Essential Knowledge to Quality Inspection

For importers, it’s important to have its own inspector or 3-rd party inspector to do quality inspection prior to shipment, however, the process and exact work details are daunting for most new importers.  Most product inspections follow a process with several specific steps. When an inspection goes wrong, it’s most often because steps weren’t clear, or inspectors otherwise didn’t follow them according to the buyer’s instructions.

1. Pulling random samples for inspection

Most importers know the importance of pulling random samples during QC inspection using a statistically-significant acceptance sampling method. Without pulling samples randomly, you risk getting a report that doesn’t fairly represent the quality of the entire shipment.

Factory staff can actually hinder inspection accuracy if permitted to choose which units will be checked. Some may “cherry pick” samples or direct inspectors to check units they know will meet requirements from a specific area of the warehouse.

2. Checking the product against specifications

You might provide your QC team with CAD drawings, an approved sample and other reference materials to clarify product specifications. Your QC checklist should not only direct your inspector’s attention to these, but also list any other specifications they should check during inspection.

A QC checklist typically covers product specifications such as:

A.    Item weight and dimensions

B.    Material and construction

C.   Item color

D.   Item marking and labeling, and

E.    General appearance

3. Verifying packaging requirements

Obvious problems with packaging are normally easy to spot. But some of the more specific details are easy to miss during inspection and reporting if you don’t include them in your quality manual.

Your inspector will typically reference your checklist for the exact type of packaging, markings or labeling, artwork and other requirements they must confirm at the factory.

4. Classifying and reporting quality defects

Most products are prone to a set of quality defects unique to their product type. For example, warping is a defect known to affect wooden products. And flash is a defect known to affect injection-molded products.

 

But without clarification in your QC checklist, your inspector is likely to misreport—or omit from their report entirely—any product defects found.

QC professionals typically classify defects as “critical”, “major” or “minor” in order of severity. And inspection checklists often have a section for defects and how to classify them, which the inspector uses to determine defect severity.

5. Conducting on-site testing

On-site product testing is an essential part of QC inspection for a wide variety of products. Inspectors conduct product tests to identify any issues that might affect your products’ safety, function or performance.

Product inspectors rely on inspection checklists to provide testing criteria and procedures, testing sample sizes and more. Inspectors might perform testing incorrectly or misreport the result if they’re following an incomplete QC checklist.

Let’s say you’re manufacturing electric blenders—a product with many parts that need to work together:

A.    The lid must fit correctly onto the container

B.    The container must fit correctly onto the blade assembly; 

C.   The blade assembly must fit correctly onto the base unit.

Conclusion

If you were at your supplier’s factory personally inspecting your order, you would want to check certain aspects of your product. And while you might not be available to inspect every order, you can still advise others on how to review your product based on your same standard.

By remaining mindful of how product inspectors use inspection checklists, you can help inspectors help you. With the aid of a QC checklist, your inspectors are more likely to be fully aware of your quality requirements.

When QC staff have a detailed checklist on hand you can sleep more soundly knowing that you’ve provided all the information necessary to conduct a thorough inspection.