Manufacturing businesses stand to lose a lot if they neglect their quality control duties. Such operations might ship subpar products, leading to customer dissatisfaction, a tarnished brand image, and depending on the industry, hefty fines from regulators. Additionally, product quality issues can cost manufacturers between 10-20% of their sales revenue on average.

To prevent quality issues from ocurring, manufacturers need to have a robust quality management system in place to ensure that items being produced meet the necessary standards. Additionally, manufacturers need to pay close attention to the quality of raw materials from suppliers, as substandard raw materials and inputs can also result in poor-quality products.

One of the best ways to catch and prevent quality issues is to use a quality control checklist. A standardized checklist provides manufacturers and inspection agents with particular features and criteria to keep an eye out for when determining product quality.

Whereas different products might have unique quality identifiers, many quality control checklists guide inspectors to similar issues.

In this post, we’ll discuss how manufacturers are using quality control checklists to consistently identify quality issues during the production process, allowing quality managers to address the source and prevent such occurrences from happening in the future.

What is a quality control checklist?

A quality control checklist, aslo referred to as an inspection checklist, is a standardized, step-by-step guide that defines and highlights key product requirements to ensure the product was built as intended. Many manufacturers use multiple checklists at different stages of production to identify nonconformances as they occur, preventing them from flowing downstream.

Using the checklists, manufacturers are able to identify the specific criteria that an individual part or product should meet, compare those specifications to the product they’re inspecting, and if the item falls outside of the standard measurements, removing it from the production process.

While this approach may seem simple, it is effective in its ability to prevent faulty parts from moving through the production facility and ultimately ending up in consumers’ hands.

Benefits of using a quality control checklist for manufacturing

As discussed, a quality inspection checklist plays an important role in a manufacturing operation’s quality management strategy. It provides manufacturers with a benchmark for production quality and a way to prevent defective products from getting into a client’s possession.

Here are the detailed benefits of using a quality control checklist for manufacturing:

Meet quality standards: In environments where manufacturers are required to align with specific product standards and regulations, a quality control checklist can be critical for ensuring products meet the necessary criteria.

A quality control checklist itemizes the specific inspection criteria, allowing manufacturers to track them throughout the production process. Additionally, manufacturers are able to use the checklist to help streamline their compliance efforts by demonstrating the measurements and testing that took place during production.

Improve communication with material suppliers: Manufacturers aim to source high-quality materials from suppliers to ensure the end product meets consumers’ expectations. As such, manufacturers provide specific quality standards to their suppliers to ensure that the materials meet the desired specifications needed for production.

When an item falls short of expectations, manufacturers can easily identify the source of the defect and address material issues with their suppliers accordingly.

Prevent human error and reduce waste: By incorporating a quality control checklist as part of the production process, operators are able to more easily and quickly identify defects and prevent them from contaminating or otherwise impacting subsequent steps in the manufacturing process.

This prevents additional waste from occurring later on down the line and improves the overall efficiency of the production process.

Improve customer satisfaction: Manufacturing businesses implement quality management systems to ensure that customers get products that meet or exceed their expectations. Quality control checklists allow inspectors and other personnel to prevent subpar products from being shipped out to customers.

Not only does this improve customer satisfaction, but it can also lead to repeat business and more brand mileage.

Drive continuous improvement: By using a quality control checklist, operators are able to identify errors as they occur in real-time, allowing them to identify root causes much more quickly and issue corrective actions to prevent issues from happening in the future.

Ultimately, reducing waste, improving production efficiency, and creating a culture of continuous improvement results in an increase in profitability for the business, allowing them to adapt to a dynamic business environment and remain competitive in their market.

Digitizing your quality control checklist

Given the benefits associated with utilizing quality control checklists, manufacturers should consider adopting this tool across their operations.

While many manufacturers use a traditional paper-based checklist to walk operators through their quality inspections, Tulip is able to digitize the quality inspection process with interactive checklists that provide a clear, streamlined method for walking through the inspection process.

Additionally, because the checklist is digitized and can be conducted on any tablet, computer, or mobile device, manufacturers are able to aggregate all of the data collected during quality inspections in their facilities and identify trends and recurring causes of failed quality checks. This can be incredibly useful when trying to pinpoint the source of quality issues across thousands of quality checks occurring in a single day.

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How to make a quality control checklist

When it comes to creating a quality inspection checklist, there is a lot to keep in mind. Here are some steps you can take to build out your own checklist to help streamline quality control.

Include an exhaustive list of product attributes: A quality control checklist should detail the various product attributes, defining the item clearly. This includes product raw materials, dimensions, weight and colors.

Additionally, the checklist should include markings and labelings like barcodes, trademarks and other regulator-defined labels.

Add packaging specifications: Manufacturers should be specific about their product packaging requirements. After all, packaging affects product quality during shipping and also presents serialization details in industries where regulators require such information.

Specifications included in quality control checklists can include details such as carton dimensions, weight, labelings and markings as well as the type of packaging material.

Include on-site product inspection and testing: Products should be inspected on-site to ensure that any defects and deviations can be intercepted before they proceed further down the chain.

It’s prudent to include your preferred inspection and testing methods to meet the desired criteria.

Be specific in flaw descriptions: Manufacturers should provide inspectors and quality officers with detailed definitions and guidelines for identifying and assessing product defects. This is because you might have specific criteria you expect your products or packaging to meet.

Therefore, it’s prudent to add specific details and criteria that classify and qualify flaws into minor, major and critical defects.

Collaborate with other integral parties: Quality control efforts are multi-disciplinary, requiring input from various personnel groups. For a more comprehensive quality control approach, the checklist requires input from the manufacturer, suppliers and the quality control department.

A simple quality control checklist template and example

In the following video, we’ll walk through how manufacturers are able to leverage Tulip to conduct a quality inspection of parts used in Stanley Black & Decker products.

Using Tulip, operators are able to walk through a comprehensive quality inspection process, guided by specific work instructions, images, and IoT device integrations.

If you’re interested in learning how Tulip can help you streamline your quality control procedures, reach out to a member of our team today for more information!

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