Quality control and quality assurance are aspects of quality management. However, they have different areas of focus.
Quality control deals with issues after they develop. In contrast, quality assurance aims to prevent issues from developing.
Blending quality control and quality assurance elevates product safety, increases product confidence, and minimizes product breakdowns. This saves time and money in the manufacturing process. It also increases customer satisfaction, company revenue, and the bottom line.
Learn more about the key differences between quality control and quality assurance jobs and how to secure one.
Quality control focuses on the operations and inspections needed to fulfill quality requirements. This is essential for regulating a company’s outputs.
Monitoring the products helps maintain a high level of quality. This helps meet stakeholder expectations.
Primary methods of quality control include the following:
- Control charts and statistical methods are used to analyze how processes change over a given time.
- Process control uses chemical processes, feedback loops, industrial-level controls, or other technology to monitor and adjust specific processes to improve quality and output performance.
- Acceptance sampling uses statistical measurements to ensure a sample or batch of products meets company standards.
- Process protocol uses control charts to assess changes in manufacturing based on acceptable ranges for quality standards to improve design and implementation processes.
Quality assurance focuses on assuring managers, executives, customers, certifiers, regulators, government agencies, and other stakeholders that quality requirements are met. Monitoring current conditions to ensure they conform to regulatory requirements is essential.
Auditing for quality assurance involves evaluating the processes and sharing the information with management. The goal is to inform quality assurance decisions and help resolve any issues.
Reactivity vs Proactivity
Quality control is reactive. The process involves finding defects in a process, system, or output. This results in modifications and actions to resolve the issue.
Conversely, quality assurance is proactive. The goal is to adhere to rules, regulations, and standard operating procedures (SOPs) during the design process to prevent problems. This typically produces safe, efficient products and services.
Dedicated Workers vs Team Workers
Quality control workers individually follow SOPs and test products to ensure quality. They also document their findings to uncover areas that need improvement. In contrast, quality assurance workers collaborate to create the SOPs used for quality control.
Product vs Process
Quality control identifies product issues in multiple ways:
- Validation tests
- Batch inspections
- Lab tests
- Product samples
Conversely, quality assurance identifies product development issues in multiple ways:
- Employee training
- Supplier management
- Change control monitoring
Parts vs System
Quality control measures the parts of a system. This includes the product inputs, such as the raw materials from suppliers. For instance, a quality control worker might take a sample from a product batch to ensure the system is properly functioning. In contrast, quality assurance monitors and changes parts of the system.
Verification vs Qualification
Quality control verifies the safety of manufactured products before they are distributed. Conversely, quality assurance creates guidelines for producing quality products. This includes the standards, product design, packaging, manufacturing, distribution, and marketing and sales efforts.
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