Quality inspection is an important part of the manufacturing process and have a place in a number of areas of the supply chain. The inspection of products is also appropriate in other areas of the supply chain such as inspections during the manufacturing process, inspection of the final finished product, and inspections while the items are stored in the warehouse.
1) Inspection of Samples
The quality inspection occurs so that a company can verify that the samples are within certainly prescribed tolerances in order for the mass products to be useful. For example, a company may purchase an aluminum part to be used in their manufacturing process, but before it can be used, it has to be inspected to see that the part is within the tolerances to be used in the process.
When a purchasing agreement is made with a vendor, it will define the characteristics of the product that are to be inspected and the tolerances that would be allowed. If the samples are received and found to have characteristics outside those agreed upon in the purchasing contract, then the company can warm the vendor to take corrective action, before mass production starts.
2) Inspections at the Vendor’s Facility
The quality inspection can also take place at the vendor’s facility. Some companies prefer to perform the inspection before the items are transported to their manufacturing plant. The inspections can incorporate more than inspections of the product, but also inspections of the production facility, equipment, documentation, manufacturing processes, and storage facilities.
These quality inspections are important when purchasing agreements are being negotiated. Some vendors may have ISO 9001:2000 certification which offers customers a greater sense of expected quality and may lessen the requirement of regular inspections.
3) Inspections on Production Line
When a manufacturing company creates finished goods, it cannot afford to wait until the items are coming from the end of the production line before they are inspected. Production issues need to be addressed early in the process in order to correct problems. This can reduce the loss of raw material and reduce the overall time that the production process is shut down.
For example, in the manufacturer of consumer products, many inspections are performed so that components are tested as the final product is being assembled to ensure that the finished product will be fault free.
4) Inspection to Finished Products
When the finished products come off the production line, they should be inspected to ensure that they conform to the quality standards. The final inspection could include not only the finished products themselves, but the packaging used to ship them to the customer. If the packaging is damaged or not correctly labeled, then this could require the item to be reworked or scrapped.
5) Inspections in the Warehouse
Finished goods can be stored in the warehouse before they are sold. For some items, storage for a period of time can alter the characteristics of the product. For example, some products are susceptible to degradation by heat or cold.
Finished goods that are produced to be within certain chemical tolerances can be affected by environmental conditions so that some characteristics are no longer within the stipulated tolerances. Inspections in the warehouse can ensure that the finished goods are still able to be shipped to customers.