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The term Product Quality Assurance has a very wide scope. Let us try to understand it. During the entire product lifecycle from concept to obsolescence, various activities are performed. It is important to assure the quality at each stage in order to meet the customer requirements consistently.
In this stage, the concept is developed and the product is designed and introduced into the market. Product quality assurance plays a critical role during this stage. It decides the customer requirements and based on that decides the product requirements. During the design stage, quality control evaluates and validates the product i.e. the quality control engineer will compare the product designed with respect to the product and customer requirements and confirm whether the design would meet them. Once the product is validated, it is released for manufacturing. Quality control also has to make sure that the processes being used to manufacture and inspect the product are correct. They also have to create the standard inspection procedures, which are used by quality control to do periodic inspection of the products.
During this stage, the demand for a product increases and so the quantity of production increases. At this stage, the role of quality control is to make sure that in the race to manufacture more, the organization does not compromises on quality. The processes for higher production have to be implemented. Since during this stage the competition increases and the costs have to be kept low, various low cost alternatives are explored. If some processes involved in manufacturing the product are outsourced then product quality control also has to ensure that the processes followed by the vendor are capable of delivering the required quality.
During the maturity stage, the competition further increases and the pressure on margins is felt. Moreover, with various options available, the customers become more demanding. Value for money is the theme. Role of quality control almost remains similar to the one during the growth stage.
During this stage, the alternate products start eating up the market share and hence sales start declining. Product quality control has a little role to play during this stage. The most important role to be played during this stage is planning for the obsolescence of the existing product.
Apart from these roles, some product quality control roles remain active throughout the life of the product. Product quality audit is one such role wherein the quality control team does random audits of the products ready to be dispatched to the customers. This is generally done in order to keep a check on the entire process of procurement, production, and inspection.
Another such role is handling customer complaint. During the entire life of the product, there will be customer complaints because of some errors during the process or due to component quality or due to the misuse of the product. The product quality control has to find out the root cause of the complaints and put processes in place to ensure that such occurrences do not get repeated.