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Things You Should Know about Pre-Shipment Inspection in China

2024-05-20
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Now almost every business company has understood that by wholesale sourcing from China they can increase their profitability. However, one thing that most businessmen often fail to understand that unless they incorporate a proper system of pre-shipment inspection on the products that they are planning to import, all their expectations cannot be met.

If you order goods from anywhere, you need to be sure before you pay for them and ship them to their destination that they are fit for purpose. That’s the reason for a final pre-shipment inspection. This is one of the most important parts in China quality control. These inspections must be carried out by qualified QC inspectors before the products are dispatched. Pre-shipment inspection usually take place at the end of the manufacturing process when over 80% of the order is complete and packed for shipping. 

What is a pre-shipment inspection?

Many of us do not understand the details about a pre-shipment inspection. There are standards for pre-shipment inspection based on the AQL (Acceptable Quality Level), which ensure that the sample size drawn from any given shipment is significant and represents the whole shipment.

The basic purposes of this kind of inspection are to:

- Ascertain the quantity and quality of the products.
- Check products if they have any defects.
- Ensure products will meet all the safety requirements of the destination market.
- Issue a final report for import and billing.

The following aspects are inspected during a final pre-shipment inspection:

- Safety
- Conformity to legal requirements
- Quantity
- Function
- Durability
- Appearance
- Dimensions
- Packaging.

After the successful pre-shipment inspection, the China inspection agency will issue an inspection report and that will accompany the consignment to its destination. The value of a final inspection reduces the need for quality control at the receiving party. You know that you are good to confirm the required standards before they are shipped, giving you peace of mind and preventing costly repair and recall.

Suppose you have any doubt before embarking on the final processing of an inspection or outsourcing the whole process. In that case, you can talk about your requirements with the quality testing specialist if that is more convenient or cost-effective.

The advantages of pre-shipment inspections

Pre-shipment inspections help in preventing defective batch shipment. Quality control inspection is done by quantifying and sorting out the defects before the goods are shipped. They reduce the number of defective products receiving the customer. When done before and during production, the inspiration investigates the different sources and feeds the information to the right channels to implement corrective action to reduce the rate of defects.

Pre-shipment inspections also help prevent errors and catches from before they turn into serious side effects, and save time and resources on products that are bound to be rejected after production for not meeting the even specification. It is an advantage for the manufacturer and the buyers.

Key steps of a pre-shipment inspection

1. Inspection visit

Most pre-shipment inspections will take place at the factory. If the QC inspectors think that the products contain any restricted chemicals, then off-site lab testing may be advised for those products. An example is, products may contain toxic chemicals like lead and toxins derived from dyes, which are usually very tightly regulated in the US and Europe.

2. Quantity verification

The inspectors will count the shipping cartons for verifying the correct quantity. Besides, this will also ensure that the correct quantity of products is sent to the right destination that was agreed between a buyer and the supplier, so that bank can initiate payment if applicable. Also, it will be checked to verify whether the correct packing materials have been used to ensure safe transportation, and correct labels are applied.

3. Random sampling

If you have hired a skilled pre-shipment inspection service which is internationally recognized, then they will use statistical sampling procedure. According to this standard the acceptable number of flaws within a batch prior to rejection is determined with an AQL (Acceptance Quality Limit). The AQL may vary based on what type of product is under evaluation. However, the objective is to offer a balanced, unbiased view.

4. Conformity verification

The QC inspectors will check dimensions of the product, material and construction, colour, weight, marking, and labelling. All the specifications will be checked against purchase order and approved documents. For all other products, dimensions will be much more important, so measurements will be done for all the finished products and will be compared with the original approved samples.

5. Safety and function test

These tests will depend upon the nature of products that you are importing from China. For example, if you are importing any household hardgoods, the QC inspector will check them physically. They will check the strengths of connections, parts, and other accessories.

For any moving products like bicycles or pushchairs a mechanical safety test will be conducted whether they can cause any injuries if they ever get defective. Shape and design of the item will be checked to see if there is any sharp edges or parts available that can hurt. Shape of few critical items like screw and hinges will be checked whether they are safe enough.

If you are importing any electrical/electronic products, then there are wide ranges of safety regulations are in place that will be checked before they are certified. To evaluate for electrical safety various testing will be done under laboratory conditions and the following tests will be conducted:

High voltage test: In this test, product’s ability to withstand a high voltage will be checked by applying high voltages between electrical circuit and the ground.

Leakage current test: Checking will be done to find whether current flowing between an AC source and the ground should not exceeds a certain specified limit.

Insulation resistance test: The quality of electrical insulation will be checked.

Ground continuity test: To make sure that a clear path exists between all exposed metal parts and the power system ground.

6. Cosmetic and workmanship check

In this check, the first thing an inspector is going to look at from the random selection will be the overall workmanship of all the finished products, so that they can identify any immediately visible defects.

Defects can typically be classified as:

- Critical
- Major
- Minor.

This classification will be based on certain predetermined acceptable tolerance levels, usually which are agreed upon between the supplier and manufacturer during product development.

7. Inspection report

At the end, when all the inspection activities are completed, a detailed report will be compiled with a clear pass/fail result, detailed account of each inspection results, and an overview of various key findings. Usually, pre-shipment reports also include clear images to show all inspection points, so you can verify exactly what was discovered. For proper coordination of all these activities your sourcing agent can play a very important role to make your inspection report more authentic for you.

Issues may happen during pre-shipment inspections in China

Let us now discuss a few issues that are faced when doing pre-shipment inspections while importing goods from China. 

1. Interest conflicts of the inspection agency

If the inspection is done keeping in consideration of the interest of the company, then the inspection report can be trusted. However, if any individual has his own interest, then the inspection report is likely to be unreliable.

2. Unclear expectations

Often the inspecting agency may not be very clear what the quality parameters to be checked is and what are the maximum and minimum limits. Particularly, if a third-party agency is involved in the inspection, then clear standards or a correct sample of product must be available so that the inspector can use that as a reference standard. If a reference standard or a clear specification is missing, then the inspection report will be meaningless.

3. Lack of responsibility

If the people involved in the inspection is not fully committed to the interest of the company, then they may inspect against a certain faulty sample and clear the product.

The real problem comes when the products received at destination are found defective. The manufacturer will not take the responsibility and will point fingers to inspecting agency. On the other hand, inspecting agency will also not be ready to take full responsibility of the goof up. As a result, at the end of the day the importer will suffer the loss.

4. “Good enough” mindset

In a country like China, people may be a little complacent and they may accept any product as “good enough” which may not be acceptable to a consumer in the western countries. Here a trusted sourcing agent in China can play a very effective role to get a genuine pre-shipment inspection report.

Tips to resolve above issues

1. Look for companies that can offer continuous training. Credible inspection companies will have inspectors who are well trained. This will help to ensure that inspectors will be up to date on the latest standards.

2. Prefer those inspectors who are trustworthy and dedicated to your company’s interests. If you notice any sign of self-interest, then don’t involve them in inspection.

3. Try to appoint an inspection agency who are aware of the standard of your country/destination country and are committed to quality standards.

4. Hire a company who can offer a comprehensive inspection and can inspect different facets of your product

Enjoy peace of mind with quality inspections in China

Quality inspection has great importance to any manufacturer. This inspection process includes measuring, testing, gauging, examining several product characteristics, and comparing achieved results with specific requirements to achieve each characteristic’s conformality. The inspection products can be components used in production, finished goods, inventory, or every work in process. 

Inspection includes measurements, estimates, and examination to decide whether the uniqueness of a particular object or any activity is up to its predecessor it standard or not. Inspection is a must at every stage and level of society to ensure that laws and regulations are enforced as reasonably and efficiently as possible to ensure the safety and security of every production batch. 

Something about QC inspection team

QC inspectors are well-trained guys who are interested in the job of assessing and generating reports. This type of inspection forces everyone to abide by the rules and regulations. Hence inspection in the time produces a lot of unnecessary expenses.  

The main reason behind carrying inspection of every product is to make sure that its safety standard remains high both at the public and personal level. At the time of investigation, if the inspection finds that quality standards are low, preventive measures are taken immediately. Therefore, a good inspection guarantees public safety in every aspect.

The growth of export industry in China 

Thanks to the liberalization policy, export business in China is now highly progressive and has contributed significantly to the country’s economic growth in the last year. China was included in the world trade organization back in 2001, which opened the door to Global trade. The figure can speak well for itself. In the last 30 years, the average close domestic product was at 8%, a very significant growth rate. 

Overall, China now stands as the second largest economy after the USA. Expert predicts that China could very well overtake the USA after a few more years. The significant economic growth in China is recognized worldwide. So, this shows that it is very beneficial for China’s export businesses to be distributed to other exports in Asia, Europe, and America.  

China mostly exports its main industrial products and consumer products. China is steadily surging forward and making economic reforms to further its name in international trade. You can become an expert export-import China business to still move ahead and beyond another major player after a few more years. China is an essential factor for exporting worldwide, it also understands that in order to keep good name in a global market, China has to improve the quality control for a better result, that’s why pre-shipment inspections are highly emphasized in the export industry.

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