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Quality knowledge base - article QA-0048
Updated on 05-01-2017

Incoming Quality Inspection

Incoming quality inspection (or incoming quality control) is a pre-defined process, aiming to ensure that no defective raw materials, sub-assemblies or parts reach the manufacturing line of the customer. Thus, it focuses on the qualification of raw materials and supplied parts from the customer's standpoint.
In many sectors the verification of incoming goods is mandatory, regulated by sector specific standards and technical specifications (e.g. IATF 16949 in the automotive sector). On top of that, the independent (not sector relevant) ISO 9001 is also describing the need of maintaining activities that ensure the conformity of purchased goods.
TEST ADVERTISEMENT (for temporary testing purposes, source:
Key Features
The activity chosen by the company (customer) is technology specific. The following preliminary requirements and points need to be considered before choosing the proper incoming verification:
  • Production technology of purchased part (e.g. plastic moulding, die casting, printed circuit boards).
  • Special characteristics (important for the customer, end customer, safety relevant or governmental regulated).
  • Inspection or test method (e.g. measurement with caliper, CMM, X-ray, simple visual inspection, etc.).
  • Inspection or test frequency.
  • Available resources and knowledge.
  • Supporting material from supplier (e.g. SPC data, material consistency sheets, from of conformity).
It is important to note, that ISO standards do not require the implementation of physical inspection. In many cases, the customer quality of the supplier and the supplier quality of the customer exchange data about the shipped raw materials. It is the supplier’s responsibility to supply the right parts, in the right quantity, in the right time to the customer. Implementing a well-developed incoming quality control system is the decision of the customer.
It brings many benefits, however the turning point is very hard to see. The more tests you do as a customer, the more resources you spend on verifying your purchased goods. On the other hand, the more comprehensive your tests are, the higher the chance you catch defects, and decrease reactive cost later in the supply chain.
Quality Management
Resource requirements and expected reliability of incoming quality control methods (Source:
So the definition of the incoming quality inspection system is a proactive and strategic decision, and it is affected by many factors, such as the contract with your suppliers and end customers.
The following table shows an example of sample based incoming inspection, defined by the supplier quality engineer.
The incoming inspection specification of a turbo housing
Part name / Part number Visual inspection Leakage test Hardness testing Material test report (verification from supplier) Valid Released by Comment
Die casted turbo housing / 2234.334.444 20 pcs from every batch (240 pcs) according to instruction Q4435 1 pc from each batch according to instruction Q4105 None Requested for every batch First 3 months of ramp-up after SOP (2017.02.01 – 2017.05.01 SQE Incoming test frequency to be changed after ramp-up
When setting up an incoming quality inspection (or test) system, considering the major and special characteristics is the most important point. Some characteristics require 100% verification (e.g. assembly points relevant for manufacturability, or safety relevant), while some can be inspected on a sample base (e.g. some part from a batch).
The department, that runs incoming quality inspection is not only responsible for an additional screening, but also serves as an information provider and decision maker about the incoming supplies. Their information is vital to judge if a given batch is permitted to be shipped into the manufacturing area (see the next chart).
Quality Management
Place of incoming inspection in the life of an organization (Source:
Running an incoming quality inspection system does not mean you test raw materials instead of your suppliers. Whether you have such a system or not, they have to maintain their own in-line and end of line testing.
Focusing on quality management at the selection of suppliers is crucial, as it will affect how much resource you will need to spend on incoming quality. It also affects pricing (both of the purchased parts and of the end product). Important: if such topics are not clarified pro-actively, many debates about money will occur. It is a general situation in the actual industrial environment that suppliers do not take over the cost of increased incoming inspection (especially if it isn’t regulated by the contract).
Having a shared information system with the supplier improves transparency and trust. In such a system, the customer sees verification data, test results, and many important information uploaded by the supplier. The Internet of Things (IoT) is enhancing these systems further, as the machines and servers of both the supplier and the customer will communicate with each other, so the customer may see the real-time manufacturing data of the supplier (e.g. mean, standard distribution, Cpk, anomalies, quantities, etc.). Of course the spreading of these systems is only imaginable with trust and cooperation between the stakeholders of the supply chain.
Many companies established dynamic incoming quality inspection system, which is a mix between sample based (see AQL tables) and 100% verification. The engineers continuously adjust the testing frequencies of purchased parts and raw materials, based on the quality performance of the assigned supplier. If the quality results of the supplier is above a pre-defined target, the inspection or test frequency of the given part is decreased, and when a down-trend is visible in the quality performance of the supplier, the inspection frequency is increased by the engineers.
  • Incoming quality inspection (or incoming quality control) is a pre-defined process, aiming to ensure that no defective raw materials, sub-assemblies or parts reach the manufacturing line of the customer.
  • It focuses on the qualification of raw materials and supplied parts from the customer’ standpoint.
  • Incoming quality inspection is not the supplement of supplier in-line and end of line testing. Whether the company has such a system or not, the suppliers have to maintain their own in-line and end of line testing.
Relevant Topics
Process Control and Analysis
Statistical Process Control (SPC)
Process Control and Analysis
Internal Reject Rate (IRR)
Process Control and Analysis
Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)
Process Control and Analysis
Sampling Test
Process Control and Analysis
Acceptance Quality Limit (AQL)
Process Control and Analysis
Controlled Shipping Level (CSL)
Process Control and Analysis
End of Line Test (EOL)
Process Control and Analysis
Ramp-Up Quality Assurance Plan
Fact sheet
Information about the quality control of incoming parts and products.

Topic / Article: Incoming Quality Inspection
Term Category: Process Control and Analysis
Business Sector: All
Timing: After serial release
Files, Attachments: None
Term Up-to-date
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