By Renaud Anjoran in 'Quality Inspection Blog'
Quality control is basically the activity of checking results. Independent QC inspectors check if finished products are conform to a set of specifications, and usually do not have the know-how to check the production processes themselves.
There is a widespread view, especially in academic circles, that quality control does not add any value. Finished products are the result of a process, so all the attention should be focused on improving the processes themselves.
One of the key principles of Deming was "Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for massive inspection by building quality into the product in the first place."
Actually I totally agree with that view. Focusing on process improvement is much more effective than sending quality inspectors. However, it is not practical for importers sourcing products in China or other low-cost countries. I would even say that it is downright impossible in most cases.
There are two reasons for this:
When I go to factories, I constantly tell the managers that they would reduce their non-quality costs dramatically if they processed smaller batches (or, at least, if they produced a first pilot run) and if they controlled the materials more seriously. They NEVER do it.
So good luck with changing the organization of the flow in the workshops. Really.
And please don't suspect third-party inspection companies of pushing purchasers in the wrong direction. Yes, working on processes might reduce the need for quality control. But no, there is usually no better way to secure quality.