Quality control, or QC, is a set of practices instituted by many types of companies, though they may be most common in manufacturing enterprises. By creating a program of quality control methods, a company hopes to ensure that products and procedures are safe, consistent, and managed efficiently. There are many different quality control methods, including random checks, peer reviews, and charting.
Many experts suggest that the best quality control methods employ systems that require routine examination and review built into daily work. By consistently managing quality control, errors can be noticed and addressed faster. Those relying on only occasional quality checks or reviews may find themselves in serious trouble should a problem require a recall that could require the replacement of thousands or millions of products. Some experts recommend training employees in QC by peer review, so that consistent examination of quality is built right into the job description while not distracting workers from their primary tasks.
Random testing is a commonly used quality control practice. This involves randomly selecting a product and putting it through rigorous tests to be sure it is up to standard. The theory behind random checks is that a product pre-chosen for inspection may cause a change in the normal manufacturing routine that could create a sample that is not indicative of general quality. By using a process of random selection, a general sense of quality levels may be gained.
Charting is one of the most commonly used quality control methods. It involves using samples of product to create charts that report on a given characteristic of the product as compared to the desired standard. Using charting allows quality control personnel to see how controlled a process is over time, compared to the ideal. For instance, to measure if manufactured nails have heads of a consistent diameter, a chart might be made that examines 20 random samples over a day of production to see how close or how far they may be from the desired diameter. High levels of variation found through charting can be indicative of a process that is not well controlled.
Some quality control methods revolve around training and worker involvement in the QC process. A well-trained worker may not only be likely to make fewer mistakes, but may also be more likely to notice QC issues when they occur. Furthermore, if the workplace actively encourages input and feedback by employees on quality-related issues, workers may feel more comfortable bringing suggestions or noticed issues to the attention of management. By adequately training the workforce, quality control methods may become more effective.