all aspects of the organization are under scrutiny, not just the manufacturing or production segments. Managers may employ this method to ensure operations as a whole function appropriately. With company quality control, principles that are likely to influence the end-product include employee performance, data management and customer service.
Not all quality control techniques are performed manually. Some companies utilize software for quality control that often provides a visual interpretation of data. In addition, some software programs may point to alarming statistics or produce reports for a given period of time. Information related to production efficiency, product maintenance and failure occurrences may also be accessible with some software platforms. These packages often connect to existing quality measurement devices, which may allow the quality control technician to use the software for daily tasks.
Measuring the quality of a product is often tangible, with real and comparable data results. In the service industry, however, customer satisfaction is often the only way to gauge success. This sector may thus employ quality control techniques that provide information about the client’s experience. Surveys and questionnaires are often used to obtain such feedback and also identify areas of improvement.