Quality control often refers to the management of manufacturing processes and product or service specifications. This system, however, generally requires identifiable procedures and employees who plan and inspect. The quality control process may thus include a manager who oversees the system, a quality control statement that summarizes production goals, and inspection procedures at different points of manufacturing. A quality control technician is often part of this process to collect data, and a checklist often provides the foundation for routine product inspection.
For a quality control process to be successful, specific procedures often need to be instituted with a manager or supervisor to oversee them. This person may be largely responsible for both developing a quality control program and also ensuring expectations are met. In many cases, the purpose of quality control is to ensure all materials and products submitted for delivery conform to contract or customer requirements. To accomplish this, therefore, a quality control manager often needs a functional plan to control the production process, determine when and if the process fails and respond accordingly to restore the process.
In some companies, the quality manager may work to create and implement a quality control statement. Where such statements already exist, the manager may simply ensure procedures are adequate and the process design meets product specifications. A production manager is often involved with such determinations. Quality control processes, however, are not limited to manufacturing facilities. Laboratories, patient care settings and services such as public transportation and wastewater treatment usually implement quality control procedures as well.
A quality control statement often identifies production goals and provides the basis for service and product measurements. This document may thus outline those company facilities that must be included in the quality control process. Manufacturing facilities, for example, may require all plant equipment to be maintained, instruments to be calibrated and employees to be trained in an ongoing manner.
Once the statement of quality is complete, the procedures can then be defined and implemented. To ensure plant equipment functions appropriately, the quality control process may involve daily machinery inspection to look for worn or broken parts. Pumps and hoses may be inspected for leakage as well as scales or other tools adjusted.
In addition to machinery inspection, the procedures are also likely to provide standards for product or service testing. Depending upon the types of quality control implemented, some processes will try to prevent mistakes while others will try to correct them. Thus, quality control planning often looks at the development, production and delivery of goods.
Some companies implement a quality control process at all three stages. To illustrate, sample goods may be manufactured prior to actual production. During this time, the production design may be adapted to fix errors or quality inspectors may review technical files to ensure the processes are running as expected. Once mass production begins, random products may be inspected for quality assurance. Another option is to wait until all products are manufactured for a total product review. Many companies also implement a system for product returns or exchanges after customer delivery.
At all three junctures, a quality control technician often works alongside the manager and inspector. This person is likely to sample and test products before giving the information to the inspector. In turn, the inspector may compare data and determine when and where quality improvements are necessary. The manager is then likely to approve such changes and also streamline processes for cost efficiency and timely product deliverables.
Managing the quality control process often means balancing production standards with standardized quality control inspection. For purposes of inspection, a company often uses quality checklists on which the inspector records the number, causes and frequency of product defaults. This is usually a structured form or questionnaire that may be adapted by many industries. In addition, a checklist may address such problems as high levels of waste materials and low productivity. Checklists may also provide points for quality control summaries and discussions during team meetings.