Quality Control in Manufacturing: A Quick Guide

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When you make something, you better ensure there’s nothing faulty about the product. If a customer buys your product and it doesn’t work, at best, you’ll lose a customer and at worst, you’ll be served with a lawsuit. Simply put, quality control in manufacturing is important.

Quality control in manufacturing means your customers get what they’ve paid for. A happy customer leads to brand loyalty which creates long-term profits for your company. Let’s learn what quality control is, some of the methods to employ it and the roles of your team to ensure quality control in manufacturing is delivered.

What Is Quality Control (QC)?

Quality control isn’t limited to manufacturing, of course. Quality control is a process that helps deliver products as planned or helps improve products. It requires that the company support an environment where everyone, from management to employees, is executing their jobs as perfectly as possible.

The first thing that must be established is a benchmark or baseline from which to measure the product to make sure that it’s delivered to the project’s quality expectations. Products also have to be tested throughout the production process to check for statistically significant variations.

To make sure that products are manufactured to quality standards, quality control must be established. This is done to standardize production and better ensure that each product from the assembly line is consistent and correctly made. Further, specifying which production activities are completed by which employee limits errors and makes sure that employees are only working on tasks for which they’re trained.

Another measure to prevent error is having a system to monitor your production in real time. ProjectManager is online project management software that delivers real-time data to help you catch problems quickly and resolve them. Use our live dashboard to get a high-level view of your product. There’s no configuration as in inferior products. It’s ready to go when you are, tracking time, cost, workload and more in real time. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

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Quality Control vs. Quality Assurance

You’ll hear quality control and quality assurance interchanged, but these are two different things. Quality control is part of the larger quality management process, which focuses on meeting quality requirements.

Quality assurance is also part of the quality management plan and revolves around the activities within that plan that ensure that your product goes through production. It means that you’ve verified that the quality requirements that have been planned will be fulfilled in production.

Quality control takes place during the inspection. As noted, it’s a series of test procedures that make sure the product is safe and effective. Therefore, quality control and quality assurance are different in working together to ensure the quality of the product you’re manufacturing.

There are differences between the two. One, quality assurance is proactive, while quality control is reactive. That’s due to the nature of what they do and when they do it. Quality assurance is process-oriented and preventative while quality control focuses on the product itself and looks for any issues with its quality that’ll impact the customer.

Quality Control Methods

There are methods of quality control that employ strategic procedures to make sure that the proper maintenance and quality testing  in production is taking place. There are several types that we’ll discuss, but all involve training employees, creating standards for the output quality that can be measured to ensure they’re working and periodically testing these quality control methods to make sure there aren’t any inconsistencies.

100% Inspection Method

As the name implies, this method is a thorough assessment of all items of a project. By quality controlling every aspect of the production, you’re more likely to have better accuracy and remove most imperfections that might mistakenly be passed on to the customer. This type of method is best suited for those projects where even a slight flaw in the product can cause a recall, such as when processing meat. It is, as expected, a costly measure that’s not applicable to every product.

Related: 10 Free Manufacturing Templates for Excel

Six Sigma

This quality control method works at improving current processes, products or services by discovering and eliminating defects in order to streamline manufacturing. The aim is that the manufacturing process will have little to no variance. Six sigma works by defining the problem, measuring the current process and analyzing the root cause of variations and defects to identify the issues. It improves processes by eliminating the root cause of these defects and controlling the process to stay on track.

X-Bar Chart

An X-bar chart is used in quality control to monitor the mean of successive samples of a constant size. The Y-axis tracks the degree to which the deviation of the tested attribute is acceptable. This control chart is used for characteristics that can be measured on a continuous scale. That includes such things as weight, temperature, thickness and so forth. It is, however, rarely used alone and is often coupled with an R-chart, which is used to determine the stability and predictability of a process.

Total Quality Management (TQM)

Total quality management is an approach to quality control that aims for long-term success by providing customers with satisfaction. The customer comes first and employees must own quality control for their part in the production. This is fostered through the creation and implementation of processes that find successful products and then repeat them. It also looks at system integration to streamline processes. It’s data-driven and is constantly seeking ways to improve.

Statistical Quality Control (SQC)

This method uses statistical data, such as sampling and probability, for quality control. First, a unit of the final product is sampled and tested to determine if the standards for quality have been met. The sample size can be increased to represent more products. Process sampling is also employed with a control chart to map the changes in manufacturing. This will identify tolerable limits in product variations. This will lead to the discovery of problems that will be addressed through corrective measures.

Taguchi Method

This quality control method is based on research and development, product designs and reducing defects and failures in the manufacturing process. Developed by the Japanese engineer and statistician Genichi Taguchi, this method focuses more on design than the manufacturing process when dealing with quality control. It aims to remove variances in production before they happen.

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Quality Control Roles

While everyone is often employed to maintain the quality of their piece of the larger manufacturing production, there are specific roles that are dedicated to quality control. Let’s look at three of the pivotal roles of quality control.

Quality Manager

This is a supervisory role, one that oversees the product development processes to make sure they’re meeting the quality and efficiency standards that have been set by the company and any regulatory groups. The quality manager works with clients to ensure that the final product meets their needs and requirements.

Quality Inspector

Under the quality manager will be a quality inspector who is responsible for making sure the manufactured products meet requirements from the company, regulators, customers, et al. They do this by testing products with tools and making sure the final product follows the guidelines that were developed by the company to ensure the product is safe and meets the needs of the customer without flaws.

Quality Engineer

Sometimes referred to as a QA engineer, QC engineer or senior quality specialist, a quality engineer works to ensure the overall quality of the manufactured product. They’ll test processes, monitor quality standards, create documentation, devise quality tests and define criteria that those tests should meet. They’re also responsible for fixing any problems they might find. They work with design teams, suppliers, manufacturing teams and customers to make sure the products produced are safe, reliable and meet customer expectations.

ProjectManager Helps with Quality Management

All of these quality control roles closely monitor the production processes and work to streamline them for greater efficiency while meeting quality standards. ProjectManager is online project management software that can do this in real time so you can respond to defects faster and resolve them quickly.

Automate Workflow to Streamline Production

Keeping teams focused on the important work ensures greater quality. Our workflow automation allows you to make a trigger that sets an action such as changing the tag, assignee and more instantly. To make sure that quality moves forward in the production line, set task approvals. Now before a status changes, the work is sent to a person with authority to approve it, ensuring quality control.

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Manage Risk and Track Issues

Knowing what might go wrong and having a plan to identify and resolve those issues is the basis of risk management. Our risk management feature allows you to track all risks in one place, assess their impact and likelihood, assign an owner and much more. This allows you to manage risks to your production and avoid unexpected impacts on your scope, cost and delivery. Display risk cards showing priority, assignee, and response and you can add attachments and comments in real time.

ProjectManager's risk card

Quality control managers can access customizable reports to get details on production and share updates with stakeholders. Our collaborative platform connects everyone across departments to foster better communication, which helps identify and resolve quality issues better. Our tool helps you plan your manufacturing, manage your resources and maintain the quality your customers want.

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ProjectManager is award-winning software that helps you plan, manage and track quality control. Use multiple project views to allow everyone to work on the tools they want while sharing real-time data for better collaboration and decision-making. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

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