If you are sourcing product from Asia, it’s likely that you dread that time of the year when the Chinese New Year (“CNY”) comes around. Why would one not look forward to a big holiday? If you’re managing quality, CNY will bring you a laundry list of issues, year after year.

In this blog post, we’ll detail the common quality issues that come with CNY and offer tips on how to effectively manage them.

Here is a broad overview of what occurs, manufacturing wise, during this time:

The Chinese New Year creates from 10 days to upwards of a month of silence from an entire country, including suppliers, agents, and other service partners as the country celebrates the lunar new year holiday. Counting on orders shipping from the middle of January through the end of February creates higher risk than normal and the need to plan ahead. During this time, shipping by both vessel and higher is more costly as volume surges and capacity declines.

Production timing is often longer during the Chinese New Year period, especially after the holiday due to the piling up of orders after a month of little manufacturing taking place. Producing goods before the holiday also tends to take longer, as most importers order more in order to stock up.

Because of these factors, quality issues increases more than normal just before and after CNY. Now, we’ll offer a more in-depth breakdown of why these issues occur:

Lax Internal Quality Control

Factories are pressured by buyers to meet production deadlines which often entails excessive overtime, leading to lower quality. This is a dangerous combination, as it often leads to lax internal quality control.

New Workers

Many factory workers will not return to the same factories they worked for before the Chinese New Year holiday. The factory workers in China regularly float across industries, so a number of them will not be fully trained to manufacture the products. This leads to increased quality issues.

Subcontracting

In order to meet the peak demand, many factories subcontract manufacturing to other, often numerous smaller factories. This can cause serious quality problems, as the subcontracted factories typically lack quality assurance systems & processes.

Detected Quality Issues Left Unfixed

Because of the circumstances mentioned above, issues are often detected during the pre-shipment inspection. The time to rework and fix quality issues means delays in shipping, often to well after CNY. When this is the case, the client has to make the decision of either accepting quality issues or being without stock.

In order to be prepared for – and hopefully avoid – these issues, you need to plan ahead for the holiday. This coming year, CNY begins on February 6 with many factories beginning to close as early at the middle of January. When creating a strategy for the peak holiday season, be sure to buffer to allow extra time for production and shipment delays both before and post-CNY.

Allowing quality to fall is not an option for competitive businesses, so have a plan in place and do whatever it takes to remain poised during the most stressful of times. That said, enjoy the holiday season!

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