Published 15 Aug 2023
What is Visual Inspection?
Visual inspection is a common quality control method of inspection that uses only the naked eye to spot defects or issues. Trained safety and quality control specialists across different industries perform visual inspections to help standardize best practices as well as reinforce compliance with safety regulations and industry standards.
In this article
- How to Effectively Perform Visual Inspection
- What is a Visual Inspection Checklist?
- What to Include
- What is a Visual Inspection Software?
- Benefits of Using Software for Visual Inspections
- FAQs About Visual Inspection
- Conducting Efficient Visual Inspections with SafetyCulture
- Featured Visual Inspection Checklists
How to Effectively Perform Visual Inspection
According to the British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing (BINDT), many defects are surface-breaking and can be detected by careful direct visual inspection. In some cases, quality assurance inspectors come up with inconsistent visual inspection results because they either do not completely understand defect specifications or have no references to compare the product with.
As one of the easiest and most cost-effective non-destructive testing and quality assurance methods, visual inspection procedures vary per industry. Generally, here are 5 simple steps to effectively perform visual inspections:
Step #1 Clearly define defect criteria
Key stakeholders such as quality engineers, production personnel, and customers should reach a consensus on defect specifications. Clearly defined defect criteria enable inspectors to accurately make pass/fail decisions for products. Document the defects with example photographs and technical descriptions for daily visual inspections on the shop floor.
Step #2 Standardize inspection performance
Quality managers should regularly assess the performance of the current inspection process to confirm the consistency of inspectors’ pass/fail decisions. Determine how well the inspectors’ decisions match the established defect criteria to standardize visual inspection performance in the organization. Occasionally, inspectors misinterpret the standard when they lack visual representations of the defects during visual inspections.
Step #3 Analyze visual defects
When inspectors’ decisions on the same products contradict across visual inspections, address the issue by analyzing the most significant visual defects. Evaluate the cost of quality by frequency and defect count to identify which defect type has the greatest impact on daily operations. Quality managers should also consider the cost, time to repair, and importance to the customer to create and implement effective action plans.
Step #4 Communicate improvement measures
After solving issues for specific visual defects, reassess the inspection performance to affirm overall agreement between the inspectors’ decisions and set standards. Objectively convey the results to all safety and quality personnel for accountability and ownership of continuous improvement efforts.
Step #5 Use mobile-ready checklists
Inspectors and quality managers should use mobile-ready visual inspection checklists to increase the overall throughput of quality products by more than 200%.
When inspectors can access the defect criteria anytime, anywhere, and capture photo evidence of visual defects, the accuracy of pass/fail decisions can be radically improved. When quality managers gain visibility through real-time data and actionable insights, wiser business decisions can be made and operational excellence can be achieved.
What is a Visual Inspection Checklist?
A visual inspection checklist is a valuable tool for organizations to carry out comprehensive visual inspections and audits. It enables assessors to identify any defects, issues, or other observations to note during inspections. Ideally, the checklist should be customizable, as there are different kinds of products or processes to be inspected, and its contents should be relevant to the specific inspection being performed. Visual inspection checklists also facilitate the easy documentation of key information and reporting of inspection results.
What to Include
The items of a visual inspection checklist vary depending on the business needs—especially the asset, equipment, or area to be visually inspected. Generally, however, it can include a variation of the following:
- Company/site name
- Data of inspection
- ID & location
- Photo/s (as proof)
- Defect criteria
- Visual defects identified
- Additional observations
- Signature of inspector
What is a Visual Inspection Software?
A visual inspection software is a digital tool that allows safety and quality assurance personnel to perform different visual inspections. Perform visual inspections on facilities, products, or structures and enjoy the convenience of performing inspections on a tablet or mobile device.
Benefits of Using Software for Visual Inspections
Visual inspection is one of the oldest and most basic inspection methods that aid in securing quality assurance. It is done by looking over a piece of equipment and using raw human senses such as vision, hearing, touch, and smell to detect flaws.
However, this method can be inconclusive due to the inconsistency of visual inspection results caused by inspectors’ lack of understanding of defect specifications or the unavailability of references to compare the product with. Here are the top 3 benefits of using SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor) to streamline visual inspection procedures:
1. Take a snapshot of day-to-day issues
Easily identify visual defects and support your visual inspection with photo evidence. Capture photos within the app and provide notes for a more reliable and detailed visual inspection document.
2. Deliver consistency
Get everyone on the same page with SafetyCulture. Standardize inspection templates to get a consistent structure of the information you need. Use different types of responses like multiple choices, text answers, checkboxes, and more. Provide instructions and reference photos to remove the guesswork from inspections.
3. Gain better insight into your business
Translate your inspection findings into actionable insights. Get real-time visibility on your productivity, compliance, accuracy, and other data you need to level up.
FAQs About Visual Inspection
Visual inspection is a type of quality and safety assessment that does not require any specific tools or equipment as it is mostly done using the naked eye. However, it does require special training for the particular type of inspection or at least the use of checklists so inspectors know what to look for and check.
The primary things to look for during a visual inspection are defects, asset conditions that give the impression that maintenance is needed, and any potential issues that question the integrity of the product, equipment, or structure. These defects can be both obvious and non-obvious, so it is important to perform the inspection thoroughly.
Checklists can help inspectors work more efficiently and effectively by providing a clear and concise guide for conducting inspections. They improve the quality of inspection reports by providing a standardized format for documenting findings. Additionally, it can be used as a training tool to help new inspectors learn the essential tasks involved in conducting a visual inspection.
Conducting Efficient Visual Inspections with SafetyCulture
Make even the most basic method of inspection more efficient with today’s technological advances. With SafetyCulture as a visual inspection software, raise your inspection and quality control management game, while ensuring adherence to safety regulations and quality standards. It is a powerful inspection platform trusted by industry leaders that can help easily identify visual defects, and standardize visual inspection performance.
Below are a few ways SafetyCulture can improve visual inspections:
- Create mobile-ready visual inspection checklists and explicitly define Defect Criteria by customizing them
- Take photos, add annotations, and create immediate corrective actions using the app
- Raise defects found as issues and address them as they emerge with a collaborative structure of inspections
- Automatically generate and share visual inspection reports with members of the organization via Word, PDF, CSV, or web link
- Gain real-time data with SafetyCulture Analytics to further standardize inspection method
Featured Visual Inspection Checklists
An incoming inspection checklist is used by quality assurance personnel to validate the quality of purchased raw materials based on set acceptance criteria. This incoming inspection checklist has been designed to make it easier for quality inspectors to determine inspection results and required actions based on the identification tagging system. Use this mobile-ready checklist to easily perform the following:
- Specify the purchase order number, material description, and quantity
- Capture and store unlimited photos of defects or tagged materials
- Send real-time notifications for scheduled incoming inspections
- Assign actions for accepted, conditionally accepted, or rejected materials
- Complete the incoming inspection with digital signatures
A Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) checklist is used by quality managers to keep a project on track and within its budget by resolving equipment nonconformities prior to shipment. This FAT checklist has been designed to make it easier for quality managers to perform factory acceptance tests in the manufacturing facility and prevent costly project delays. Use SafetyCulture to efficiently perform the following:
- Document the complete/incomplete FAT protocol
- Capture photo evidence of the entire FAT procedure, including hazard identification, safety inspection, and ergonomic assessment
- Specify the pass/fail acceptance criteria upon the actual FAT
- Assign corrective actions for equipment nonconformities
- Validate the factory acceptance test with digital signatures of the FAT personnel
An ISO container inspection checklist is used to assess the structural integrity of intermodal containers and guarantee the safe transport of cargo. Use this checklist to follow the 7-point technique in performing ISO container inspections, comply with international regulations, and prevent container fires. Safety officers should take advantage of SafetyCulture to easily perform the following:
- Capture photo evidence of damages, ISO marks, and CSC plate
- Inspect the doors, undercarriage, floor, front wall, roof, left, and right side of the container
- Send real-time notifications for scheduled ISO container inspections and cargo audits
- Assign actions for misdeclared cargo or inconsistent shipping documents
- Complete the ISO container inspection with digital signatures
A racking inspection checklist aims to identify exactly which components of warehouse racks are damaged using the traffic light system. Instantly assign corrective actions to address health and safety risks with the use of this checklist. The template is designed to easily perform the following:
- Specify the location of the damaged racking
- Measure the damage and risk level based on the traffic light system
- Assign actions with annotated photos and additional notes
- Provide recommendations for future inspections
- Validate the inspection with digital signatures