How To Identify and Avoid Quality Control Issues

Pooria Sohi Pooria Sohi January 27, 2023

8 min read

Check out our detailed guide on identifying and avoiding common quality control issues with the help of Autodesk Fusion Operations.

quality-control-factory-floor-prodsmart

Quality control (QC) is a vital part of every business. No matter what you’re selling or which service you are providing, QC issues need to be caught before reaching the client. 

In the era of social media, people are increasingly taking their quality control complaints to popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp. The ability to tag companies increases the impact of online customer reviews

As a business, you owe it to your customers to have quality control process steps in place. Don’t ruin your brand by being careless. Keep reading for our complete guide to identifying and avoiding common QC issues. 

What is quality control?

The role of your QC team is to understand every aspect of the product, from design to shipping. How the machines work, what goes into the assembly, and when human hands touch the product.

Their role is to inspect at every level of the production process to control the outcome. If you are receiving numerous complaints and returns, chances are the problem is in your quality control processes and not necessarily the production line.

If issues are getting past your QC team, they are not operating to the highest standard.

What are the four types of quality control?

There are four types of quality control businesses need to look at as they begin to explore ways to address quality concerns. The following are core topics to address.

1. Performance Training

Are your employees trained properly? Whether it’s the marketing team, the CSR, the production team, or the shipping team, employees must be given the tools they need to succeed. 

2. Process Control

How are you keeping tabs on your processes? What worked ten years ago may not be as efficient today. There are many advances in technology to help measure your processes and performance. Manufacturing software like Fusion Operations can help you to keep track of your production.

3. Product Inspection

Who is inspecting your final product? Visual and manual inspections are crucial, but technology does a lot to minimize the natural pitfalls of human error.

4. Promise to the Customer

What are you promising your customers? Customers can be both internal and external. Do not overextend what you’re actually capable of delivering.  By tracking your performance in real-time, you can exactly predict and prevent any delay in your deliveries.

Common quality control issues

There are three commonly missed QC issues most businesses can eliminate if they create a quality assurance plan. Once you have identified where issues exist, you can start strategizing on how to capture where the problem starts and prevent them from happening. 

1. Safety Defects

We often hear about safety defects when it comes to motor vehicles. A manufacturer that has received enough complaints about a part malfunctioning will issue a recall. Safety defects occur in many products. This is why extensive testing must be conducted to eliminate potential harm to consumers. 

2. Functionality Defects

This type of defect occurs in devices that require a product to function when the user does something. For example, if you hit the camera icon on your smartphone and the app doesn’t open, there is a defect in the device.

Functionality defects can also occur in non-technological settings. A ceiling fan that doesn’t change speeds when the chain is pulled is one example.   

3. Visual/Aesthetic Defects

Visual defects can be a nick or cut in a shelving unit, a snag in a sweater, or a scratch in the finish on an appliance. These types of defects are most likely due to human error. It’s important to review your packing and shipping process to stop them from happening.  

Why do quality control issues occur in the first place?

The reasons why QC issues occur are based on many factors. Here, we touch on the most common reasons. 

1. Too Many Manual Tasks

In an era of automation, many manual tasks were eliminated. As long as machines are carefully and correctly calibrated, mistakes are diminished. This is true in a lot of situations, but there are still job functions that rely on manual labor. In these areas, extra checks and balances are needed to inspect the work being done and the finished product.

2. Cutting corners

Taking shortcuts may get you to the finish line quicker, but it doesn’t mean every step was covered in the process. Companies should not risk the quality of their product to increase the quantity produced. 

On the other side, sound QC practices will capture instances in the workflow where employees are taking shortcuts that impact the quality being produced.

Taking shortcuts does not always save the company money. In certain instances, it costs more in the run because the work has to be redone.

3. Avoiding Conflict

In business, there will be times when you must make tough decisions. Sometimes, to avoid conflict with external partners such as distributors or salespeople, a business owner may overlook quality defects.

It is better to stand for what is right, even if it means damaging a partnership. Your integrity is important in your industry. You also must keep at the forefront the promises made to your customers. 

4. Wrong Calibration

In quality assurance management, calibration comes into play when measuring machinery output to the standards set by the manufacturer and the industry. 

If either the data used to measure the calibration is wrong, or your team is not following the standards, it will ultimately impact the quality of your product. It can also cause extensive wear and tear on the machinery. The end result could be damage to equipment and production downtime. 

5. Human Error

Human error is often unavoidable. Carelessness in the workplace is attributed to different factors.

Overworked employees are more likely to make mistakes. Employee dissatisfaction with their job, pay, or schedule leads to an emotional detachment from their level of engagement and can lead to workplace accidents. Employees that are tasked with too many responsibilities are also prone to make more mistakes.   

Setting unrealistic goals and deadlines will also eventually lead to errors in production that will impact the quality of work produced. Employers must set expectations that are reasonable and attainable. Rushing employees to complete complex tasks is a no-win situation if the client is not happy with the end result. 

How to avoid quality control issues

The ball is in your court regarding accountability in your quality control processes. Your company has the capability to set the standards you want to achieve. 

Focus on these four steps, and you will see immediate results. 

1. Categorizing/Cataloging Defects

Documenting QC defects is a great way to determine if there is a pattern and explore ways to self-correct. By cataloging items, you also have the information needed to make sound business decisions when it is time to review processes and renew contracts.

If you are experiencing issues with machinery, the distributor will need to know exactly what is happening. This information will be beneficial in negotiating refunds or future credits. In the event of legal action, you’ll have data supporting your claims.

In order to document QC flaws more effectively, you can use Fusion Operations to record wastes and defects.

2. Ensuring Accountability

Quality assurance means requiring accountability from your stakeholders. In business, stakeholders are anyone responsible for getting a process from point A to point B. 

It is not enough to recognize QC issues; you must also come up with a strategy to ensure they do not continue to happen. This can come in loss of incentives, disciplinary action for team members, or contract cancellations for vendors.  

3. Improving Operational Guidelines

Every business needs Standard Operating Procedures. As you’re looking to set standards in quality control methods, it is also a good time to update your SOP manual. 

This process makes it clear to employees and management what is expected and the steps to take to reach compliance. Set goals and reassess the progress at established intervals.

4. Automating Processes

With technology comes the opportunity to automate manual processes. Some people shy away from automation because they view it as a way to eliminate jobs. This is not always the case.

In many instances, automating processes helps a business run more efficiently while increasing production. Another positive is it opens new channels of opportunity for employees to learn new skills and move into more rewarding positions.

For businesses to reduce and eliminate QC issues they must take advantage of new-age inventions.

How Autodesk Fusion Operations can help

To take control of your QC processes, you’ll need tools to help you reach your goals. At Fusion Operations, we have a suite of features to help you manage your operations.

We offer:

Our platform is customizable to meet your processes and needs, and it adapts to over 20 different industries. Best of all, Fusion Operations isn’t just a tool. We also offer training and consultation to ensure successful implementation. In addition, you can fully integrate Fusion Operations into the productivity software your business is already using. 

Thinking long term

QC issues do not have to be the demise of your business. Addressing concerns and working towards long-term solutions is the key to your future success.

The guide you just read will get you on your way to understanding the different types of quality control your business needs. Remember, QC is not just about machinery or products; it’s also about administrative operations.

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