As per the data available, in 2019, the global manufacturing of product output was sourced maximum from China, which was 28.7 % of the total global manufacturing output. This data is an eye-opener for countries like the USA whose contribution was merely 16.8%.
Now we can call China as the largest manufacturer in the world. If you are in any manufacturing business, importer, or trader then it is very likely that you also must be sourcing goods from China.
However, if you have any prior experience of manufacturing a product in China, then you must be aware that quality remains one of the topmost concerns. Therefore, it is extremely important that you must ensure that all the goods that you import from China must meet your required specifications.
To maintain your reputation on the market, it is necessary that you have to comply with certain standards of quality that you have set for your products.
Although your own quality control (QC), as well as inspections, can enable you to achieve this. However, it is also essential that you must avoid any defective goods as an input to your manufacturing process. Therefore, in this article, we shall discuss how you must perform the China quality inspection while importing from China.
Why quality inspection is essential?
The following are the reasons why you must always have a very strict China quality control while importing any industrial products:
Ensures quality goods production
By making a suitable combination of QC and QA will surely impact your quality positively to your own required specifications of the products manufactured by you.
Minimises variations in your production
While manufacturing any kind of product, there can be a certain variation that can occur in your products. Once you are able to identify the underlying reasons behind such variations, you will be able to add certain steps and a few checks to your own mandated QA processes for reducing all such variations in your products.
Reduces your losses
You can certainly reduce the quantity of rejected pieces that you receive from China or any other sources by doing proper QC checks, which may never be sellable. If the defective pieces on your input supply increase, then you will suffer higher losses.
Increases your sales margins as planned
Various QC checks can also cut down any chance of you receiving any poor quality of items that finally you will be forced to sell on the market at reduced or discounted prices.
Leads to the retention of your consumer
Most businesses generally decide their target customer group and based on that certain qualities are set. You will be expected to supply all your products to meet that standard of quality.
In case, because of any poor quality of Chinese supply goods, your product quality cannot be met, even by offering your products at a certain lower price will not help. You will be at risk of losing that segment of your customer base at the end of the day.
Increased consumer satisfaction
If you can manage to maintain a better quality of your products and assure your customers that you can uphold the quality that they expect from the products that you are supplying to them, then certainly they will buy and promote you.
If you can offer any certifications or accreditations on your products then it can increase their confidence and satisfaction. There is every likelihood that they are going to do business with you for long term.
Thus, there exists a direct connection between your quality and also their loyalty to you.
Who can assure your quality of products in China?
Now since you have decided to import your input materials from China then how can you ensure China quality inspection from your own country? There are the following few options that you have.
Ask manufacturers to send their quality report
The first option will be to negotiate with China suppliers, who in most cases is a certain manufacturer to do their in-house review of their product quality and send you their report.
However, most manufacturers are in fact more interested in ensuring their business growth and profit than assuring you their product quality.
Their in-house QC team must be having necessary experience and knowledge when it is concerning their quality control. However, they will look more into what their senior manager wants.
Most manufacturers are more interested to complete the order as early as possible and dispatching the products so that they get their payments in time. Therefore, quality is not their priority though they may offer some lip service and send you some quality reports, but can you really depend on that?
Ask your trading/sourcing partner
You have another option to hire a certain trading or Chinese sourcing company to work as your partner in China. These partners can help you to identify a quality supplier as they are more aware of Chinese industries and their ways of doing business.
Quite a few of these sourcing partners are resourceful enough to assist you in China quality inspection too. They can work on certain commissions and will be keen to keep you as their important customer, so that you may continue to offer the business.
In many cases, you can rely on them to offer you an unbiased quality evaluation report. Besides, they also have a business relationship with several manufacturers in China because of their own business interest in trading and can use this leverage to your benefit.
Third-party inspection service available in China
One more similar option for you will be to find any reputable third-party service provider who can do inspection service for your supply in China and perform a China quality inspection as per your required standards.
Since they are not working for the supplier, hence they will have a totally neutral outlook towards them. However, this does not mean that you totally leave the quality inspection process entirely on them to handle.
All that you can do is work with them and specify all your requirements and after that check whether they are following the process as per your satisfaction.
Lastly, you can form your own team who can visit China and perform product quality inspections. However, this can be a little expensive way as you have to spend for their training, travel expenses, accommodation, and as a result, your import costs will go high.
Let us discuss the third option that we discussed above and that is using the services of any independent third party in China to do the necessary quality inspection on your behalf in a little more detail.
What process is followed during product inspections?
1. You need to submit the quantity of your product, their details, and the address/contact info of the Chinese supplier.
2. You need to tell your sampling size and your AQL (Accepted Quality Level).
3. You need to specify your quality parameters and sampling plan and define major or minor defects acceptable or unacceptable to you.
4. You will be given a final report with yellow as minor defect and red with major defects for your decision.
Pre-production quality inspection
Third-party inspectors will also perform pre-production inspection before the manufacturer starts the production process. They will check the raw materials and components used and check their sample product.
Check the production processes
Since you cannot be present during the production process at the manufacturer’s end hence the qualified inspectors of third-party inspection team will visit the factory and verify the complete manufacturing process and ensure that it is done as per your needs.
Initial production inspection
This is an important inspection service provided by the third-party inspectors to check that all raw materials being used for the production process are meeting the required standards of quality.
What is checked during this inspection service?
· Checking the capacity of production line to give an estimate by what date your order can be ready.
· Ensure the quality control procedure existing in the factory and whether that can meet your quality standard expectations professionally.
· Double-check the production practices for ensuring that entire quality control measures will meet your expectations.
· Verifying the quantity and quality of all the raw materials to be used during manufacturing to predict any possible mistakes.
Quality inspection during production
The certified and trained inspectors will examine and inspect a certain lot of the products to check for any possible defects. This kind of inspection will be done after 50 to 70% of the completion of products.
If any issue is detected then it will be informed to the manufacturer to take suitable action to resolve the issue.
Every record will be made for every step and action taken during the production stages. It will be both as reports and also photographs.
By seeing these reports, you can understand whether the supplier is following all your instructions that was agreed on in the contract. The inspection team will regularly update you with the current status.
This inspection is also a very important step because usually, this takes place just before shipping the products. They will check the following:
· Check the quantity and quality of the product.
· Detect any last-minute irregularities in the products.
· Ensure all products meet all the safety standards.
How much do any quality inspections cost?
We have tried to work out how much does it cost for one man-day to perform the quality check. We have tried to work out what are the various activities during the work for one man-day:
1. Studying the documents and the various checklist takes 15-30 minutes.
2. Visiting the factory takes an average time of 1-2 hours.
3. Introduction, meeting, visiting the warehouse takes 10 minutes.
4. Counting, doing proper sampling, picking the samples may take about 30-45 minutes on average.
5. Inspection of outer packing, inner packing and, unit packing and the product may take about 4 hours.
6. Lunch hours and waiting may take 90 minutes.
7. Noting down and explaining their findings to the management of the factory and discussing may take 15 minutes.
8. Coming back again from the factory may take 1-2 hours.
9. Preparing the report and taking photos may take 1 hour.
On an average, this is almost a 12-hours job, and often it may involve much more than what you can estimate. Expenses for travel will also apply, then the labour cost, if the factory happens to be far away then extra expenses may be needed.
How does QC inspection work in practice?
Let us take an example of buying a widgets batch from a certain Chinese supplier. You found that after they send samples, there are a few misunderstandings and a few lapses in quality.
Now you decided to work with any inspection agency. They will do the final random inspection, just a few days prior to shipment, which is the right moment for counting the quantity, collecting samples randomly, and checking all those samples.
If your requirements are not met and the quality is inconsistent, then the report of the inspector will show it.
Arranging inspections of quality in China
Let us say that you like to arrange a certain quality inspection of any of your Chinese products in China, then what should you tell the Quality inspection agency that is going to do this?
The contact information of the manufacturer with factory address (if possible).
The product description with photos and if possible with a short video.
Short description about packing and packaging.
Your quality specification and what you can or cannot accept.
Your quantity breakdown with models, sizes, or colours.
As a bonus, ensure that they have a certain physical sample in their hand. It can help a lot because certain aspects of their touch and feel cannot be put into a word even with a video.
The main objective of these third-party inspection companies is to help any company like yours by using a checklist supplied by you to do a necessary QC check as per your guidelines. More elaborate your specification, it can help them to inspect properly.