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What Does a Materials Inspector Do?

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  • Written By: M. Kayo
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2016
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A materials inspector is responsible for the materials coming in and going out of an organization's inventory and for inspecting the materials used to manufacture items in various types of industries. Some companies may also refer to this position as quality control inspector. This is an important job because materials inspectors make sure the food they inspect does not make people sick, that the auto components they inspect last for years, and that the steel used in the aircraft frames they inspect is the best available. Depending upon the industry, some inspectors use some sort of hand-held tool, mechanical, or electronic monitoring device in their job. Other responsibilities include maintaining and ensuring compliance with contract specifications, compliance with government and industry regulatory agencies, and conducting investigations.

Due to the emphasis on producing quality products, a materials inspector may work as part of a team of inspectors. This team doesn't just look for defects but is charged with finding the initial cause of those defects and making sure that problem is fixed. In companies that use machines to find and even automatically repair defects, the materials inspector may have the responsibility of monitoring equipment, reviewing output, and performing random inspections an products or materials.

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A materials inspector also makes sure that all materials inspected are up to a certain standard. These standards may be set by the particular industry, by the company, or by a government agency. For example, in the production of certain electronic components, a pre-specified maximum electrical voltage level may be set. The inspector might use a device to test a component by running an electrical current through it. Materials inspectors use sight, sound, feel, smell and taste to make certain specific materials are up to standard.

Conducting investigations to find the root causes of product failure, defects, or non-compliance is an important function of a materials inspector position. If an inspector finds that a product or the materials used to make or build that product is defective or does not meet the required standard then an investigation may be in order. Reviewing reports, records, computer data and other documents to establish facts or detect problems may also be a part of this job. In certain cases, the inspector needs to gather and evaluate certain evidence. A materials inspector may also work with law enforcement officials or testify in court or administrative proceedings.

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