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What is 'Quality Control'

Quality control is a process through which a business seeks to ensure that product quality is maintained or improved and manufacturing errors are reduced or eliminated. Quality control requires the business to create an environment in which both management and employees strive for perfection. This is done by training personnel, creating benchmarks for product quality, and testing products to check for statistically significant variations.

A major aspect of quality control is the establishment of well-defined controls. These controls help standardize both production and reactions to quality issues. Limiting room for error by specifying which production activities are to be completed by which personnel reduces the chance that employees will be involved in tasks for which they do not have adequate training.

BREAKING DOWN 'Quality Control'

Quality control involves testing of units and determining if they are within the specifications for the final product. The purpose of the testing is to determine any needs for corrective actions in the manufacturing process. Good quality control helps companies meet consumer demands for better products.

Quality testing involves each step of the manufacturing process. Employees often begin with the testing of raw materials, pull samples from along the manufacturing line and test the finished product. Testing at the various stages of manufacturing helps identify where a production problem is occurring and the remedial steps it requires to prevent it in the future.

Quality Control Measures Depend on the Product

The quality control a business uses is highly dependent on the product. In food and drug manufacturing, quality control includes ensuring the product does not make a consumer sick, so the company performs chemical and microbiological testing of samples from the production line. Because the appearance of prepared food affects consumer perception, the manufacturers may prepare the product according to its package directions for visual inspection. In the automobile manufacturing, quality control focuses on the way that parts fit together and interact and ensuring engines operate smoothly and efficiently. In electronics, testing might involve using meters that measure the flow of electricity.

The Role of Quality Control Inspectors

Quality control inspectors protect the consumer from defective products and the company from damage to its reputation due to inferior manufacturing processes. If the testing process reveals issues with the product, the inspector has the option of fixing the problem himself, returning the product for repairs or tagging the product for rejection. When issues arise, the inspector notifies supervisors and works with them to correct the problem.

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