30 Quality Control Business Terms
In the realm of business, communication is akin to a warp thread that when carefully woven, forms the intricate tapestry of success. Nowhere is this more vital than in the multifaceted world of quality control, where the right nuances of speech can convey precision, reliability, and professional excellence. Are your business savvy and lexicon alike primed for the quality control journey? In this comprehensive article, we’re breaking down 30 must-know terms to sharpen your verbal skills and elevate your understanding of this cornerstone in the modern business environment.
Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control
First things first—clearing the air on a common misconception. Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC) are not the same. While QA is process-oriented, focusing on planning and preventing defects, QC is product-oriented and concerns detecting and fixing defects. Both are integral elements of an effective quality management system (QMS), but they serve different functions.
Statistical Process Control (SPC)
SPC is a method of quality control which employs statistical methods to monitor and control a process. Used to ensure that a process is a predictable state, it involves a continual and robust review of the system, graphically plotting data points to see trends and establish control limits.
Six Sigma is a data-driven methodology for eliminating defects in any process—from manufacturing to transactional and from product to service. The goal of Six Sigma is to produce a product or service with less than 3.4 defects per million opportunities for error.
This is a measure of how fast a customer uses a company’s products. In production, it’s used to define the pace of production to meet customer demand.
Kaizen, which translates to ‘change for better’, is a philosophy that focuses on continuous improvement throughout all aspects of life. When applied to business, it means reducing waste, eliminating excess, and striving for a leaner, more efficient operation.
In the realm of quality control, a defect is any flaw or imperfection that hinders the functionality, performance, or appearance of a product. It can be a minor inconsistency or a major issue rendering the product unusable.
Standard deviation is a measure used to quantify the amount of variation or dispersion of a set of values. In quality control, it helps us understand the amount of variation in a process or product—low standard deviation indicates that the data points tend to be close to the mean, while a high standard deviation signifies that the data are spread out over a large range.
Capability indices, such as Cpk and Ppk, are statistical measures to keep a description of the process when running in control in a form that enables one to compare product quality performance against specification limits.
Gauge Repeatability and Reproducibility (Gauge R&R) is a statistical tool used to determine the amount of measurement variation in a measurement system consisting of a single product measured by different operators with the same gauge.
Attribute data is a form of data that measures qualitative data that can be counted for meaningful operations. In quality control, this is often used to measure pass/fail criteria or counts of defects.
Continuous measurement data is data that can be measured at various precision levels, which include decimal counting, such as weight and length measurements.
Root Cause Analysis
Root cause analysis is a collective term that describes a range of approaches, methods, and techniques used to uncover the root causes of problems. In quality control, it’s a critical tool for ensuring that corrective actions are addressing the fundamental issues leading to defects.
Poka-Yoke is a Japanese term for a mistake-proofing mechanism in manufacturing processes. It aims to eliminate mistakes and defects through preventing, correcting, or highlighting errors as they occur.
Originating from the Japanese word for ‘lantern’, an andon is a visual control device used in manufacturing to indicate production status or if an issue has occurred.
Control charts are typically used for time-ordered data to determine if a process is in a state of statistical control. They’re highly effective for monitoring quality and making sure the process is stable before and after improvement activities.
The Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, states that, for many outcomes, roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes. In quality control, this principle helps to prioritize problems so that the most significant and frequent issues can be addressed first.
Lean manufacturing revolves around the minimization of waste within manufacturing systems. By optimizing productivity and reducing overburden on employees and resources, lean principles can enhance quality levels significantly.
There are seven types of waste identified in lean manufacturing: overproduction, waiting, transportation, over-processing, inventory, motion and defects. Identifying and reducing these wastes are fundamental in improving efficiency and quality.
Batch and Queue
A batch is a quantity of goods processed at one time. Queuing encompasses waiting time between tasks. These are potential areas for waste and quality problems in a manufacturing environment.
Just-in-Time (JIT) Manufacturing
JIT manufacturing is a strategy for increasing efficiency and decreasing waste by receiving goods only as they are needed in the production process, which reduces inventory costs and quality control problems related to stored goods.
Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)
TPM is a manufacturing program which enables machines to produce quality product on time at the lowest cost possible. It emphasizes proactive and preventative maintenance to maximize the operational efficiency of equipment.
Value Stream Mapping
Value stream mapping is a visual means to depict and improve the flow of materials and information in a step-by-step process. It’s used to analyze and design the flow of both materials and information required to bring a product or service to a consumer.
The 5S is a foundational tool of lean manufacturing, focusing on sorting, straightening, systematizing, standardizing, and sustaining the workplace. When effectively implemented, the 5S system can reduce waste, enhance quality, and promote safety.
Literally translating to ‘the actual place’ in Japanese, the concept of Gemba in quality control encourages professionals to observe work processes where they take place, prompting immediate feedback and issue resolution.
Check sheets are simple, often paper-based, tools for the collection of data and its easy analysis. They’re typically used to monitor the frequency of a specific defect or problem and can be designed in a format that suits the needs of the user.
Quality Function Deployment (QFD)
QFD is a structured approach to defining customer needs or requirements and translating them into specific plans to produce products to meet those needs. It involves bringing together voice of the customer, design requirements, and delivery standards to deliver a product that resonates with the market.
Cycle time is the total time from the beginning to the end of your process, as defined by you and your customer. It’s essential to understand and monitor cycle times to ensure processes are running efficiently and productively.
House of Quality
The House of Quality is a part of the QFD process that identifies and prioritizes technical and performance requirements for new product development. It’s a powerful tool for aligning a company’s capabilities with customer needs.
Statistical tolerance allows for an acceptable range of deviations between the ideal and the actual value in a product’s specification. It is a critical aspect of quality control as it helps to set parameters for acceptable quality levels, ensuring a more realistic view of product functionality.
Supply Chain Management
Supply chain management involves the oversight of materials, information, and finances as they move from supplier to manufacturer to wholesaler to retailer to consumer. Ensuring quality control across all these stages is crucial for product integrity and meeting customer expectations.
Fluency in the language of quality control is invaluable, not just for specialists but across the board in any industry. Understanding and integrating these terms and concepts can lead to a more organized and effective approach to quality and process management within your business.
Whether it’s diving deeper into the root causes of defects using statistical methods, implementing lean principles to reduce waste, or ensuring your supply chain is a paragon of reliability, the vocabulary of quality control equips professionals to maintain superior standards and continuously drive business excellence. Start incorporating these terms into your daily dialogue and watch as your team’s understanding and commitment to quality soar. With the right words at your command, there’s no limit to the heights your business can achieve in terms of products and services that truly outshine the competition.