Tools & Techniques for Measuring Quality

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Measuring Quality with Charts
Measuring Quality with Charts (Image: financial charts image by Chad McDermott from Fotolia.com)

Quality control is an important issue in manufacturing, and using expert tools and techniques for measuring quality can ensure your product is well-received by your customers and passes any necessary government inspections. Techniques can vary depending on your type of business, but the goal of all the tools is production of a high-quality product.

Inspection

Inspection is a critical part of measuring quality, and for small operations, random product testing can be an effective technique. Statistical sampling, a method using mathematics and the science of probability, is best for large-volume production where you have enough samples to compare to the whole. Many software programs and other tools are available for doing this type of inspection. The product can also be evaluated to see if it conforms to predetermined criteria, perhaps by going over a checklist of required functions and physical attributes.

Testing

One type of product testing is failure testing where the product is tested to its limits and beyond to evaluate where it will stop functioning as intended. These usually include stressing the mechanical properties of the product such as material strength, elasticity and impact resistance. Tests for vibration and temperature might also be conducted. Which tests to use are determined by the product, its use and the time and financial constraints of the business.

Process Control and Ownership

Everyone involved in the manufacturing of the product or in providing the service should be encouraged to take ownership of a part of the process. Businesses can take this concept even further and get the entire company on board with the concept of quality control. Given the responsibility, employees will take more pride in their work and strive to have a successful outcome to the job for which they’re responsible. Managers, employees and vendors need to provide firm commitments for deliveries and completion of milestones. The process flow can be monitored by a project manager who will coordinate the involved parties and ensure deadlines are met, or that the process is running smoothly. For large operations, software tools are available that incorporate Statistical Process Control methods.

Control Charts

Charts can be an effective tool when it comes to evaluating your product’s quality. The use of the two basic types of statistical charts—univariate and multivariate—depends on the number of characteristics you will be measuring. The univariate chart displays one characteristic and the multivariate chart is used when multiple characteristics nee to be evaluated. Other types of charts that can be useful include trend charting, Pareto bar charts that allow you to prioritize quality improvements and a scatter diagram that can show the relationship between an actual product and the standard.

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