Before a product goes out to market or a shipment of parts is sent to a manufacturing partner, you first need to make sure they’re up to standards. Quality control is a vital part of designing or fabricating components to ensure not only that they can do the job expected of them, but also for proof that, if the part fails, you did your due diligence and the failure isn’t on you. The key, though, is to make sure your quality control itself is effective.
Define the Standards
To effectively assess the quality of a product, you first need to establish what quality means in this context. What function does the product serve? What conditions is it expected to function in? How long should it be able to hold up under regular use? What are some potential ways that the product could fail? These questions should be answered naturally in the design process, but it’s worth emphasizing them so you know what tests to perform.
Test at Multiple Stages
It’s not enough to test just the final product, because the manufacturing process has many points at which faults could occur. When a pipe exceeds proof pressure and springs a leak, is it because of the geometry of the pipe or the yield strength of the metal? Or perhaps the metal corroded when it shouldn’t have? This could be narrowed down by testing not just the component but also the raw materials and the greater system it’s made to be part of.
How to Handle Defects
When you do find a defect in testing, what do you do next? That should depend on what you’re manufacturing, the scope of production and how tested units failed. Do you need to halt production or just dispose of the defective parts? What’s the threshold of detected faults before a batch should be assumed to be bad? Can defective parts be reused or recycled? Decide on procedures to address questions like these so you’re prepared to act.