Quality control, or QC for short, is a process by which entities review the quality of all factors involved in production. This approach places an emphasis on three aspects:
- Elements such as controls, job management, defined and well managed processes, performance and integrity criteria, and identification of records
- Competence, such as knowledge, skills, experience, and qualifications
- Soft elements, such as personnel, integrity, confidence, organizational culture, motivation, team spirit, and quality relationships.
Controls include product inspection, where every product is examined visually, and often using a stereo microscope for fine detail before the product is sold into the external market. Inspectors will be provided with lists and descriptions of unacceptable product defects such as cracks or surface blemishes for example.
The quality of the outputs is at risk if any of these three aspects is deficient in any way.
Quality control emphasizes testing of products to uncover defects and reporting to management who make the decision to allow or deny product release, whereas quality assurance attempts to improve and stabilize production (and associated processes) to avoid, or at least minimize, issues which led to the defect(s) in the first place. For contract work, particularly work awarded by government agencies, quality control issues are among the top reasons for not renewing a contract.
Total quality control
"Total quality control", also called total quality management, is an approach that extends beyond ordinary statistical quality control techniques and quality improvement methods. It implies a complete overview and re-evaluation of the specification of a product, rather than just considering a more limited set of changeable features within an existing product. If the original specification does not reflect the correct quality requirements, quality cannot be inspected or manufactured into the product. For instance, the design of a pressure vessel should include not only the material and dimensions, but also operating, environmental, safety, reliability and maintainability requirements, and documentation of findings about these requirements. Total Quality Management (TQM) refers to management methods used to enhance quality and productivity in business organizations. TQM is a comprehensive management approach that works horizontally across an organization, involving all departments and employees and extending backward and forward to include both suppliers and clients/customers. TQM is only one of many acronyms used to label management systems that focus on quality. Other acronyms include CQI (continuous quality improvement), SQC (statistical quality control), QFD (quality function deployment), QIDW (quality in daily work), TQC (total quality control), etc. Like many of these other systems, TQM provides a framework for implementing effective quality and productivity initiatives that can increase the profitability and competitiveness of organizations.
Quality control in project management
In project management, quality control requires the project manager and the project team to inspect the accomplished work to ensure its alignment with the project scope. In practice, projects typically have a dedicated quality control team which focuses on this area.
- Analytical quality control
- Corrective and Preventative Action (CAPA)
- First article inspection (FAI)
- Good Automated Manufacturing Practice (GAMP)
- Good manufacturing practice
- Standard operating procedure (SOP)
- Quality assurance
- Quality management framework
- Eight dimensions of quality
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