What Is Quality Control?

This QC system of processes includes controlling and effectively managing all the incoming materials, tasks, human activities, equipment, machines, automation, statistical process control, etc. to ensure that each step in the process satisfies the specific standards.

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Quality can be controlled throughout the entire process. The sooner in the process quality errors are detected the better and more effective the QC is. For example, if a production process has 7 steps it is less costly to identify any defects or errors in step 1 compared to identifying defects in the final product.

As a result QC is an organized system of quality management and quality control methods managed on a continuous basis just like any other production and business system within the organization.

An effective quality control system includes management techniques and quality tools as well as continuous education and training for the quality control professionals and also for all employees involved in the production and value added process in the company.

Common quality control techniques include inspection of incoming materials, inspection of final products, statistical process control and using various quality tools to identify any discrepancies on time.

Being a continuous management process, in quality control the DMAIC approach is frequently used to outline the approach of managing information, data and decision making as a whole:

DMAIC means define, measure, analyze, improve and control - it is a 5-step continuous process for developing and managing QC systems.

Define means setting the plan and objectives or purpose of the QC system. Measure means understanding the business processes and setting up the measurement system. Analyze means converting the collected data into useful information for making informed decisions. Improve means acting on the information to improve the system and its processes. Control means making sure everything works as expected and identifying any issues or problems on time.

However quality management and control is more than a technical system or measurement approach, but it is a management philosophy which is necessary for any organization in business which aspires to achieve above average results.

A great example for understanding the management philosophy behind a truly successful quality system is to use the 14 elements of management as described by the quality guru Dr. W. Edwards Deming.

The Deming’s 14 management elements are:

  1. Creating consistency of purpose
  2. Adopt the philosophy to refuse to accept any errors and defects
  3. Cease the dependence on mass inspections because is ineffective and costly
  4. Stop doing business based primarily on price tag – it will cost you more in long term
  5. Adopt the continuous improvement approach and make improvements as an ongoing strategy
  6. Use effective education and training on the job
  7. Give the employees the tools they need to do a great job
  8. Drive out fear so everyone communicate and work effectively
  9. Encourage cross-functional cooperation and people from across organizational departments to work together on problem solving
  10. Don’t use specific goals and slogans that push employees constantly to achieve higher productivity without providing specific support and methods
  11. Apply statistical methods to continually improve the quality and productivity
  12. Remove all existing barriers to pride in workmanship
  13. Provide ongoing retraining
  14. Clearly demonstrate management commitment to each of the 13 elements above

One of the frequently used tools in quality management are SPC control charts. Statistical process control has been originally used for control of processes primarily within manufacturing organizations.

Having said that since introduction of the use of process analysis as well as greatly recognition of business processes in service industries, the use of SPC graphs has grown in numerous other industries too.

These days, SPC is constantly utilized for quality enhancement and used in financial institutions, health care companies as well as virtually all sorts of businesses from small enterprises to big business operations.

The advantages of SPC graphs are usually identified by many organizations simply because they enable quality professionals to recognize, evaluate and enhance their processes by utilizing control charts that indicate if processes have been in control and also identify instantly if something is not on track along the way.

Efficient process analysis can help you save lots of money through reducing process issues as well as product issues and consequently significantly improve the overall quality and increase customer satisfaction.

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