How to use a QC checklist

Performing Quality Control in India

A QC checklist is a quality control tool that is used to ensure that all the necessary steps have been taken to produce a high-quality product. It can be used for any type of product, from food to manufactured goods. The checklist must be tailored to the specific product being produced. For example, a food QC checklist would include items such as checking the expiry date, ensuring that the food has been cooked properly, and checking for signs of spoilage. A manufacturing QC checklist would include items such as checking for defects in the product, ensuring that assembly is correct, and testing the product to ensure it meets specifications.

By using a QC checklist, you can ensure that all aspects of your product or service meet the high standards you have set. Additionally, a QC checklist can be used to identify potential problems early on, before they become expensive or time-consuming to fix.

The Challenges of Communicating with Suppliers

Communicating with suppliers can be difficult. Quality standards and product specifications can easily get lost in translation—or completely inaudible. The result is often a product that doesn't meet your or your customer's needs expect.

A quality control checklist can easily solve this problem. Quality Control Checklists go by many names - Inspection Criteria Sheets (ICS), Quality Control Checklists, Quality Assurance Checklists or Quality Control Sheets. All these names refer to documents that outline the quality and provides your suppliers with requirements and specifications in a clear and concise manner.

Checklists are one of the easiest but most effective ways to clarify requirements and prevent defects in your shipments

Quality control checklists serve two main purposes:

  1. Outline quality standards and product requirements the supplier is expected to meet and
  2. Provide objective inspection standards to ensure products meet customer expectations

When to provide a QC checklist to a supplier

It can be helpful to share a detailed quality assurance checklist with your supplier even before production begins. This gives the supplier the opportunity to review your requirements and notify you of any unreasonable or required adjustments before mass production.

A QC checklist might prevent the issues earlier on because the QC checklist usually specifies tolerances and specific methods. Your supplier can refer to this document along with approved samples for your requirements.

When inspecting products before shipment, the quality control checklist should also provide inspection criteria. This checklist is not only helpful for internal QC staff to inspect your product but it is also important for you or any third party inspectors you hire to inspect your product represent.

Meet regulatory standards with checklists

Meeting regulatory standards can mean the difference between your product reaching your customer and being seized by customs. An effective quality assurance checklist can ensure that your products meet regulatory standards before shipping.

A QC checklist usually includes sections that define the market for sale and the regulations or standards that the product must meet. This may include recommended AQL levels and/or other certifications required to sell in that market.

Since regulatory requirements vary by country, you might also consider creating different manifest templates for different markets—even for the same product. Since regulatory requirements vary by country, you might also consider creating different manifest templates for different markets—even for the same product. For example, under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in the US, all toy importers are required to comply with ASTM F963. And, in the EU market, you need to meet EN71 standards.

Improve supplier relationships

A less obvious benefit of working with suppliers to develop a quality control checklist is that it can improve your relationship with your suppliers.

Your supplier may have its own quality manual. But there is often a discrepancy between the importer's requirements and the factory's standards. Ensuring consistency between your requirements and factory requirements helps minimize miscommunication and prevent quality question.

Working with your suppliers on the quality control form shows that you value their feedback. Your suppliers can even come up with ideas for improving product quality that you may not have considered.

What to add in your QC checklist template?

Your quality control form needs to be written directly and in a clear format. Remember you are not the only one reading your quality control sheet. Your supplier and any third-party inspectors you hire also need to be able to explain it easily.

It may also be helpful to translate the documentation into the supplier's native language. For this you can often find freelancers on sites like Upwork or Guru.

An effective quality control checklist template should cover the following technical areas.

Packaging requirements

Add details about the shipper carton any inner carton and any retail carton or packaging. Whether or not you will verify packaging during inspections packaging requirements are important to your suppliers please refer to them here.

The packaging section should generally contain the following:

  • Packaging weight and dimensions
  • Shipper carton labeling and marking requirements
  • Shipper carton material requirements (e.g single or double binding method white or brown cardboard)
  • Packaging method and assortment
  • Retail packaging printed graphics and labels

Product requirements

The product requirements shown on the quality control form should include:

  • Product weight and dimensions
  • Material and construction
  • Product color (consider including Pantone color code where applicable)
  • Markings and labels (e.g UL or voltage rating for electronics)

On-site tests and checks

Almost any product inspection should include some on-site testing and inspection. Including this information on your QC checklist helps inform suppliers which tests you expect your products and packaging to pass.

This section should also outline the procedures for each test or the criteria for passing or failing the inspection and any relevant tolerances for the inspector (related: How product inspectors use the quality control checklist).

Some examples of field tests and inspections include:

  • Barcode Scanning Check (any item with barcode)
  • Carton drop test (for packaging)
  • GSM check (for fabric density)
  • Moisture check (for wood products such as furniture or moulds)
  • Cross-Cross Adhesion Test (for enamel cookware)
  • Vulcanization testing (rubber products especially footwear)
  • Functional testing (applies to most projects)
  • Hi-pot test (for electrical items)

Inspection equipment

Simply stating the tests and inspections a product requires is not always sufficient. Include the equipment required for each test and inspection. If you are not sure what equipment you need, your supplier or third-party inspector should be able to provide some suggestions.

Who will provide equipment

Suppliers are generally responsible for supplying any large equipment that is difficult to transport such as garment metal detectors or large container scales. Inspectors usually bring smaller tools such as calipers tapes and Pantone swatches. However, to prevent this confusion, include who should supply each piece of equipment in your QC checklist template.

Defect classification

Provide objective tolerances for quality issues. Include a section on your QC checklist for classifying defects. This section shall identify all potential quality defects and classify each defect as "minor" "major" or "Critical".

This section of your QC checklist template also tells suppliers and inspectors your tolerance for product defects. Clarifying deficiencies in the QC checklist ensures that everyone is evaluated using the same criteria.

Quality control checklist