Quality Products International

The distinction between Quality Assurance, Quality Control and the QA – QC services offered by QPI

by on May.24, 2010, under China QC Inspection Blog

Quality Products International – QPI, provides a range of Factory Selection, Factory Auditing, Social Auditing, Product Development, Quality Assurance, DUPRO production inspection, Final Random Inspection / Pre Shipment Inspection, Container Loading Inspection and other related services in China, Asia, South East Asia / Fat East, relating to production and quality management.

One area of confusion is around the distinction between Quality Assurance and Quality Control. Some people falsely think they are in some way synonymous.

They are very closely related, in fact to be effective they are co-dependent, with a clear part A and part B. QPI certainly ensures both QA and QC are covered in any inspection or quality program that we are involved with.

Quality Assurance

This is the Part A of the two. In a fully integrated product development cycle, Quality Assurance is an ongoing event. It should be visited through the entire life of a project, and has production, post production and consumer feedback cycle.

QA typically is covered most heavily later in the product development phase, and ideally clearly defined and completed before the Quality Control Phase.

It is in essence the process of ensuring that a “good idea” is developed into a functional, viable, safe product, and determine what needs to be tested and checked in the production process.

IE> A factory owner may decide it is a good idea to make toys from soft metals.

A QA process would identify that lead often used in soft metals and is harmful to small children, which potentially will result in the good idea developing a bad product!

After the QA process determines that needs attention, the QC process would test the toys for lead. This is obviously a very narrow example, and many other elements are covered in a real QA – QC program.

Many QA programs will require test to be conducted, on raw materials, products drawn from production or finished goods.

They may be simple measurements or lab testing prove compliance / conformity with EN71, RoHS, REACH, EN13138 and many others.

QPI has a very close working relationship with TUV, ITS, SGS, Hanse Control and other labs, both locally in China, in Hong Kong and Europe.

Quality Control

This is the Part B of the two.

Where QPI has been involved in the Product Development phase, we can provide direct input for the QA process.

In many cases, a customer has developed the product and found the factory.

At QPI, each new inspection request is fully reviewed by a quality engineer to ensure that QA process has been clearly defined and recommend any perceived short falls.

Then the inspection elements and appropriate inspection protocols are defined in a check list, which is effectively the “work order” for the QC team.

There are a number of well defined protocols such as AQL (Acceptable Quality Level) that define how many units to test. Some customers request a 100% quality test.

In the case of our own inflatable brands Floaties and Hydrokids, we conduct a 24hr “stopper open” inflation test on 100% of the product to ensure there are no air leaks, including the 1st stage safety valve.

www.Hydrokids.com or Hydrokids Facebook Page

 

A full QC program will generally involve:

– Inward Quality Control – IQC, which includes testing raw materials, and recoding / tracking batch numbers.

– During Process testing and inspection – DUPRO which may be random, or at specific points. Such at the commencement of raw material printing, at the commencement of each shift, when machine operators change, etc. It provides a fantastic opportunity to remedy defects before rework leads to delays and costs.

– Final Random Inspection or Pre Shipment Inspection – FRI / PSI which is typically conducted when production is compete and most product is packed. For some this is the ONLY inspection, which on failure then means managing shipment delays, rework cost disputes, and or sub standard product.

– Container Loading Inspection, as simple as ensuring the product that was inspected is actually loaded, and that the container is loaded evenly to ensure safe shipment.

– Inspection Report the last and sometimes most important step. Apart from a ship or hold decision, it can prove a brand owner has acted with due care in the case of a product failure, and it provides key step in the feedback loop with the factory, especially where improvement is needed.

At QPI we can provide on the spot initial reports, and follow up with a full report. As with the checklist, the full report is reviewed and vetted by a senior QPI Quality Engineer to ensure the report is up to standard.

Typically the Inspection Report should feed back into to the ongoing QA process.

Where repeat orders are anticipated, QPI will normally recommend the client consider upgrades or greater attention to DURPO. Where the client is happy for factory to conduct DUPRO steps, QPI can often liaise directly with production line supervisors to ensure they understand how best to remedy an issue.

The QPI Inspector and Quality Engineer reviewing the report, will also comment on any changes that may be considered for testing or inspection.

Co-dependence of QA and QC

In effect, QA is the map, and QC is the production journey.

Without the journey through production where QC occurs, the QA map is an academic classroom navigation exercise. It can be done, but achieves nothing unless implemented through a QC program in production.

On the other hand a QC program unless preceded with an effective QA program, is like a journey without a map. It may be interesting but and may lead to a pleasant destination, a waste land. In a production environment it may mean that the goods arrive in the warehouse in a defective or un-saleable form……or worse, become part of a product failure litigation and / or product recall!

Most frustrating and disappointing is that a QC program without a QA program, would typically lead to product that looks, great is of high quality, but cannot be sold as it fails to meet legislated standards!

Among other things the QA program should define what needs to be tested and how it needs to be tested.

Please contact Quality Products International if you need assistance with any element of your supply chain.

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