Quality Assurance and Quality Control are often used synonymously as the differences between them are not clear to most of us. It is important to realize that quality consciousness can contribute immensely to growth or decline of your business. In today’s competitive environment a service provider cannot afford to ignore quality needs of the consumer or the client. This principle applies equally to laboratories which are part of industrial establishments as well as those engaged in commercial products testing. It is important for all and especially those working in such establishments to understand the difference between the two terms. It may also be a topic of discussion that may crop up during job selection or promotional interviews.
The differences are discussed keeping in mind testing operations in chemical test laboratories which are part of manufacturing units or laboratories engaged in commercial testing activities. A consumer or client expects the services provider to abide by standards laid down by international standardization bodies such as ISO, EPA, APHA, Pharmacopoeias, AOAC, ASTM, etc. In addition several standards are industry specific or stipulated by national standard bodies.
- Quality assurance is an ongoing activity which aims at upkeep and improvement of quality standards of products and services
- A group of persons is assigned the task of quality assurance. The team is continuously upgraded through external certifying bodies and should be updated on changing industry standards
- Quality assurance is a process that aims at zero defect products
- Quality assurance adopts a proactive approach to identify and take corrective action that will ensure consistency of product quality and precedes quality control checks.
- Quality control is constituted of another group of individuals that ensure quality of products produced through adherence of standards laid down by quality assurance group
- Quality control in other words ensures quality by adherence to quality manual developed by the quality assurance group
- Quality control is concerned with the identification of defects or deviations in the manufactured products and is responsible for taking pass or fail decision
The ultimate objective of both quality assurance and quality control is to offer goods or services that meet the expectations of the consumer or the client and do not in any way pose health hazards during use. It is important to realize that upkeep of product quality is not the responsibility of any one individual nor quality assurance or quality control group but is a joint responsibility of all the individuals engaged in the manufacturing and laboratory testing operations.