Suppose your prototypes and first small run of product sells out in record time. Now it’s time to invest in your first mass production run. How do you ensure the millionth item produced is the same as the first in form, fit and function? How do you find and remove any defective parts? The answer is to have and to communicate clear, objective quality control (QC) processes. Quality control consists of three components: incoming, in-process and outgoing.
Incoming Quality Control Processes
As the name suggests, Incoming Quality Control refers to the inspection and testing of materials and assemblies supplied by vendors. This is a critical step designed to remove any defects before they enter the production process. Testers must inspect incoming parts and materials visually and test them dimensionally and functionally, often by sampling the lot.
In-Process Quality Control Processes
In-Process Quality Control is performed on an ongoing basis, at specific points in the manufacturing process. This step is designed to catch defects in manufacturing, particularly where labor is added directly to the part or assembly. This step includes visual and functional testing, and critical functions should be subject to 100% test (every item tested). In-Process tests should be simple and quick to perform by even an inexperienced operator and produce obvious binary (i.e. pass/fail) results. Data should be collected on every test point and the data continually used to evaluate and improve the manufacturing process.
Final Quality Control Processes
The last step before the factory packs and ships completed parts or assemblies is critical. Like in-process testing, this step includes visual and functional testing, but because changes are made at every step in the productions process, the final test is not redundant, but rather a validation of the entire process. Destructive testing, testing carried out to the point of failure, at this point helps ensure the product remains within spec throughout the entire mass production process.
Quality Control Processes for Mass Production
Effective quality control processes require solid planning and implementation work. Effort more than pays for itself by allowing the manufacturer to avoid returns and recalls. It can also prevent possible reputation damage to your company. Companies should design, implement and maintain processes to suit specific products and markets.
We look forward to helping you improve quality with a custom-tailored program.