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6. Process or Product Monitoring and Control
6.2. Test Product for Acceptability: Lot Acceptance Sampling


What is Acceptance Sampling?

Contributions of Dodge and Romig to acceptance sampling Acceptance sampling is an important field of statistical quality control that was popularized by Dodge and Romig and originally applied by the U.S. military to the testing of bullets during World War II. If every bullet was tested in advance, no bullets would be left to ship. If, on the other hand, none were tested, malfunctions might occur in the field of battle, with potentially disastrous results.
Definintion of Lot Acceptance Sampling Dodge reasoned that a sample should be picked at random from the lot, and on the basis of information that was yielded by the sample, a decision should be made regarding the disposition of the lot. In general, the decision is either to accept or reject the lot. This process is called Lot Acceptance Sampling or just Acceptance Sampling.
"Attributes" (i.e., defect counting) will be assumed Acceptance sampling is "the middle of the road" approach between no inspection and 100% inspection. There are two major classifications of acceptance plans: by attributes ("go, no-go") and by variables. The attribute case is the most common for acceptance sampling, and will be assumed for the rest of this section.
Important point A point to remember is that the main purpose of acceptance sampling is to decide whether or not the lot is likely to be acceptable, not to estimate the quality of the lot.
Scenarios leading to acceptance sampling Acceptance sampling is employed when one or several of the following hold: 
  • Testing is destructive
  • The cost of 100% inspection is very high
  • 100% inspection takes too long
Acceptance Quality Control and Acceptance Sampling It was pointed out by Harold Dodge in 1969 that Acceptance Quality Control is not the same as Acceptance Sampling. The latter depends on specific sampling plans, which when implemented indicate the conditions for acceptance or rejection of the immediate lot that is being inspected. The former may be implemented in the form of an Acceptance Control Chart. The control limits for the Acceptance Control Chart are computed using the specification limits and the standard deviation of what is being monitored (see Ryan, 2000 for details).
An observation by Harold Dodge In 1942, Dodge stated:

"....basically the "acceptance quality control" system that was developed encompasses the concept of protecting the consumer from getting unacceptable defective product, and encouraging the producer in the use of process quality control by: varying the quantity and severity of acceptance inspections in direct relation to the importance of the characteristics inspected, and in the inverse relation to the goodness of the quality level as indication by those inspections."

To reiterate the difference in these two approaches: acceptance sampling plans are one-shot deals, which essentially test short-run effects. Quality control is of the long-run variety, and is part of a well-designed system for lot acceptance.

An observation by Ed Schilling Schilling (1989) said:

"An individual sampling plan has much the effect of a lone sniper, while the sampling plan scheme can provide a fusillade in the battle for quality improvement."

Control of product quality using acceptance control charts According to the ISO standard on acceptance control charts (ISO 7966, 1993), an acceptance control chart combines consideration of control implications with elements of acceptance sampling. It is an appropriate tool for helping to make decisions with respect to process acceptance. The difference between acceptance sampling approaches and acceptance control charts is the emphasis on process acceptability rather than on product disposition decisions.
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