Sharpen Your Axe

By Chuck Gault, Max Coating President

AxeIt seems like I’m constantly Googling terms that I think I know, but upon further reflection, realize need clarification. It still amazes me that with just a few clicks of my mouse, I’m able to get any answer to any question under the sun.

I found myself talking to some of my team members the other day about quality assurance. But the more I used that phrase, the more I realized that maybe I was using it wrong. Enter: Google.

Yep, I had been using it wrong.

Quality assurance is on the front end. It questions if you’re doing the preparation work to give yourself the opportunity to make good parts. Is your system in spec? Is the chemistry correct in the tanks? Is the pressure correct in the pumps? Do you have the oven at the right temperature? Is the voltage correct? Heck, do you have the right color paint for the part you’re working on?

All of these checks on the front end give you the best chances of doing good work and coming out with the best product you can.

Quality control, on the other hand, comes after the product has been produced (in our case, after a part has been painted). It means asking yourself and your team some questions: Did the product turn out like we wanted? Did we get the expected results? If your answer is no, your quality assurance needs some adjustment.

Realizing the difference between these two terms was a bit of a “eureka!” moment for me. They’re ideas that are simple, but that can have a huge impact on your work. I shared them with my team, and now we all use the terms “quality assurance” and “quality control” often – and we use them correctly.

What’s the lesson here? I think it can be summed up in a quote from Abraham Lincoln: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Preparation is key.

Birmingham, Alabama-based Max Coating is the leader in metal finishing and provides electrocoating and powder coating services for the automotive, industrial and agricultural industries. Learn more