From my 20-year experience in China sourcing business, I’ve learned that solid quality inspections are crucial to the success of sourcing from China. However, many new importers are not familiar with the types of inspections and do not know what they should choose. I’m glad to share with you the brief inspections as following.
Step 1: Pre-production inspection
Make sure your supplier uses the right material and components is concerned by some customers. For example, a tumbler should be made from 304 stainless steel, but some unreliable supplier make is instead of 201 stainless steel; A die casting auto parts should be made from A 380 aluminums alloy, but supplier makes it by using ADC 12; A bicycle hub should be used ceramic bearing, but your supplier uses a stainless-steel bearing for you. When you received these products but find that they were not the products you have ordered.
If your supplier is a reliable, honesty, and trustworthiness manufacturer, you don’t need to worry about this question. However, we can’t confirm a new supplier they are reliable enough. So, we need to do something to confirm or request supplier using the correct material and components for your products. Here are some solutions to help overseas company who doesn’t want to spend the money on product inspection services company.
a.Request supplier to provide material certification.
b. Ask for a material or components sample before placing the order.
c. Sign a contract with supplier and write material and components requirement in the quality control terms.
Although these points cannot 100% ensure Chinese manufacturers to use the material and components as requirement, but it can be a better deterrent than do nothing. And it also tells suppliers that the right material and components are very important for you and they must use the correct one.
Step 2: During production inspection
During production inspection is the most important during the quality control system and product inspection program. Everything should be control during the process. During manufacturing, product should be 100% checking before it was packaged. Most of regular manufacturers have on-site inspection post. When product finish manufacturing and checked by inspectors, on-site inspector should inspect every one or two hours (It depends on the product).
It is unrealistic to hire an inspector to stay at the factory for most of small business. The business is too small to pay other cost. However, we can ask supplier to provide some documents to confirm that they have quality control system and is not a workshop without quality management system. These documents are very important to control the quality product if you don’t want to hire a third-party product inspection company to work for you.
a. Ask you supplier to provide the framework of their organization. After you get it, you can learn their quality control system.
b. Confirm your supplier has process description for operators.
c. Ask supplier to tell you the number of during production inspector and what is their job.
d. Learn the during production inspection checking list and tell your concerns to suppliers.
These points are the basic work to confirm a supplier if it has quality control system if don’t want to spend money on product inspection services or supplier audit. Of course, you can ask any question about quality control if you are interesting. But, please don’t trust what the supplier told you. Documents, pictures, and video provided by supplier are the strong evidence that they have quality control system which includes during production inspection process.
In some Chinese factories, packaging operator is also responsible for product inspection. This kind of inspector is also very important to quality control that they can prevent bad quality product was delivered to final customer if they cannot be found during the pre-shipment inspection process.
Step 3: Pre-shipment inspection
Pre-shipment inspection is the last step to prevent bad quality product be shipped to final customer and is the most important product inspection step. It is the most effective way to control the quality. Overseas customers import products from China, they pay money to Chinese suppliers and get the products match their requirement. Because customer can reject any products if the quality or other points cannot match their requirements. This is the deal. So, most of overseas customer only check the final product’s quality, by themselves or third-party product inspection services company.
Pre-shipment inspection is usually operated before final payment and booking. Customer can hire a third-party quality control company or product inspection services provider to help them check products before payment and booking.
Pre-shipment inspection is the final product inspection and includes appearance inspection, function inspection, dimension inspection, and package inspection. How to check and what is the checklist are depend on the product and customer’s requirement. As a sourcing agent in China, we have rich experience on product inspection and we know that every customer is concerned about their product and don’t want to receive any product with defects. However, for some products with a hug of quantity, it is not practical or high cost to 100% checking or inspect all the product. Random inspection or random test is the most popular for pre-shipment inspection, such as 5 pcs, 10 pcs, 3%, 5% or 10%, etc.
Hire a third-party product inspection services company to check the quality is the common ways to control the quality at low-cost if overseas company cannot inspect the product in person. But there are a lot of product inspection services providers in China, how to find a reliable one?
a. Product inspection services provider should specialize in your field. For example, if you want to check the dimension of product, you should hire a product inspection company who has mechanical inspector.
b. Product inspection company based in internationalized city such as Shanghai and Shenzhen always can provide specialized product inspection services.
c. A product inspection company who is close to your supplier always can provide a lower inspection charge. For example, your supplier is located at Ningbo, Zhejiang province, China, you should not hire an inspection services company who bases in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China.
d. Ask for the demo of product inspection report, and add the points and terms to match your requirement.
Pre-shipment inspection is one kind of product inspection which can give overseas companies some assurances when importing from China. Of course, customers also can complain when they receive the product cannot match their requirement if they hire a third-party product inspection company to check the products, but it is passiveness in that kind of situation. We always suggest overseas customers to hire a third-party product inspection services provider to help them check the product before shipping when importing from China.