Quality control (QC) is a procedure or set of procedures intended to ensure that a manufactured product or performed service adheres to a defined set of quality criteria or meets the requirements of the client or customer. QC is similar to, but not identical with, quality assurance (QA). While QA refers to the confirmation that specified requirements have been met by a product or service, QC refers to the actual inspection of these elements.
QA is sometimes expressed together with QC as a single expression: quality assurance and control (QA/QC).
The quality control procedure
In order to implement an effective QC program, an enterprise must first decide which specific standards the product or service must meet. Then the extent of QC actions must be determined -- for example, the percentage of units to be tested from each lot.
Next, real-world data must be collected -- such as the percentage of units that fail -- and the results reported to management personnel. After this, corrective action must be decided upon and taken. For example, defective units must be repaired or rejected, and poor service repeated at no charge until the customer is satisfied. If too many unit failures or instances of poor service occur, a plan must be devised to improve the production or service process; then that plan must be put into action.
Finally, the QC process must be ongoing to ensure that remedial efforts, if required, have produced satisfactory results and to immediately detect recurrences or new instances of trouble.
See also: Total Quality Management
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