The 4 ways of checking product quality before shipment
Posted: April 30, 2012
by Renaud Anjoran
I can see four solutions for checking product quality before the goods are shipped out (remember, it is extremely hard to send a container of defective products back to China).
Inspections by external inspector(s) in the factory
It is typically performed by a third-party quality control agency, or by the buyer's in-house QC staff.
In 80-90% of cases, it is conducted after production is finished. Depending on the report conclusion, the importer accepts or rejects the shipment.
Final inspections on a platform
This solution is popular with some large buyers, mostly from Japan.
Once the goods are completed, they are brought by the supplier to a platform usually a forwarder warehouse. A certain number of cubic meters of storage is rented, as well as inspection room(s).
Platform inspections are conducted either on a randomly selected set of samples, or on 100% of the goods.
Piece-by-piece inspection in the factory
If you want to check 100% of production (once it is over), piece by piece inspection in the factory might be a good idea.
You basically set up the final quality control line in the factory, with inspectors that are not on the manufacturer's payroll.
Training & auditing internal inspector(s) in the factory
Training an internal inspector is ideal for the following situation: you purchase more than 30% of a factory's output, you have been working with them for more than a year, you trust them very much, and you need better reporting on your production (both on quality and on timing).
Once an in-house inspector (on the factory's payroll) has been trained and is dedicated to you, the key is to set up a reporting & auditing system. Then, the only ongoing cost is to audit his work (once every couple of weeks at the beginning, and less often if it runs fine).
There are other solutions beyond inspection
As Deming wrote, the ideal is to "cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for massive inspection by building quality into the product in the first place."
You can do it by improving the reliability of the manufacturing process, and by reducing risks during product design. But this is outside the scope of this article