Acceptance Quality Limit (AQL): What is that?

It is extremely time-consuming to check every single one of the ordered products. Therefore an international standard, the ISO 2859-1, was developed for picking samples. This standard was developed to choose a statistically representative number of samples. It is also used to define the limit between accepting an order and rejecting it. The tables used for this are called the Acceptance Quality Limit / Level (AQL) tables.
The limit has been described in the ISO 2859 as the worst quality level that’s acceptable. In practice, three types of defects are differentiated.

  • Minor defects: mistakes that most users will not mind, cosmetic defects.
  • Major defects: mistakes that an end user will not tolerate, functional defects.
  • Critical defects: completely unacceptable mistakes that can cause harm or might break a law.

According to the number of defects found, the inspection company will advise you to accept or reject an order.
An inspector has to choose a number of samples that is representative for the entire lot, and thus for the number of defects. The AQL tables form a statistical tool to find that number of samples.

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