This is Why You Need to Clearly Define Your Product Specifications

by | Feb 3, 2018 | Product Inspections, Quality Control

The cost of scrapping and reworking products that don’t meet your requirements (product specifications) can hurt your business.

We’ve seen instances where companies wasted thousands of dollars scrapping or reworking products after receiving a shipment from their factory. This set them back time-wise in addition to increasing their costs.

It’s an outcome that’s far too common, but it’s one that you can hedge against by proactively taking the right steps.

One important step that you should always take is to create a clear product specification sheet.

We’ve seen too many customers place their first order without having any kind of product documentation at all. Sure, they’d had discussions with their factory by email, but there was no official summary. When things didn’t turn out the way they expected, they blamed the factory.

While it’s natural to blame the factory, you have to consider whether your communication with them is clear enough.

Providing adequate documentation makes it more likely that you will get what you want. This is true regardless of which factory you decide to work with. It’s also true even if you have a third-party company inspect your shipment.

So let’s talk about what should be in your product specs, because It’s vital that you include them as part of, or as an addendum to, every purchase order.

What Do You Need to Have in Your Product Specifications?

Don’t get caught up thinking you need a complicated template to outline product specifications. Your specifications can be as simple as a Word document with a listing of product information.

Let’s say for example that you’re making plastic cups.

You need to include the volume, size, and shape. A cup that’s tall and narrow can have the same volume as one that’s short and wide. So, if you are making a 16-ounce cup, you need to specify all relevant dimensions.

You also need to list the material it’s made out of. Is it made out of plastic resin or glass? Is it ceramic? Defining the exact material is important in your documentation.

You should include information about any printing that needs to be on the cup, or color specific information. Keep in mind that if you look at two cups, one glass and one plastic, there will be color variances. Two white cups will appear to be in different shades because of the material. Also keep in mind that you should be specifying a Pantone color, as this is the industry standard.

Let’s imagine now that you’re making a cabinet with two drawers.

You should specify what type of wood the cabinets are made out of. You should also make it clear what type of handles they should have. What type of metal or other material are they made of? Are they curved or are they straight? Do they have any specific decoration on them? Do your cabinets have a two-pronged latch?

So, in essence, it’s important that you describe every detail of your product in your spec sheet. Include details such as:

  • Volume
  • Size
  • Shape
  • Measurements
  • Components
  • Materials
  • Colors
  • Printing Details

In addition, it is important that you have an approval sample.

Having detailed specifications plus an approval sample makes your requirements very clear for the manufacturer and your inspection service provider. The clearer you are, the less likely you are to end up with unnecessary scrap or rework costs.

It’s not only initial specifications you must consider, there may be times when you wish to make changes to your product design. When this happens it’s important that you update your specifications accordingly. Let’s talk about what you should and shouldn’t do when updating your product design.

Do Not Make This Mistake When You Have Design Changes

When you make changes to your design, it is vital that they are properly documented before the purchase order. We’ve seen far too many companies add unnecessary costs by making changes during production.

Think about it this way.

If you were in the middle of building a house and you wanted to add a new door where there wasn’t one, there would be significant costs associated with that. Everything has to be reworked, wasting labor and materials.

The same is true in manufacturing.

If you’re making a backpack and you want to make a change to the material you’re using, the factory has to go back and buy more material. If you want to add a new strap, it’s going to be difficult to change.

The fact of the matter is, you should never be making changes mid-production. Update your product specs before your next purchase order. Then be sure to include your new product specs along with the order.

Remember to Define Your Product Specs Clearly and to Always Notify Your Factory of Changes

It is vital that you include documented product specifications along with every purchase order. These specifications could be in something as simple as a word doc, but they should be defined in as much detail as possible.

Also, remember that you should never make design changes during production. All design changes should be communicated before production and included in your specifications for the purchase order.

Doing these things will help ensure that you minimize costs associated with scrapping and reworking products, and they’ll help you keep your business running smoothly.

Download Your Free Price vs. Quality Guide

Importing goods from overseas makes sense for most importers due to the low costs of production. However, this wouldn’t matter much if, after 30 days, you received low-quality goods that you couldn’t sell to your customers.

It is essential to take all the necessary steps to balance price and quality. Our free Price vs. Quality Guide gives deeper insight into how to navigate these waters as you import goods from low-cost countries.

Thanks for reading! Do you have any questions about the article? Is there something else you’d like to add? Leave a comment below.

Andy Church

Founder & CEO, Insight Quality Services


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