While quality is king today in almost every industry, it only achieved formal study and definition in the early 20th century. We can thank the Industrial Revolution and the birth of mass production for giving us two principles key to certification: Quality Control and Quality Assurance.
Those new to manufacturing or to certification may wonder – “What’s the difference between the two? Isn’t Quality just… Quality?” While quality is as quality does, control and assurance are certainly two different concepts.
Quality Assurance (QA) is focused upon providing confidence to both consumers and internal staff alike that quality requirements will be met. In broad terms, QA is understood to be made up of all process controls, training activities, signage, machine engineering, etc. that is implemented to ensure product compliance.
Quality Control (QC) focuses on catching errors; it includes all various inspection and testing activities performed by an organization (both in-house and by subcontractors).
QC can be considered a part of QA, but an effective QA policy cannot be made up of only QC controls and processes.