Why Quality Control Does Not Necessarily Improve Quality

Examining quality control and the element it’s often missing to become effective.

Quality is a hot-button issue in manufacturing. That’s because many companies understand that poor quality carries with it great cost. However, even though this understanding generally exists, most companies are unaware of the true cost of poor quality.

Quality Control is a process that consists of checkpoints in the production process that verify the product or parts for failures or defects. These are graded against a set of guidelines that are usually established by the product and engineering teams. The problem is, even with good, effective Quality Control checkpoints, the overall quality of the company will not necessarily improve.

Quality control is reactive

The process of quality control exists to ensure that the output meets the specifications or expectations of the original design. It comes after the creation of the initial manufacturing process and does not care about the process, just the results. This means that quality control is a reactive process. Because it is in the later stages of the production phase, it is one of the most expensive stages of the cost of quality. For more information about the true costs of quality, download our whitepaper.

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Many quality control processes can be efficient and lead to improvements in the overall process. However, many times they only exist to ensure that defective products do not progress through to the end consumer. This is because these processes do not include a “feedback loop” to find an eliminate the original source of the problem.

A feedback loop is crucial to understanding and learning ways to improve the original production process. This way future quality improvements can be designed into the process.

Eliminating quality control with quality assurance

Yes, eliminating quality control is possible. Not only is it possible, but it should be the goal of any company striving to become as lean as possible. Every step in a process consumes time, labor, and adds to overhead. In manufacturing, eliminating unnecessary steps reduces these factors which in turn increases service levels to the customer. Lead times are shorter, and costs are reduced. In turn, companies can be more competitive and scalable or invest working capital into growing their business.

However, this can only be achieved if quality is designed into the system. Manufacturing cannot simply remove quality control and expect to see good results. The process has to be designed to prevent quality issues in the first place. This is quality assurance.

Quality assurance done well exists to prevent defects by choosing the correct process for manufacturing. This is a proactive process as opposed to the reactive process of quality control. Crucial to its effectiveness is a deep knowledge on manufacturing processes and which operations are needed for specific types of end product. If the correct process is used, quality increases.

AMS Mechanical Design

Design as a type of quality assurance

Manufacturability is a type of quality assurance. When the product is designed to adhere to the principles of a particular type of manufacturing, quality is improved. For example, the injection molding process requires that plastics be ejected from a mold before the next part can be produced. If certain features are not designed into the model, such as draft angles or ejector pins, these products may be very time consuming to manufacture. Additionally, the chances of low-yield and defects are also increased.

The proper quality assurance works backwards to conventional thinking. It increases quality while also decreasing costs. 

By understanding the processes of manufacturing, these issues can be mitigated and the quality increased. This is why quality assurance is a proactive process. Choosing the right process and understanding the design principles needed for that process are crucial to achieving good quality assurance.

How we achieve quality

At AMS, we have achieved unheard of levels of quality. This is partly because we include DFM (design for manufacturability) in every product we make. While these are only suggestions, the majority of the time our customers accept the suggested changes and we implement them into the process.

Without the proper spec, however, DFM accomplishes nothing. We combine our deep understanding of manufacturing process with an almost fanatical adherence to specification. When done correctly, quality levels soar while also decreasing the overall costs.

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Our DFM is always complimentary, and therefore no risk to you. We would love nothing more than to see how we can build success for your company.