Author: Jim Riley Last updated: Sunday 23 September, 2012
Quality control is the more traditional way that businesses have used to
manage quality. Quality control is concerned with checking and reviewing work that has been done. But is this the best way for
a business to manage quality?
Under traditional quality control, inspection of products and services (checking
to make sure that what's being produced is meeting the required standard)
takes place during and at the end of the operations process.
There are three main points during the production process when inspection
When raw materials are received prior to
Whilst products are going through the production process
When products are finished - inspection or testing takes
place before products are despatched to customers
The problem with this sort
inspection is that it doesn't work very well!
There are several problems with inspection under traditional
The inspection process does not add any "value". If there were any
guarantees that no defective output would be produced, then there would
be no need for an inspection process in the first place!
Inspection is costly, in terms of both tangible
and intangible costs. For example, materials, labour, time, employee
morale, customer goodwill, lost
It is sometimes done too late
in the production process. This often results in defective or non-acceptable
being received by the
It is usually done by the wrong
people - e.g. by a separate "quality
control inspection team" rather
than by the workers themselves
Inspection is often not compatible with more modern
production techniques (e.g. "Just in Time Manufacturing") which do
not allow time for much (if any) inspection.
Working capital is tied up in stocks which cannot be sold
There is often disagreement as
to what constitutes a "quality
product". For example, to meet quotas, inspectors may approve goods
that don't meet 100% conformance, giving the message to workers that
it doesn't matter if their work is a bit sloppy. Or
one quality control inspector may follow different procedures from
another, or use different measurements.
As a result of the above problems, many businesses have focused their efforts
on improving quality by implementing quality management techniques - which
emphasise the role of quality assurance. As Deming (a "quality guru") wrote:
"Inspection with the aim of finding the bad ones and throwing them
out is too late, ineffective, costly. Quality comes not from inspection but
from improvement of the process."