What Is a Quality Control Checklist and How You Can Build It
Manufacturers often want to know what the best way is to clarify their product requirements, both to their suppliers and a Quality Assurance Inspector that will check a product.
An effective quality control (QC) checklist most often serves this purpose. It is basically a written guide for a products’ contents, packaging, appearance, possible defects, functions, and special requirements.
Typically, each manufacturer has specific requirements for their product. That’s why it’s important for Quality Assurance Inspectors to tailor a Quality Control Checklist to their employer’s unique needs.
We’ll address why experienced Quality Assurance Inspectors rely on inspection checklists to communicate their quality standards to suppliers, production workers, and QC staff.
Five Key Elements of an Effective Quality Control Checklist:
- Product requirements
- Packaging requirements
- On-site product tests and checks
- Defect classification
- Collaboration between the manufacturer, suppliers, line assemblers and Quality Assurance Inspector in drafting inspection checklists
Why Manufacturers Need an Effective Quality Control Checklist
Experienced Quality Assurance Inspectors know that they need clear product requirements for their suppliers, or else they risk receiving a shipment that doesn’t meet their expectations. They also realize the need to provide the same requirements along with clear inspection criteria for their own use.
An effective Quality Control Checklist addresses both product requirements and inspection concerns by providing objective criteria for inspecting the products.
Let’s look at each of the five vital elements and discover what problems can be avoided by including them in your checklist.
- Product Requirements
Product requirements are the most obvious point to include in your Quality Control Checklist. And you will typically spend more time specifying their requirements for the product than any other aspect.
One of the most common reasons for suppliers or production workers not meeting requirements is that they don’t fully understand them. An effective QC checklist helps clear up any confusion surrounding product requirements. You’ll want to include these and any others in your QC checklist. Otherwise, you run the risk of people not knowing what you’ll be inspecting for.
- Packaging Requirements
Besides product requirements, experienced Quality Assurance Inspectors are aware of the need to clarify how their products should be packaged. After all, packaging not only protects a product during transit, but is also a part of product appearance and influences consumer perception.
So, it makes sense that you’d want to take care in specifying packaging, especially when manufacturing high-end or fragile products. By setting clear packaging requirements ahead of production, you can prevent undue damage to your product, while protecting your brand and consumers.
- On-Site Product Tests
Some manufacturers neglect on-site product tests and checks in their Quality Control Checklist. This is especially true of smaller companies without a dedicated Quality Assurance Inspector or someone with a similar background.
Without clearly outlining the procedure for any on-site tests to be performed and the related pass/fail criteria, you can’t be sure that QC staff will apply the right standard for your product. The result can be inaccurate reporting and the need to re-inspect the product using the correct criteria.
- Defect Classification
When a professional Quality Assurance Inspector conducts product inspection, one of the major aspects generally included in their report is any quality defects found and in what quantity. A product passes or fails inspection based on a combination of the frequency of such issues found, their severity and the manufacturer’s tolerance of issues.
Just as it helps to clarify on-site testing, it’s also important to list any known quality issues in the QC checklist and how they should be classified in the inspection report.
Experienced Quality Assurance Inspectors are typically aware of common quality defects for products. But there may be other issues you’ve experienced with the product that they haven’t seen before. And only by explicitly noting the issues the manufacturer wants reported will ensure the person checking your product will look for and document them.
If you haven’t specified in your checklist that these should be reported as major defects, they might be reported as minor. The result could be that the overall inspection result is “pass” when it actually should be “fail.”
If a manufacturer chooses the factory’s own QC staff to inspect the product, you’ll have opportunity to collaborate on the proper inspection method. If a manufacturer is bringing in someone from outside to inspect, it helps to work out the procedure together with the Quality Assurance Inspector beforehand.
Professional Quality Assurance Inspectors often have the knowledge and experience to greatly contribute to the criteria for checking the product.
When QC staff and production collaborate to develop a checklist, it helps ensure there are no surprises during inspection and the QC report is accurate. It’s also one of the easiest ways to be confident that all the people involved are looking at the product with the same pair of eyes.
Now that you’ve learned about the five essential elements to include in any effective Quality Control Checklist, you can begin to create your own.
Effective inspection checklists should begin with collaboration. Talk with suppliers. Explain your product expectations, your desire for a thorough inspection and what aspects of the product will be checked.
Discuss the inspection procedure with any outside QC staff if they will be checking your product. Find out what industry-standard, on-site tests, and checks, if any, they’d recommend conducting and on what sample size of products.
You likely will have your own quality expectations based on the product type, budget, and target market. And your checklist should reflect that.