What are Inspections Test Plans? How to create e-ITPs?

What is an Inspection and Test Plan?

In manufacturing, an Inspection and Test Plan( ITP) is an inspection checklist that includes those characteristics that should be checked at each stage of the process. It could cover all aspects of your process, from receiving inspection, when materials are received to the pre-shipment inspection.

Here is a definition of an inspection test plan or quality plan from ISO 9001:2015, under 7.1 Planning of Product Realization: “A document specifying the processes of the quality management system (including the product realization processes) and the resources to be applied to a specific product, project or contract can be referred to as a quality plan. (ISO 9001:2008 Clause 7.1 Planning of product realization, NOTE 1)”

Why have an Inspection and Test Plan?

The goal of each stage of the inspection in manufacturing is to avoid non-conforming products from moving further in the production cycle.  Keeping a detailed ITP stops faulty products as well as:

  • Creates a proper inspection plan guarantees the quality of the product and ensures that the products match the design requirements.
  • A detailed ITP builds trust and increases customer loyalty when working with vendors or working as an MRO contractor (maintenance, repair and overhaul).

What should be included in an Inspection and Test Plan?

The answer to this question could vary depending on your manufacturing model and process but here are a few suggestions of what an Inspection and Test Plan might cover:

  • It should include references to support processes, documents needed such as work instructions or engineering specifications, and other resources required to complete an inspection.
  • The exact inspection details should be specified on the ITP sheet, these could include things like visual inspections, product measurements, etc.
  • It should include the pass/fail criteria, and have it clearly displayed.
  • The inspection acceptance threshold should also be present
  • An ITP sheet should also include information about who has performed each inspection to ensure traceability

A quality inspection plan can cover all stages of production from the Receiving Inspection  to shipment. Here is a brief review of how ITP plan can be designed for each stage of manufacturing procedure:

Inspection and Test Plan

What is Receiving Inspection/ Incoming quality control (IQC)?

What is Receiving Inspection/ Incoming quality control (IQC)?

In the receiving inspection stage of the production, Inspection and Test Plan sheet includes checklists about inspecting raw or incoming materials. This checklist is to make sure the incoming lot meets the standard you need for your production. 

In MRO, where customer’s products are sent for repair or maintenance, doing this type of  Receiving Inspection could be slightly different. 

For an MRO shop floor, a quality plan sheet includes incoming preliminary test results and measurements that are needed to identify the status of the electric motors or generators that has been sent for repair or service.

What is In-process Inspection?

What to include in Inspection and Test Plan in In-process Inspection ​

In the in-process inspection or Inspection Test Plan (ITP) includes all the characteristics that are measured to ensure the accuracy of the production up until completion. The goal of inspection is to identify non-conforming products and stop them from moving further in the production process. 

You can use specific questions in your ITP to identify the pass or fail status of an inspection stage. In-process inspection sheet should include what is considered pass or fail after a measurement or reading. 

Using a pass/ fail question format after a reading alerts the technicians or operators about the faulty status of the production.

In creating ITP sheets with pass/ fail questions, consider the accepted threshold in each stage of the production. Using the proper thresholds help to prevent false positives or false negatives.

How to use an ITP to run a successful In-process Inspection?​

The success of the inspection process through your production process relies heavily on your ability to identify faulty steps and stop work until corrective measures can be taken. 

Any undetected errors at this stage could turn costly later during production. 

Executing your quality plan, you could add a few procedures in your in-process inspection procedure to minimize shop floor operation errors. Here are a few examples of such procedures:

1- Hold points:

Placing hold points your ITP sheet gives your production another layer of inspection by a shop supervisor, QA inspector or the person who is in charge of the shop floor operation. Hold points are special stop points in the production, to inspect what has been done so far. Once it is approved the hold point is released for production to continue. If you are interested to learn more about hold points and how they can help your inspection process, check Hold point and Inspection.

2- Employee Training:

Another procedure is to make sure all your employees are trained properly for the type of tasks that they are assigned. Assigning each part of your ITP to the correct operators with the proper training, ensures accuracy of your production and saves any chance for headaches in the audit process.

4- Traceability:

Everything in your In process Inspection should be tracked. Traceability plays an important role when you want to apply as an MRO contractor or when you want to follow a recall or look at a voided warranty. You want to make sure your ITP sheet has a place for tracing all labor, machinery, tools, materials and resources that are used in the manufacturing process.

5- Matching ITP form with your actual shop floor operation:

Whether you create your own ITP or are using an ITP template, make sure you are not assigning too many or too in depth inspection tasks to your operation. The first part of creating the right ITP plan is to observe your own operation.

You want to make sure you stick to your practical and existing working inspection routines rather than including over the top inspection measures.

  • Including extra inspection steps and going over capacity in your Inspection and Test Plan can play a negative part in the success of your audit or ISO plan. For instance, if your shop usually does 3 shaft measurements for a specific item. You don’t want to alter it to 6 measurement requirements in your ITP report, even if you think 6 measurement is the best practice. Failing to do 6 measurements at this point create non-conformity in your system.
  • The goal of quality plan is to stick close to your usual operation and your common practices in creating your ITP form to avoid audit non-conformities down the road. ISO is mainly focused on following your own procedures properly. Don’t get carried away with increasing inspection amounts or details of the inspection.

ITP, a good start…​

Of course, there is more to running a successful inspection process than just using the proper ITP form. There are a few factors that together with the right ITP form can determine the success of your inspection process:

Tool Calibration:​

An important factor in ensuring a successful inspection is maintaining Tool Calibration throughout the process. Maintaining an accurate record of your tools and their calibration status can save you the cost of reworking or having to scrap faulty productions.

Consider putting measures in your ITP to make sure your technicians or operators are only using calibrated tools. You could trace common shop floor tools and their usage through their barcode to ensure they are calibrated, and also be able to track when they were used last. 

If interested to learn more about tool calibration and how it can help, read tool calibration.

Work Instructions: ​

Another critical factor in making sure your ITP plan is filled accurately is to make sure your work instructions and procedure manuals are up to date. Most inspection steps on the ITP form come with some kind of accompanying instructions or documentation.

 These documents usually have details on how to do visual inspection or do other functionality tests. Depending on your operation these accompanying documents could be:

  • Engineering documents such as CAD/CAM drawing
  • Visual inspection guideline
  • Dimension inspection sheet
  • Welding inspection guideline
  • Information on how often a test should be done

What is a Final Inspection?

What to include in your Inspection and Test Plan with regards to a Final Inspection?​

Final Inspection is usually performed at the final stage of the production process. In an MRO (Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul) process, final inspection is about making sure that the product that is sent for maintenance and repair is working according to its requested specifications. 

An ITP sheet at this point can provide a final checklist to ensure the product is complying with its requirements and initial design. A Quality plan checklist at this point of inspection is checking the conformity of the product before shipment. It should be noted that any inspection failure at this point is an overhead and involves costly rework. Yet, doing final inspection could prevent product returns, dissatisfied customers, voided warranties or other costly problems.

What is Pre-Shipment Inspection?

What to include in an Inspection and Test Plan for Pre-Shipment Inspection?

Before sending off your product to the customer, you want your ITP checklist to ensure safe and secure delivery of the product.

Depending on the size, quantity, and weight of your shipment, your ITP checklist should track the type of product, handling procedure, and proper labels and signage to ensure the product will reach its destination. Here are a few examples that you might want to include in a Pre-Shipment Inspection checklist:

  • Checking for the type of packaging standards
  • Checking handling signage 
  • Visual inspection for rips or breaks in packaging
  • Check for proper loading 
  • Check for fastening, stowing, other means necessary for transportation
  • Update your ITP checklist based on weight and size of the shipment

Simplifying Quality Inspection.

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