When you import goods from overseas, it is crucial to ensure that the final product meets your requirements for quality. But how can you be sure that your supplier uses quality raw materials and makes products exactly to your specifications?
Receiving sub-standard products can be detrimental to your business, and this is where quality inspections come in. Quality inspection refers to the process of checking your goods or raw materials while they are still at the factory during various stages of production.
A representative of your company can conduct these inspections, or you can hire a third party, like Insight, to do so. There are several different types of quality inspections that every importer should know about. This article discusses the five most common.
3 Types of Inspections for Different Production Stages
There are three main types of quality inspections that you can conduct as your goods are in various stages of production. These are:
#1 Pre-Production Inspection
As the name suggests, importers conduct pre-production inspections before production starts. The primary purpose of a PPI is to confirm overall factory readiness for the production process.
To this end, the third-party inspector might check the raw materials, accessories, and components the factory has prepared to ensure they are of the right quality and match specifications. They may also inspect the factory’s production line, equipment, and facilities.
Pre-production inspections may be appropriate for you if you are working with a new supplier or must meet critical delivery dates such as major holidays. You may also opt for a PPI if your current supplier has had problems maintaining raw material quality.
#2 During Production Inspection
During production inspection or DUPRO refers to a quality inspection that you conduct while production is still underway. In most cases, this happens once the factory has produced at least 20% of the goods.
By conducting inspections at this stage, importers can catch any deviations or defects early. This way, you can take corrective action immediately, reducing costly delays. We recommend DUPRO inspections for goods with strict requirements produced in high volumes or where you must meet strict deadlines and cannot afford any delays.
#3 Pre-Shipment Inspection
Pre-shipment inspection is the most popular of the five types mentioned in this article. Many importers conduct these inspections to verify the quality of their goods before they ship.
Their primary purpose is to ensure that the finished products meet your required specifications. And you can inspect once the factory has finished production and packed at least 80% of your goods.
In a PSI, the quality inspector checks random samples to ascertain dimensions, labeling, basic functionality, and workmanship, among other things. A pre-shipment inspection offers the importer a chance to catch defects before the factory loads the goods into a container to make the journey overseas.
2 Additional Inspection Types
In addition to the three quality inspection types discussed above, there are two other inspections that you may benefit from as an importer. These are:
#1 Loading Inspection
Loading inspection or loading supervision refers to checks that ensure your goods are loaded correctly and safely into the shipping container. The inspector evaluates the shipping container, packaging, and product quantities. While PPI, DUPRO, and PSI help ensure product quality, things can quickly go wrong if mishandling occurs during loading.
Conducting a loading inspection can help ensure that goods are handled professionally, minimizing possible damage or theft. It also reveals any potential issues that the importer can act on immediately, rather than waiting until the goods arrive. Loading inspections can give you added confidence in the shipping process, particularly if you import fragile goods.
#2 Sort Inspection
Sort inspection sometimes becomes necessary when you discover the presence of defective items in your shipment. It involves going through 100% of the products to remove all the faulty units.
It is conducted when quality issues such as color variations, cracks, scratches, and missing parts are discovered in the shipment. The most significant benefit of a sort inspection is to ensure that defective items do not reach your customers, leading to returns, complaints, and brand damage.
Understand Your Inspection Options
Importing sub-standard goods can result in customer complaints, returns, brand damage, and loss of investment. Fortunately, product inspections can help you mitigate these issues and ensure that you import high-quality finished goods.
Having a good understanding of the options available to you is the first step, and this article has discussed five types of product inspections you need to be aware of as an importer.
However, it is essential to note that there is no ‘one size fits all’ regarding quality inspections. The quality control method you use will depend on the product you are importing, set regulations in the industry, customer preferences, and other factors. You may also find it necessary to combine two or more inspections to achieve your quality goals.
If you would like to learn more about product inspections, download our free guide to Third-Party Quality Inspections here.
Free Download: Your Guide to Third-Party Inspections
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Note: This article was originally published in June 2019 and was updated in August 2021