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 all the goods you import from China must meet the specifications. To maintain your reputation on the market, it is necessary that you comply with certain standards of quality that you have set for your products.
If you are considering manufacturing products in China, you surely understand the importance of quality control. After all, shipping products from China without any quality control procedure is a naïve thing to do.
Now, when you ask your Chinese manufacturer for quality control, the most basic answer you can expect is – Yes, we do have a quality control team. Well, they are not lying, and they have an in-house quality control team, but can you trust their effectiveness? The short answer is – No.
If you ask around, most of the importers will tell you that just relying on the manufacturer’s quality control is not sufficient. Getting a product inspection done by an independent quality control company is crucial.
Here we will explain about how you can effectively manage quality control in China.
Why is quality control important?
Better product quality - An effective quality control will give you assured product quality as per your specifications and requirement. It decreases the chances of product variations. In-process inspections will let you know the underlying reasons for product variations and thus you can eliminate them.
Minimizes monetary loses - Without any thorough inspection, there are chances that you will end up with more defective pieces. The higher the number of defective pieces, the higher the monetary loss you experience.
Increases sales margin - Quality control inspections will minimize the chances of you receiving defective pieces, and this means you need not sell any defective pieces at a discounted price.
Ensures consumer retention - It will take a lot of time and trust to build a strong customer base. When you supply products of consistent quality, your consumers will remain loyal to your brand. However, if the quality gets poor you are at risk of losing customers.
Why factory’s quality control is not dependable?
A factory’s in-house quality control team usually consists of internal workers who are responsible for quality control, not independent inspectors. The team is OK only if they are producing low-quality common products. After all, the workers are not well trained in professional product knowledge and quality mentality. When it comes to high-quality or custom products, issues overlooked by factory quality control staff can cause heavy losses for buyers. After all, the factory’s internal quality control is not effective and undependable.
Selecting an appropriate quality control method
Quality control inspections work best only when you have a proper understanding of your product requirements and quality specifications. Below are a few criteria that you must consider before picking one quality control inspection method:
- History of quality issues of a particular product
- The value of the product
- Your target markets
- Product specifications and potential quality issues
- Production and shipping targets
- Requirement of your end customers.
Third-party inspection works best
Most importers believe in hiring third-party inspection companies. This method works best if you want to ensure product quality but don’t have the time or money to travel to China. Hiring a third party for quality control in China might seem like quite a task, but the benefits make it all worth it.
By working with a QC company, you don’t need to develop an office in China and hire full-time staff. You can hire the services of third-party inspection companies as you need. They will conduct thorough inspections and provide you with detailed reports. The inspection report provided by QC inspectors mostly includes the following details:
- Total quantity of finished and packed products ready at the factory. This counting ensures proper quantity is produced as per your order, and a production timeline has been adhered to.
- Number as well as types of defects found in inspected products.
- Details of noncompliance with the provided product and quality specifications.
- Results of on-site testing.
- Pictures of all defects, the inspected units, defects, marking, packaging, and any other relevant information.
Furthermore, the staff of third-party inspection companies will represent your interest just like a full-time inspector would. They do not have any type of relationship with the manufacturer other than inspecting your products. In simple words, they avoid all sorts of issues that can eventually lead to integrity problems.
What process is followed during product inspections?
In application stage, you need to submit product quantity, product details, factory’s address and contact information.
You need to choose your sampling plan and your AQL (Accepted Quality Level). Also, you need to specify your quality parameters and define the major or minor defects acceptable or unacceptable to you.
1. Pre-production quality inspection
Third-party inspectors can perform pre-production inspection before the manufacturer starts the production process. They will check the raw materials and components.
Since you cannot be present during the production process at the factory, hence the qualified inspectors of third-party QC team will visit the factory and verify the complete manufacturing process and ensure that it is done as per standard operational procedure.
The QC inspector will:
- Check the setting of production line to make sure everything is ready for manufacturing.
- Ensure the quality control procedure existing in the factory and whether that can meet the quality standard and your expectations.
- Double-check the production practices for ensuring that entire quality control measures will meet the requirements.
- Verify the quality of materials and parts to predict any possible mistakes.
2. In-process quality inspection
The certified and trained inspectors will examine a certain lot of the products to check for any possible defects. This kind of inspection will be done after 5 to 20% of the products are completed. If any issue is detected, then it will be informed to the management of the manufacturer to take suitable action to resolve the issue.
Reports will be made for every step and action taken during the production stages. The reports will show both data and photographs. By seeing these reports, you can understand whether the supplier is following all your instructions that was agreed on in the contract.
3. Pre-shipment inspection
This inspection is also a very important step because this takes place just before shipping the products. The QC inspectors will check the following:
- The quantity and quality of the product.
- Irregularities in the products.
- Safety, function, and appearance standards.
How does QC inspection work in practice?
Let us take an example of buying a widgets batch from a certain Chinese supplier. When you receive the samples, you find there are a few misunderstandings and a few lapses in quality.
Now you have decided to work with an 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 random samples, and checking quality for all those samples.
If your requirements are not met and the quality is inconsistent, then the inspection report will show all details. As you will only pay the final amount to the factory after you receive a positive inspection result, you still have chance to ask the factory to rework and solve all the problems.
Once the rework is finished, you can arrange a re-inspection with the independent QC company. Usually, the cost of re-inspection can be charged to the factory, as it’s the factory’s fault to cause the additional cost. Most of Chinese factories can accept such condition as they also want to deliver high-quality products so as to keep long-term business relationship with the clients.
It can be said that you must have invested a lot of your money and time in developing your product and brand, and thus the last thing you would want is for it all to go into the trash because of poor quality control measures. So, don’t neglect quality control in China. Do your homework, and get your products thoroughly inspected by a reliable third-party QC agency.
For any new business, mistakes are expected to happen. After all, it is a part of the learning process. However, you can always prevent expensive mistakes by ensuring proper quality control. Therefore, consider going for all three – incoming quality control, in-process inspection, and pre-shipment inspection to effectively manage quality control in China. Your efforts to ensure quality will pay off and take your business to greater height.