For every manufacturer, quality assurance is an important part of building a reputable brand and gaining the trust of customers. While quality standards vary from one industry to another, the means for testing product quality are fairly standard. There are many different types of quality control and by taking multiple steps to check quality, companies can increase their chances of becoming known for offering consistently reliable products. This can, in turn, result in an increase in return customers as well as word-of-mouth marketing.
One of the best overall quality control methods is to institute a company-wide quality control policy. This policy should make it clear that product quality is a high priority, and should assign employees tasks for checking product quality at all stages, from design to manufacture and finishing. Giving employees a convenient means of reporting quality problems or defects can lead to early detection and can save money in the long term. After all, it is far more inexpensive to fix a problem with a design at the design stage than repairing or fully discarding completed products with a built-in design.
Testing prototypes is a quality checking method that relies on real-world testing by employees and their families, or by potential customers selected from the general public. Prototype products should be as close as possible to production versions, and users should be asked to fill out surveys or report problems with the product.
For example, if you own a shoe company and want to ensure that your shoes will hold up to real world conditions, you can send employees home with pairs for themselves and their families. After a set period, for example, a month or three months, ask them to bring the shoes back in and answer some survey questions about how often they wore them, what activities they performed in them and how comfortable and supportive they found the shoes.
Failure testing, or stress testing, is one of the most common quality check methods for industrial products. Factories often contain a special area for failure testing, where products are subjected to repeated use and misuse until they fail in some way.
This testing can include subjecting the products to extreme temperatures, submerging electronic devices in water, and crushing or dropping products. Mattress testing, for example, involves repeatedly pressing weights on the mattress to see how it will hold up to wear after a long period.
Failure testing not only gives manufacturers an idea of how much a product can endure, but also gives them knowledge about what the form the failure will take and whether or not the broken product will represent a safety risk.
Continuous quality checking should also occur at the point of manufacturing. Employees who perform quality checks in a factory may look for defects at several stages of production, or check random samplings of products at the end of the process. Measuring tools can serve to check whether products meet certain quality standards in terms of size or shape, and a simple visual inspection can ensure that no severely flawed products leave the factory.