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What Is Quality Control?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 17, 2024
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Quality control is a process that is used to ensure a certain level of quality in a product or service. It might include whatever actions a business deems necessary to provide for the control and verification of certain characteristics of a product or service. Most often, it involves thoroughly examining and testing the quality of products or the results of services. The basic goal of this process is to ensure that the products or services that are provided meet specific requirements and characteristics, such as being dependable, satisfactory, safe and fiscally sound.

Companies that engage in quality control typically have a team of workers who focus on testing a certain number of products or observing services being done. The products or services that are examined usually are chosen at random. The goal of the quality control team is to identify products or services that do not meet a company's specified standards of quality. If a problem is identified, the job of a quality control team or professional might involve stopping production or service until the problem has been corrected. Depending on the particular service or product as well as the type of problem identified, production or services might not cease entirely.

Usually, it is not the job of the quality control team or professional to correct quality issues. Typically, other individuals are involved in the process of discovering the cause of quality issues and fixing them. After the problems are overcome and the proper quality has been achieved, the product or service continues production or implementation as usual.

Many types of businesses perform these types of quality checks. Manufacturers of food products, for example, often have employees who test the finished products for taste and other qualities. Clothing manufacturers have workers inspect garments to ensure that they are properly sewn. Service-oriented companies often have representatives who observe the services being performed or who do follow-up checks to ensure that everything was done properly.

Quality control also might involve evaluating people. If a company has employees who don't have adequate skills or training, have trouble understanding directions or are misinformed, the quality of the company's products or services might be diminished. This is especially important for service-oriented companies, because the employees are the product that they provide to customers.

Often, quality control is confused with quality assurance. Though the two are similar, but there are some basic differences. Quality control is concerned with examining the product or service — the end result ‐ and quality assurance is concerned with examining the process that leads to the end result. A company would use quality assurance to ensure that a product is manufactured in the right way, thereby reducing or eliminating potential problems with the quality of the final product.

What Is the Difference Between Quality Control and Quality Assurance?

Quality assurance oversees the process that leads to the finished product, while quality control tests the final product to ensure it meets expectations. Both departments are vital to any business and often work together to solve problems. Here’s a closer look at each specialization to understand their differences.

Quality Assurance

The quality assurance department oversees a company's process used to get a final product. It may include the following job requirements:

  • Inspect the manufacturing line to ensure all employees follow guidelines to guarantee the quality of the product.
  • Identify faster and less expensive ways to produce the final product.
  • Determine ways to improve workflow.
  • Design employee training curriculum.
  • Preparing quality assurance reports.
  • Developing testing methods.

Quality assurance specialists are vital to any company because they ensure that the system creates the best product while also improving the business.

Quality Control

While quality assurance is comprehensive in oversight, quality control is a very specialized area. Employees in this department focus primarily on testing the product or service. In manufacturing, this may be a sample of the finished item, while at other times it may be a piece from the middle of the line. This analysis allows the company to monitor where the problems are.

While quality control identifies issues with the product, quality assurance determines how to fix the problem. Similarly, in service industries, quality control focuses on the customer's satisfaction, while quality assurance monitors the performance of the employees.

Who Is Signed to Quality Control?

Quality control technicians may have different backgrounds depending on a business’s industry. While any of these positions demands that analysts pay close attention to detail, be proficient in analyzing data, and understand quality regulations, various industries may also have unique job requirements.

Food and Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

People who work in quality control within food and pharmaceutical manufacturing may have degrees in chemistry because of the high level of analysis that this position requires. These industries are highly regulated, and their products must meet strict federal guidelines. Technicians in this industry verify that all ingredients are in the amounts they should be, ensure no foreign particles are in the product and test for appearance, taste, and effectiveness.

Electronics Manufacturing

Quality control within the electronics field is also highly specialized, but it differs from food and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Some companies, such as those in the microchip business, conduct quality control testing in clean rooms. Workers must be trained not only how to perform microscopic electronic tests but also how to follow the cleanroom regulations. Employees may have a background in electronics assembly or engineering.

Automotive Manufacturing

Another industry that relies heavily on quality control is the automotive industry. From raw materials to OEM parts and final assembly, each part of the vehicle must meet the company’s guidelines according to government regulations for safety and other considerations. Many manufacturers use Six-Sigma to reduce waste, improve processes and put the customer first. Technicians in this industry receive additional training to obtain a Six-Sigma certification.

Service Industries

When a company’s product is its employees, quality control is done differently from manufacturing. These QC specialists generally don’t need to have a degree in a particular industry, but having work experience in the specific service area they analyze is beneficial. For example, a quality control specialist in the restaurant industry may monitor customer reviews, use social media to interact with customers and participate in secret shopper visits. Having previous experience in the restaurant industry makes it easier for a person to identify problem areas and recommend improvements. However, an employee with a restaurant background may not be helpful for a plumbing business. This company would benefit more from a person with a plumbing background.

Why Is Quality Control Important?

A company only remains in business as long as its product or service stays in demand. People want the best, so companies must deliver it. Quality control is vital for any business because it ensures that the product or service meets customers’ expectations. QC technicians help companies by:

  • Ensuring their raw products meet their company’s standards
  • Preventing defective products from being sold to customers
  • Identifying dangers immediately to prevent a recall
  • Saving their employer money by identifying problems before numerous products need to be discarded
  • Improving production or service methods to be as efficient and cost-saving as possible
  • Increasing revenue by enforcing strict regulations to consistently ensure a high-quality product

Companies that put a lot of focus on quality control are better positioned to remain competitive in any market.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a About Mechanics writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By anon990961 — On May 18, 2015

What is the importance of quality control in cosmetics in general?

By anon351524 — On Oct 14, 2013

I found out I worked as quality control officer in a food organization after reading this post.

By anon283812 — On Aug 06, 2012

What does quality control has to do with a juice manufacturing company?

By anon274989 — On Jun 15, 2012

What are the opportunities for quality control in present day life?

By anon256254 — On Mar 21, 2012

How can I define quality for a product?

By anon245355 — On Feb 05, 2012

What is the hierarchy of quality control department in industry?

By anon241214 — On Jan 18, 2012

I want to know the instrument used in QC departments?

By anon219184 — On Oct 02, 2011

I have been working for a jewelry company for the last 10 years. Would you guide me in quality assurance? --from bala

By anon213535 — On Sep 11, 2011

I have been working in quality control for five years and everything I have learned has been on the job training. I am now looking to get my asq certification for qc tech. I mostly have been on the qc side of things but now I am on the qa side of things. I am trying to learn all the different facets of quality. However, one thing I have learned is that unless you find a place to get a formal education in say, quality engineering, you will not learn much about the seven tools of quality, let alone anything else.

I personally am getting used books from the internet to study on my own. I have chosen to start with Kaoru Ishikawa. However, I will be taking some courses through asq before my certification exam. I am taking the next year to study and take the certification exam sometime next fall.

If you want a career in quality control, you simply have to educate yourself, do the research and when you see an opening in quality, jump on it and keep trying until you get what you want. Quality control in an industrial situation is the control of quality in process, not letting quality issues of the product escape, finding the root cause of the issue and finding ways to fix it. quality assurance is more the measuring of product, example would be macros to ensure weld penetration, calibration of measuring tools, use of CMM or a vision system, testing of product like tensile testing, etc.

I don't really have any advice to any one wanting to pursue this field, but to just pick a place and start learning, but make sure your math skills are there; you will need them.

By anon195484 — On Jul 11, 2011

what is involved in quality control in a food manufacturing company and how does a microbiologist fit in?

By anon192033 — On Jun 30, 2011

Thanks for the article. It's really helpful.

By anon191116 — On Jun 28, 2011

I am really glad to see this article and details about the quality control program.

But I need a book with all these details. Would you please kindly advise me where I can get this for my future career as well.

By anon184106 — On Jun 07, 2011

What is the difference between Quality Control and Total Quality Management?

By anon167441 — On Apr 12, 2011

Please where can I undergo a QC and QA program in Lagos, Nigeria?

By anon158428 — On Mar 07, 2011

you normally use diagrams to solve the flow in the control usually if the intervals exceed the upper and lower limits, then there is a problem with your control to help you are already out of control.

By anon157861 — On Mar 04, 2011

i want to be a quality control manager. how do i do about this? what kind of training do i need?

By anon145884 — On Jan 25, 2011

What is the relationship between reliability and quality control and product design and manufacture?

By anon140947 — On Jan 09, 2011

what is the difference between quality control and quality assurance?

By anon133277 — On Dec 10, 2010

i am working in a non-ferrous manufacturing unit and working in the quality department, but what is the future for this and how do I make better prospects for the future?

By anon133267 — On Dec 10, 2010

what is qa qc in structural manufacturing and boiler components of pressure parts?

By anon126268 — On Nov 12, 2010

what is column efficiency? how do we check it?

By anon102097 — On Aug 06, 2010

what are the applications of quality control?

By anon98132 — On Jul 22, 2010

what is ISO and their role in chemical and pharmaceutical industry? What are the types of ISO and differences between them in simple language.

By anon97226 — On Jul 19, 2010

about a difference between qc and qa. how to control it? What is an important factor of qc organization. what is the function of quality control manager or officer in a manufacturing industry?

By anon94337 — On Jul 08, 2010

Please tell me about QA/QC in the pharmaceutical industry and all the tests about QA/QC. Dr. israr

By anon93381 — On Jul 03, 2010

What are the 10 most important components of a quality control organization?

By anon93380 — On Jul 03, 2010

please tell me all the details about QC, how to control it, what are the different assurances in quality control and about a job with a quality center.

By anon92140 — On Jun 26, 2010

please tell me all the details about QC, how to control it, what are the different assurances in quality control and about a job with a quality center.

By anon91842 — On Jun 24, 2010

what are the functions of a quality control manager/officer in a manufacturing industry?

By anon90425 — On Jun 16, 2010

can you tell about quality control jobs and related tests?

By anon90232 — On Jun 15, 2010

what can i do to win a job in the quality control department of a company?

By anon88625 — On Jun 06, 2010

where can i find a quality control training center in mumbai.

By anon86897 — On May 27, 2010

I am very much interested in pursuing a program in quality control, but will be more than happy should i get the different options you can have under this program.

By anon84368 — On May 15, 2010

quality control is the process of controlling the product variability in an organization.

By anon81991 — On May 04, 2010

what is quality control in the business industry?

By anon81941 — On May 04, 2010

i have my diploma in mechanical engineering and am interested in quality control. Can you please tell me the courses related to my field?

By anon79875 — On Apr 25, 2010

i am mechanical engineer at a petroleum company so I need to know about qc + qa in the petroleum companies and what is the best way to join in any institute for that and how to help me in my job.

By anon74485 — On Apr 02, 2010

What are the 10 most important components of Quality Control Organization?

By anon73085 — On Mar 25, 2010

what is quality and how we can control it? Quality assurance is related to quality or someone?

By anon72196 — On Mar 22, 2010

what is the definition of quality control in the pharmaceutical industry?

By anon68134 — On Mar 01, 2010

Please specify the functions of quality control manager in the garment manufacturing company.

By anon67360 — On Feb 24, 2010

I am a microbiologist, and i got a job in as a quality control officer.I want you to tell me all about it.

By anon64883 — On Feb 10, 2010

Can anyone explain what DR stands for?

The basic difference between NCR (Non confirmative) and DR.

By anon63437 — On Feb 01, 2010

Can anybody explain to me the difference between Quality Control and Quality Assurance with live examples? Thank you.

By anon62364 — On Jan 26, 2010

what are some steps business can take to ensure it produces a good quality product?

By anon57872 — On Dec 28, 2009

Please provide real life examples of quality assurance.

By anon55398 — On Dec 07, 2009

If you have a business, describe two quality control measures the business should adhere to.

By Hum — On Nov 01, 2009

what's software quality control?

By anon49059 — On Oct 17, 2009

Where we can get the quality control training?

By anon47894 — On Oct 08, 2009

Please give me the full information.

By anon45384 — On Sep 16, 2009

The term quality in technical sense simply means anything that can be measured. So one of the facets of a purchasing officer's responsibility and principles is to know his function and the character he possess in his duties.

By anon44204 — On Sep 05, 2009

Where we can get the quality control training?

By anon43726 — On Sep 01, 2009

can you discuss more about centralized quality control?

By anon43537 — On Aug 30, 2009

Hi, could you please explain how quality control affects the final product in regards to chicken, duck, goose and other avian products?

By anon42259 — On Aug 20, 2009

what is a centralized quality control?

how does it work for a furniture selling industry?

By anon41974 — On Aug 18, 2009

Where I can found the source of this definition? Can I read a specific book about quality control and find this definition?

Thanks in advance.

By anon41721 — On Aug 17, 2009

i am working in a RFID (radio frequency identification device) manufacturing company. how can i control the quality system?

By anon41458 — On Aug 15, 2009

Describe the ways in ways of ensuring high quality control for a service, for example, a chocolate company that opened a theme park.

By anon41332 — On Aug 14, 2009

what does an orange have to have to be passed by the quality control workers?

By anon39251 — On Jul 31, 2009

what are the point you will keep in mind about the concept of quality control and inspection if you are the quality systems manager of a rubber products manufacturing unit?

By anon38725 — On Jul 28, 2009

Hi, could you please explain how quality control affects the final product in regards to chicken, duck, goose and other avian products? Thanks, Eddy

By anon38260 — On Jul 24, 2009

How can we control the quality in present day midday meal production?

By anon22215 — On Nov 30, 2008

Can we have a standard product, that has quality issues?

By anon17709 — On Sep 05, 2008

what is the statistical quality control?

By anon15816 — On Jul 22, 2008

I have been reading about quality control. I would like to get more data on its impact on organisational performance.

By anon14592 — On Jun 20, 2008

Dear Sir, What is an ideal set up? The Quality Assurance is under by a Quality Management System or vice versa? Thanks, Leovie

By mogapij — On Mar 15, 2008

Dear Sir/Madam

I am very much interested in studying Quality Control, where do I start? Do you have a school of your own?

Kind regards

Mogapi J.

By anon9008 — On Feb 26, 2008

what is the relationship between principalship and quality educational assessment?

By anon8892 — On Feb 23, 2008

What is the importance of quality control in present day soap production?

By anon7800 — On Feb 03, 2008

How can I define the term Quality in the technical sense and what are the various facets of a purchasing officer's responsibilities and principles which these duties are based?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a About Mechanics writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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