Learn about quality control in manufacturing and discover tips to implement and improve it
Imagine the detrimental effects of a product fault on your production. What if they are constant and eventually lead to this particular product being recalled? If you are eager to maintain the best quality for your products and customers, we provide a few techniques you can follow to implement and improve your quality processes. So, if you want to get a glimpse of how quality control works in manufacturing, keep reading!
What is quality control?
Quality control (QC) is a set of procedures, intended to ensure that a manufactured product adheres to a specific set of quality criteria, or meets the requirements of the client or customer. Thus, we can understand that it plays an important role in materials management. More specifically, it pertains to inspections where you visually examine physical products in order to detect inconsistencies. Think of batch inspection, laboratory testing, product sampling, etc.
Conformance to said criteria may be imposed by standards you set internally. Also, those can be requested by customers, or by external organizations such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). For instance, ISO 9001 emphasizes areas that support quality management (i.e., process management, competence building, organizational culture, etc).
As far as quality techniques are concerned, the pioneering work of Dr. W. Edwards Deming led to the idea of PDSA (Plan-Do-Study-Act), to help business produce high-quality products.
- Plan — Identify a goal and design a plan of action
- Do — Implement the components of the aforementioned plan
- Study — Monitor the results
- Act — Integrate what you’ve discovered and alter your plan if needed
Quality Control is similar to, but not identical with, quality assurance (QA). QA refers to the confirmation that specified requirements have been met by a product. However, QC refers to the actual inspection of these elements. These two are sometimes met together as a single expression: quality assurance and control (QA/QC).
Quality Control Techniques
There can be found many quality control techniques that are extensively used in both large and small businesses. Depending on the type of products you manufacture, different regulations or standards, you can employ various techniques to ensure quality.
- 100% Inspection Method. With this technique, all of your products need to be inspected to ensure their compliance with the quality standards. For instance, let’s say you manufacture food. Then, you could be required by law to make sure that all of your products have the expiry dates printed before they go into the market. However, this may be quite expensive. It is only employed when the cost of producing a substandard product is extremely high.
- Statistical quality control (SQC). It is a quality control technique that uses statistical methods to monitor the quality in a facility. It uses data analysis, sampling inspections and control charting to determine defects, allowing you to investigate the root causes and improve quality.
- Statistical process control (SPC). This technique, as well, uses statistics to detect inconsistencies in the facility. SPC uses tools such as cause and effect diagrams, control charts, etc. to improve quality, reduce waste, and ensure continuous improvement.
- Total quality management (TQM). This kind of quality control has its focus on all members of the organization participating in improving products, processes and the organizational culture. It’s as Dr. Demings’ put it when quoting that “Quality is everyone’s responsibility”.
- Six Sigma (6σ). This is a modern quality management technique, generally better suited for larger companies due to its cost, with a view to eliminating variance from business and manufacturing processes. For instance, Six Sigma refers to the ability of a company to manufacture an extremely high proportion of output within a specification of 3.4 defects per million units.
- Lean Six Sigma. Lean manufacturing techniques over the years led to a brand-new hybrid quality control method called Lean Six Sigma. It combines top lean inventory techniques, such as eliminating the eight different types of waste and the high standards of delivering quality products found in Six Sigma.
How a manufacturing software can help with QC
A number of manufacturing software come with tools that can help you manage quality as well. For instance, the features of EPOPTIA MES, can help you get audit ready by digitalizing your Quality Control procedures and eliminating any paperwork that was once needed. More specifically, the system itself undertakes the task of obliging the operators to perform the necessary checks. As far as the audits are concerned, these can be performed for an ISO certification, or they may derive from customer qualifications needed when undertaking major manufacturing deals.
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