You already know just how important it is to build a design and testing plan that is true to the concept you are looking to produce. But it is just as important to add a manufacturing quality control plan to help guide your project toward a more successful conclusion. Doing so requires you to develop an understanding of the underlying task that makes up an effective quality control strategy; one that leaves no stone unturned and a worry-free rollout once production begins.
Knowing That Quality Assurance Is Different from Quality Control
It is all too common to hear the terms quality assurance and quality control used interchangeably. But these terms have two very different meanings, and it is important that you understand these differences before devising plans for your product’s quality controls.
|Quality control is more closely-related to inspecting the final product itself, while quality assurance relates to the production processes.|
It is very likely that you have both ideas in mind during the design and testing stages of product development. However, the emphasis naturally shifts from quality assurance and into quality control the closer the product gets to final testing before reaching the production stage. It is safe to say that these two terms have many areas where processes intersect, meaning that you will need to fine-tune both to produce a superior quality product.
Automating and Process Scripting Simplifies Quality Controls
Automating the tasks surrounding the quality control process does more than just add cost and time-saving efficiencies into the manufacturing process. It creates scripted processes that yield stronger, more accurate products that can endure above and beyond customer expectations. The introduction of scripted and largely automated quality control processes presents manufacturing projects with several improvements to the quality of the final product.
Almost every product is designed with exact measurements, part placements, and final assembly steps all concisely laid out. Automating manufacturing processes can lead to:
- Increased accuracy in repetition tasks to ensure a consistent final product.
- Reduction of issues caused by human errors.
- Increased visibility for your project team into where potential defects may lie. For example, quickly identifying potential breaking points in products before they are boxed and shipped.
Inspecting a Product Is Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Performing a quality inspection is the fundamental pillar of a strong quality control plan. Inspections should be performed after every manufacturing stage a product must go through to be built, which ensures that a high level of quality is being maintained across the board. There are several steps that must be performed during each stage of inspection, including:
- Measurement verification
- Assembly examination
- Testing in each product stage against design-specified performance requirements
- Confirmation of product characteristics
- Ensuring raw materials meet quality expectations
By performing these important quality control checks every step of the way, defects can be detected and addressed before they become a problem for the customer and your brand. Doing this reduces support costs due to warranty or recall issues, and creates a broader library of data that can be utilized to make precise improvements to future product lines. Performing these steps during an inspection will open up the channels of communication across all members of the production team.
Making Accountability the Norm in Your Projects
The ribbon that ties together quality control procedures and actions is the documentation of results. Recorded results lead to greater project visibility and ultimately ensure the accountability of every moving part and measurement no matter the design or production stage. It may be tempting to develop a simple accountability system, such as email chains, but these will quickly be outgrown and turn into chaos as a manufacturing project moves forward.
Instead, use the same automation tools used during the quality control process to gain a firmer grasp over task hand-offs, results, and responses. An ideal quality control accountability system will include tracking for raw material supplier performance, discovered quality issues, and will provide seamless communications. The timeliness of reporting, plus the ability to mine data to determine quality control patterns will lead to better production scheduling, improved customer service, and a capable product.
Using a Partner Leads to Superior Manufacturing Quality Control Strategies
It is no secret just how important having a strong quality control strategy can be to the successful development and production of a product. Despite this knowledge, many designers make cuts in this area in efforts to reduce costs or time, but these instead lead to opposite results. In order to maximize the efficiency of the quality control process and to maintain a sharp eye on a budget, consider adding a local manufacturing partner to your project team.
PRL is an end-to-end manufacturer—we pride ourselves on handling every aspect of the process for our partners. Our experts are here to guide you through each step of design, prototyping, customer analysis, development, manufacturing, and delivery.