Quality control is essential to ensure that products being produced align with specifications and meet basic standards of reliability and safety. As a result, businesses are best served by regularly carrying out a quality control inspection and quality assurance inspection across the production process to assess the current quality and address potential issues.
What is a Quality Control Inspection?
A quality control inspection is a process of evaluating products against a set of established manufacturing process standards and product specifications. These standards may come from international sources such as the ISO or may be part of the requirements in specific countries, states, or even municipalities. Quality control inspection teams are responsible for evaluating both incoming and outgoing products, identifying any defects, and reporting their findings to management and C-suite executives. If defects are significant enough, companies may need to temporarily pause production while processes are adjusted and tests are conducted. While this comes with a loss of productivity, it’s better than the alternative: Product failures leading to injury or death that necessitate immediate action.
By regularly assessing quality at multiple points along the production chain, it’s possible for companies to identify potential pain points that could be contributing to product issues, and take actions to rectify these issues before they result in product recalls.
Five Common Types of Quality Control Inspections
When it comes to quality control inspections, you’ve got a choice. Your teams can assess products at any point in their lifecycle where you believe there might be an issue. For example, if you’ve just purchased a new production line device and want to make sure it’s working as intended, you might assign a quality inspection team to conduct a quality control assessment and ensure the device is working as intended. Or, if you’ve just switched suppliers you may want to conduct an inspection of their first few shipments to confirm that the quality is both as expected and consistent across batches.
Although every company is different, there are five common types of quality control inspections often used to evaluate operations.
Supplier inspections are also called pre-production inspections. Here, teams evaluate the raw materials or products sent along your supply chain. Do they match provided specifications? Are they as durable/flexible/functional as claimed? Are they consistent across batches? Supplier inspections help ensure that your production processes aren’t hampered by low-quality materials and provide you with an inspection report you can take to suppliers for corrective action.
First Article Inspections
First article inspections happen after the first products are produced by your production line. By assessing the first mass production run of manufactured products, teams can compare output to stated product quality specifications and make recommendations for any necessary corrective action.
Inter-production inspections typically happen when between 30% and 50% of a mass production run has been completed. This allows teams to collect real-time data and ensure that quality hasn’t degraded over the course of the production run.
The pre-shipment inspection often occurs when at least 80% of the run is finished and goods are being packed for shipment. Using a random sample method, quality control inspectors can get a general sense of product consistency and remove any faulty products.
Container Loading Inspections
Finally, container loading inspection processes happen after all other quality control inspections have been completed, and focus on ensuring that finished products are packed correctly. It also offers one last chance before shipping to discover any damages or defects in final products.
How do You Leverage the Benefits of a Quality Control Inspection?
The benefits of an effective quality control inspection include greater confidence that products entering or leaving your facility meet all applicable quality standards, along with the ability to document these findings for the purpose of reporting and auditing, in turn ensuring that your quality management system is up to date.
But how do you leverage these benefits in practice? It starts by identifying areas of potential concern using inspection checklists. Here, options such as a Gemba Walk Checklist or the ISO 9001: 2015 Evaluation Audit Checklist can help pinpoint product processes that are worth a closer look. Then, you can determine where in the product lifecycle these concerns fall: Are they supplier issues? Inter-production problems? Pre-shipment concerns? Once you know what you’re looking for and where it’s happening in your production framework, you can assign a quality control inspection team to carry about the applicable inspection type and report the results.
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