AQLs? In 2017? Seriously?


Wow, do quality practices vary from industry to industry. I came out of the electronics industry, where we needed to put a few hundred components on a circuit board and expect it to turn on and function the first time nearly all the time. We needed components that were only a few parts per million faulty and, working closely with our component suppliers, we got them. About 20 years ago.The quality wars were over and quality won. Terms like six sigma, lean and and expectation that no defective parts were acceptable are common day to day language.

This week I just read an article that looked like a forty year throwback. I won't name names but if you search for "10 AQL Terms Importers Should Know" you will find it. It's generally aimed at the clothing and fabric industries. In those industries, quality is measured in percent defective and some companies will accept up to 6.5% defective lots of material. Discussion revolves around how defective a garment has to be before a customer will reject it. And one percent is 10,000 parts per million.

Throughout the whole article, there is no mention of the characteristic of AQL plans that they are biased against rejecting material. An AQL X% plan will accept a batch that is X% defective 90% of the time. That's not going to work in assembly-oriented industries.


If you want to work to improve your company's supplier quality programs, check out Next Level Purchasing's "Improving Quality in the Supply Chain" course. You, your company and your customers will be glad you did.

November 18, 2017