Sourcing products from a manufacturer can appear to be a test of faith. You are trusting your money and the future of your company in the hands of workers who you may not have direct access to. A lot of the times, customers don’t get to monitor the production process directly and even if they do, it is difficult to keep track. The anxiety and hassle of ensuring quality assured products is multiplied when the products are being sourced from a place you don’t have access to, which is often the case. Most companies source products from countries that have cheaper labor and higher workforce. In these cases, without adequate quality control measures at every step, it can be too late before you notice anything wrong with the products you receive. This is where quality control services come in.
Quality control services are rendered by trained QC professionals who do the quality check for you in the sites of production. Some manufacturers offer quality control services themselves, with their own staff performing the required measures at each stage. However, a third party quality control method is often the better way to go about it, for the both the customer and the supplier.
Having someone specifically for the task of quality control can ensure the product undergoes the check at every stage. This is beneficial for both the manufacturer and the supplier. An early stage inspection will reveal any flaws in the raw material, quality or quantity wise. This is to ensure smooth functioning once production starts. An inspection during production ensures that at each stage the product meets the expected standards. This way the manufacturer can know if something is wrong at any specific stage of production. Early management of mistakes and rectifications can help avoid complications at the final stage and ensure customer satisfaction. A final quality check is also done to assess the overall shipment.
Suppliers or manufacturers who are open to a third party inspection seem more accessible and open to the customers. This increases transparency and increases trust. When a supplier agrees to regular quality checks by an outsider, it emphasises that the supplier is more invested in customer satisfaction. Additionally, when a professional third party mediates the interaction between a supplier and customer, there is a better chance of communication. This is especially true in the cases of overseas productions, where the languages and culture might be alien to the customer.
Inspection services offered by a professional agency is more likely to deal with inspection visits smoothly and tactfully. When clients visit the production site in person, it can become cumbersome for the workers and production managers. QC service agencies on the other hand, have a knack for assessing the production process without getting in the way of production. Additionally, these QC agents are more likely to recognise flaws and malfunctions than an untrained client.
DUPRO stand for During Production which is an important part of overall quality control assurance. DUPRO is typically done when 10 % -60% of the production process is done. This involves checking if the products meet the customer expectations at this stage of production and identifying any flaws in the process. By conducting a quality check while the production is underway, any flaws identified can be fixed or compensated for in the rest of the production. Random sampling is done to make sure that all products are evenly taken care of. DUPRO also involves a comparison of the timeline set by the customer and the current rate of production. Any negotiations regarding extensions or further speeding up of the process can be done according to the assessment report. Details of packaging and shipment are also taken care of during DUPRO, as a prior to the final quality check.
Quality check is typically done with the help of a checklist to keep track of the client requirements. This includes generalised quality assurance factors such as safety measures and specialised factors which depend of the type of product. Here we look at some of the most important types of tests during a DUPRO inspection.
Timeline specification is an important aspect of any production process. The client and the supplier should agree on a timeline that is convenient for the client and achievable for the supplier. This negotiation is usually included in third party quality check, during the pre-production inspection. Similarly, the resources are assessed for quality and quantity in order to ensure that the production process runs in full capacity once it is underway.
Resources also includes the workforce and factory settings. Lack of adequate workers or equipment can result in less than satisfactory products. After these assessments are made during the pre-production inspection, the production process starts. DUPRO keeps regular checks on these aspects, since a lot of unforeseeable factors can cause changes. DUPRO ensures that the production timeline is maintained throughout. If at all there is any lag or lacking of raw materials and equipment, DUPRO helps to bring the required interventions. With regular DUPRO inspections at each stage of production, any changes or compensatory measures can be made before it is too late in the production process.
Workmanship is a crucial aspect of any production assignment. Shoddy workmanship can cause the entire shipment to fall short of the client’s expectations. In fact, workmanship is one of the make-or-break factors of any client-supplier relationship. DUPRO plays the most important part for this aspect of production because it involves a comparison of finished products with products still under construction. This helps the manufacturer know whether the workmanship standards are being met and if not, what changes need to be made. Often, third party DUPRO services also include sending a finished sampled to the client for direct approval.
This way, the client can know what to expect in the shipment and suggest changes wherever required. The manufacturer also benefits from this, since approval of the workmanship while the production is still happening can be a huge boost in confidence. In case the workmanship proves to be below the client’s expectations, the manufacturer can bring in extra workforce at this point. Additionally, since DUPRO involves random sampling, it also ensures that all batches of products receive the same level of attention and detail.
As a production process progresses, some of the specifications can change, or get modified. This is due to the fact that projected measurements and specifications might not get translated accurately into reality. The raw materials collected in pre-production can fall short or be turn out to be excessive. The finished products may fall short in terms of numbers or net weight. Manufacturers might try to shave corners and try to minimise the use of expensive raw materials. All of this can result in low quality products or even dysfunctional products. DUPRO keeps a check of quantity while the production in happening. Depending on the percentage of production completed and the stage of production, the quality check officer can assess overuse or underuse of material and report any malfunction. The client is kept in the loop regarding the developments.
A functionality check is mandatory for all production processes. Every product has a specific function it is expected to do and failing to do so can render the product useless. With this in mind, DUPRO conducts random sampling on the products under production for fulfilment of expected functions. This assessment become more complicated with more intricately detailed products. For products that undergo assembling at a final stage, DUPRO is especially useful in locating the dysfunction. Each part will be assessed for functionality, thereby ensuring a satisfactory product at the end. Clients are usually advised to send demonstration videos that detail the making of highly intricate products. DUPRO compares these details with that of the finished or half-finished products and suggests changes, if required.
Since DUPRO takes place after a section of products are completed, it is also convenient to make adequate arrangements for the shipping procedure. This involves ensuring adequate packaging and accurate labelling of the products. The products are analysed for levels of delicateness and other vulnerabilities. Based of these factors, appropriate arrangements are made to pack and label the products, to withstand the ordeal of shipping. Lack of adequate packaging and result in damaged products at the receiving end and inaccurately labelled packages can undergo mishandling. In addition to the arrangements made during DUPRO, the packaging and labelling are double checked during the final inspection. This includes a detailed assessment of the handling of the products during loading and check for any unfavorable weather conditions.
The products that are completed are checked as to whether they meet the expected dimensions and weights. It is not entirely rare that some of the product specifications get lost in translation. DUPRO intervenes at different stages of production to compare the products’ dimensions with against the specifications mentioned by the client. In case they don’t match, the production process is intercepted and corrected.
On-site testing is one of the most important aspects of DUPRO. The nature of on-site testing differs depending on the type of product. All inspection QC checklists will have detailed plan for on-site testing, designed specifically for the product under production. A usual inspection is mainly about visual and tactile checking methods. On-site testing involves detailed tests that assess the different features of the product, such as durability, functionality, resilience etc. Typically, an on-site testing QC checklist would include:
The testing procedure: A detailed account of each testing procedure, which will serve as an instruction manual. This can also be read through and approved by the manufacturer.
Size and method of sampling: Each test might have a different acceptable standard for approval. The on-site QC checklist should also include a description of the sampling method and the required sample size. Random sampling is usually the preferred method of sampling. When determining the sample size and method, the cost suffered by the importer for the same is also taken into consideration. Some products such as garments usually have a fixed sample size for this reason.
Facility for testing: This includes the availability and procurement of equipments for testing. It should be determined beforehand where the equipments would be sourced from and where the testing would be done. Some products might need laboratory testing, others might need chemicals on site for durability testing. These procedures must be taken into account on the QC checklist.
Specialised tests are conducted as part of DUPRO to correct any minor mistakes that might have been overlooked during production. For example, for a garment production process, DUPRO would involve a series tests on the fabric and also minute details such as buttons, zippers etc. This way, the products are ready to hit the market right after shipping. Specialised tests for a garment would include:
The pull test: Garments are tested for durability and workmanship with this test. Stitches are pulled apart with reasonable force to check for faulty work. The force to be applied is specified under International code for QC. This testing is particularly emphasised in children’s clothing production. This is because there is an increased risk of choking or injury with children. Pull test is typically conducted with the help of a pull gauge, which helps apply the standard force for the test. The sample size is usually restricted to a couple of pieces from each type of garment.
Durability test: The materials used on the garment are tested for multiple cycles of use. This is usually done by the inspection team on-site, by hand. Only very specialised materials requires laboratory testing for durability. Durability tests are done on stitches, zips, velcros and any other parts of the garment that might be vulnerable to vigorous use.
Other types of on-site garment testing includes elasticity tests, which are similar to the pull test, buttonhole test and non-conformity tests. Buttonholes are tested for any loose threads of fabric and sturdiness. Non-conformity tests refer to a set of visual tests done to ensure that that products match the specifications set down by the client.
When it comes to packaging and labelling, barcode is the most delicate and sensitive aspect of it all. It is very important to make sure that the barcodes used in the packaging are upto the standards of international quality check. Many companies stick to their own system of developing labels and barcodes, although most reliable barcodes are usually sourced from North America and Canada. GS1 is the current standardization authority on barcodes.
Drop testing is done in the pre-shipment inspection to test the durability and resilience of packaging. This includes random sampling of a package which is then dropped onto a flat surface from a standard height. This is repeated on the samples a minimum of 10 times, from the different sides and angles. The product within the package in then unravelled and checked for any damage. The test maybe modified and repeated if required.
The most important benefit of DUPRO is of course, the assurance of quality. When sourcing products from a different country or from a new manufacturer, it is important that you ensure quality of products. Low quality products mean not just the immediate loss of money but also your brand name. One of the most important aspect to any brand is consistent quality of its products. DUPRO keeps a regular check on the production process, thereby ensuring quality at each step. DUPRO tested products are also more likely to be sold faster and better. Assured quality can boost sales whereas inconsistent quality can lower brand loyalty and affect overall customer base.
One of the major aspects of DUPRO is making sure that the production process follows the timeline set by the client. At each stage of production, it is made sure that the timeline is met and compensatory actions made. In case of any unforeseen delays in the production process, the client is informed and a new timeline maybe negotiated. DUPRO makes these in-production communication easier and more productive. This way, the shipment is ready and available on time without any compromise on quality.
DUPRO is particularly important for a cost effective manufacturing process. Since the inspection happens during production, any flaws are fixed as the production happens, instead of a whole reworking at the end. This way, no unnecessary additional expenditure happens in the name of modifications. The customer is assured satisfaction.
If you are looking for a reliable way to ensure quality products in your shipment, Maple Sourcing is the way to go. Maple Sourcing emphasises on maintaining the integrity of the Quality check process and keeps you in the loop while your products are being made. At Maple Sourcing, quality and customer satisfaction is of the highest priority.