The Acceptable Quality Limit (AQL)

A Fundamental Measure Of Standards Used To Conduct Product Inspections

The acceptable quality limit (aql) is a fundamental measure of standards used to conduct product inspections. In line with iso 2859-1, it refers to the lower limits of acceptable standards for consumer products over the course of a number of inspections. At global inspection managing, we use aqls to determine whether or not a product order has met a client’s specifications.

AQL standards are helpful in that they can be used to find two very important figures. These include the number of units that need to be inspected in a given shipment and the number of defects that will produce a ‘fail’ result. The number of units that are inspected is called an ‘inspection sample’  to determine the sample size needed for an individual shipment, organizations can use the aql chart, which is made up of two tables.

AQL Sampling Calculator

Critical (defects)

Inspection level

Major (defects)

  • Sample size: 100 units
  • Accept point:0
  • Reject point:0
  • Sample size: 100 units
  • Accept point: 0
  • Reject point: 0
  • Sample size: 100 units
  • Accept point:0
  • Reject point:0

Critical Defects:

These defects are dangerous to consumers and, in line with current compliance regulations, should not exceed 0%.

Major Defects:

These affect a product’s function or significantly affect its appearance. The limit is 2.5%.

Minor Defects:

These do not limit the use of a product but could still affect sales. The limit is 4%.

How Does The AQL Chart Work?

The AQL chart can be used to determine how many defects are permissible during an inspection, as well as how many units should be inspected. If you are unfamiliar with the AQL chart, our inspectors will help you to select the AQL level that best fits your requirements.

Table 1

Code Letters

The first table (shown below) can be used to select what is known as the "General Inspection Level", of which there are three levels of requirement. Generally speaking, most companies select Level II, which is the standard for over 95% of inspections. The defect level must then be determined using the second table (also shown below), which uses a scale that ranges from 0 to 6.5.

Table 2

General Inspection Levels: The Basics

As already mentioned, Table 1 features three General Inspection Levels (I, II, and III) that determine how many units should make up a random sample. As a general rule, companies should select Level II as standard. By selecting Level I, your inspector would examine fewer units. Although this may not be as costly in the short term, it may cost you more in the long term due to issues with quality.

A situation in which Level III needs to be used could include, for example, a new factory experiencing a series of failures related to quality control. This level will increase the sample size that the inspector will examine, making the results more accurate.

Special Inspection Levels

You may have noticed that the second column on Table 1 features four so-called ‘Special Inspection Levels’. Selecting one of these levels will lead to a smaller sample being examined.

  • Testing is too time-consuming or complicated
  • Testing may damage the products
  • There are few possible defects that represent a cause for concern
  • The company is working to a strict time limit

Benefits Of An AQL Calculator

Test Products In Bulk

Helps Determine Acceptable Defects

High Success Rate

Save Time And Money


Answers to some of the most common questions & concerns.

What is the defect classification?
The defetcs are classified within 3 categories, "Minor", "Major" and "Critical".
-Minor defects:
A defect that is not likely to reduce the usability of the product, but is likely to reduce the salability or a discrepancy from the defined quality standard or not same as the original sample.Minor defects are usually small, in most cases the customer wouldn’t even notice a minor defect on a product.
-Major defects:
A defect that is likely to result in product failure, reduction the usability of the product and obvious appearance defect affecting the salability of the product. A product with a major defect departs significantly from the buyer’s product specifications. Major defects are those which could adversely affect the function, performance or appearance of a product.
-Critical defects:
A defect that fails to meet mandatory regulations and / or affects the safety of the consumer when using the product. Critical defects render an item completely unusable and/or could cause harm to the user.These defects put businesses at serious risk of product liability issues and product recalls.
What does Sampling Plan mean?
This is a Specific Plan that indicates the Sampling sizes to be drawn for Inspections and it is also associated with acceptance or non acceptance criteria in it.
What is AQL?
AQL means “Acceptable Quality Level”, it illustrates the acceptable quality level of products needed.The designed value of defects is expressed as a percentage by the particular sampling procedure.Different AQLs may be designed for different classifications such as Critical, Major and Minor defect.
What does AQL 2.5 mean?
AQL 2.5 denotes that the permissible threshold for major defective goods is 2.5% of the total order quantity. If the batch produced contains a defect level that surpasses 2.5% defects, the product's quality does not meet the agreed-upon standards.
How to do AQL sampling?
AQL sampling, which stands for "Acceptable Quality Level" sampling, is a widely used method to inspect and determine the quality of a batch of products. It involves randomly selecting a sample from the batch and inspecting it according to a predefined set of criteria. The results of the inspection help determine whether the batch meets the acceptable quality level or not. Here are steps on how to perform AQL sampling:

Step 1: Define AQL Levels and Inspection Criteria
Step 2: Determine Sample Size and Acceptance Number
Step 3: Randomly Select the Sample
Step 4: Inspect the Sample
Step 5: Count and Record Defects
Step 6: Compare Results with AQL Criteria & decide on next steps
What is AQL level 1 2 and 3?
AQL (Acceptable Quality Level) levels are used in quality control and sampling procedures to determine the maximum number of defects that are considered acceptable in a batch of products. The AQL level is denoted by a numerical value followed by a designation of I, II, or III representing different inspection stringencies. Each level has its own corresponding acceptable quality levels for critical, major, and minor defects.
Here are the typical AQL levels and their corresponding defect acceptance rates:
AQL Level I (AQL 1.0):
Critical Defects: 0
Major Defects: 2.5%
Minor Defects: 4.0%
AQL Level II (AQL 2.5):
Critical Defects: 0
Major Defects: 4.0% Minor Defects: 6.5%
AQL Level III (AQL 4.0):
Critical Defects: 0
Major Defects: 6.5%
Minor Defects: 10.0%
What are the types of AQL?
There are two main types of AQL used in quality control:
General Inspection Level AQL
Special Inspection Level AQL
What does 1.5 AQL mean?
An AQL of 1.5 means that the acceptable quality level for the production batch is 1.5%. In other words, no more than 1.5% of the total items in the batch are allowed to be defective
What is the use of an AQL table?
The AQL table is a valuable tool used in quality control to determine the sample size and acceptance criteria for inspecting a batch of products. It helps ensure that the batch meets the acceptable quality level (AQL) as defined for the specific product.
How to read AQL Chart?
To read AQL Chart or Table -
  • Identify the AQL Level and lot size range
  • Find the Sample Size Code Letter & determine its size
  • Perform inspection and compare the results 
  • Decide on Lot Acceptance
What does AQL Inspection represent?
The AQL inspection allows organizations to make informed decisions about accepting or rejecting a production batch based on the level of defects found in the sample.

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