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Quality assurance and control are important in all commercial activities

Robert Hayes Published: July 28, 2013

The importance of having a product  fully meet all the intended requirements and to have all the expected characteristics is the basis for quality control in any process.  When any product is brought to market, there are a number of steps which have to be followed correctly to result in the desired goods to sell.  This applies equally to literally anything bought or sold.  When crops are harvested, if they are not cut, processed and shipped correctly, they could be ruined or even be mixed with dirt or other less desirable materials.  When a machine is assembled, all the nuts, bolts, and every other part has to be put together correctly for the final function of that machine to operate correctly.  When the very nuts and bolts themselves are manufactured, they must meet many strict requirements of their own in terms of allowable dimensions, materials, finishing and markings.  The process the machine will be used for will likely have quality requirements of its own, this may be to cut, weld, drill, wrap, cook, print, move or whatever its end purpose is, quality can almost never be ignored.

Large institutions and corporations typically have a quality control or quality assurance department to ensure these various requirements in their products and services are as expected.  Sometimes this can be as simple as verifying that procedures are followed.  It can also entail checking to see that records are kept and stored or that purchasing takes all the needed steps to make sure what is bought is exactly what is desired.

In many business’, quality control can be considered of similar importance to regulatory compliance and customer service.  If any of these three aspects fail, the business itself could fail.  Many business also elevate safety to the same or even a higher level of importance than these as no business can exist without employees.  Quality of safety features in the workplace is another good example of the importance of quality assurance in society today.  Whether it is the integrity of a safety harness for working at heights or the water testing for the city, quality measurements, processing and system configuration can all directly affect worker and even public safety.

Something as simple as a bag of beans from the grocery store would have its own list of quality requirements from its manufacturer and even the store selling it.  The labeling would have to be clear and correct.  The bag would have to be sealed and sized correctly.  The beans would have to be the right kind, amount and consistency.  The handling process would have to be clean, storage requirements to prevent spoilage and similar handling requirements would have to be followed.  These are just some of the more obvious quality requirements.  Other less obvious examples would include protection of the environment including plants and animals.

A gallon of gasoline from the local gas station would similarly have a long list of quality requirements.  Each process starting with pumping the oil, transporting, refining  the oil into all its products (including gasoline) and transporting the gasoline would each have similar long lists of quality requirements.

Some quality checks can require formal testing and evaluation to include measurement and physical inspections.  The testing can include chemical tests, weight, volume, operability, dimensions and basically anything that is considered critical to the purpose of the product or process being evaluated.  We all might like to think we strive to put excellence in everything we do but the quality process is a way of quantifying it based on measurement or other observed evidence.