The Difference Between Quality Control & Quality Assurance
Product quality is the most important aspect of manufacturing for the majority of brands. However, there is a big difference between quality control and quality assurance when manufacturing a product. The ISO (International Organization for Standardization) defines quality control (QC) as, “…fulfilling quality requirements.” Whereas, quality assurance (QA) is defined as, “…providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled.” While the difference is subtle, understanding it can prevent you from losing millions of dollars on defective products.
Quality Control or Bare Minimum?
When creating any product at a factory, quality standards are clearly defined before production begins. The purpose of a quality team is to ensure the people (or machines) making your product are consistently meeting your quality requirements during production. The process of inspecting a sample of finished products is typically referred to as quality control and is a vital step in the production process.
Most factories have their own in-house quality control team. However, the depth of inspection from internal QC teams varies significantly. In-house inspectors have little incentive to fail mediocre products because doing so means they lose time and money redoing them. When this happens, you will be in the dark about your high defect rate until the product arrives. Even worse is not catching defects and sending those products to your customers.
Infamously, Samsung recalled 2.5 million phones in 2016 due to battery defects. Estimated to be worth 10 billion dollars, the company stopped sales and production after the batteries overheated and exploded. This resulted in a slew of lawsuits, lost Samsung billions, and severely damaged their brand reputation. If Samsung had a better inspection process during production, these phones would have never made it to their customers.
Samsung is a huge corporation and was able to rebound after this disaster. Small and medium sized brands would not have survived such a mistake.
Quality Assurance Is Proactive
Quality assurance is similar to quality control, but goes the extra mile to ensure defect rates are kept to a minimum. Unlike most QC teams, quality assurance teams are typically a third-party group that have no connection to the factory they are inspecting. This allows them to assess quality in an unbiased manner. Effective QA takes a proactive approach to quality control, aiming to prevent defects before they occur. QC teams, on the other hand, focus on reacting to defects and sorting them out.
While QA teams typically require a larger financial investment, they are a relatively small price to pay to avoid a high defect rate, which can ultimately be much more costly and damaging to your business. In fact, brands that sell on Amazon can have their Amazon storefront suspended or even deactivated if their defect rate goes over 1%. Relying on standard factory QC is risky for any brand, but especially for Amazon sellers.
QC vs. QA Recap
The difference between QC and QA is subtle, but the impact can be monumentenous. Preventative QA helps to predict potential manufacturing risks and prevent quality defects. Only having quality control may seem acceptable, but the risks are costly. Product quality is top priority for your consumers and vital for a scaling business. Managing QA can be complex, but working with Blacksmith guarantees you unbiased quality assurance and a defect rate that is minimal. Want to learn more about how Blacksmith guarantees quality assurance? Contact us today.
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