Continued success breeds complacency. In order to have sustained success in manufacturing goods, it is important to recognize this reaction and make safeguards against it. Complacency is combated by vigilance, and vigilance in the world of manufacturing goods manifests as continuing to inspect products produced by your suppliers—even when you have a long history together and there have never been any inspection failures.
The first reason to continue inspections (either on a random or periodic basis) is that just like anyone else, suppliers are prone to complacency. While they may begin by meeting your requirements perfectly, systems have a tendency tend to erode over time without upkeep. This erosion can lead to failures or inconsistencies. These issues may seem so small as to be inconsequential, but if left unchecked they can grow into serious, dollar-wasting dilemmas. By insisting on continued inspections, and by conducting those inspections rigorously, you can insure that the internal quality control at the supplier keeps from falling asleep at the wheel.
An additional reason to continue inspections is staff turnover. While those who were there for the first round of production for your product may understand your needs and requirements, that level of understanding is bound to decay to some extent as staff members come and go. Effective management and internal QC by your suppliers should serve to mitigate this issue, but at the end of the day it is all but inevitable that some details will not be passed from old staff to new staff. Continuing inspections can help to ensure that small issues are noticed and addressed before they have an opportunity to snowball into something larger.
A third reason to consider continuing inspections is that factories will occasionally change their raw material suppliers. Changing the suppliers can signal a change in the quality of the raw materials, or it could cause uncertainty in the supply pipeline while your factory is making the transition. This can create a ripple effect that ultimately changes the overall quality of your products, and as such it should be carefully monitored.
An extended relationship with a single factory with no failures in production is good news for your company. It means that you can spend fewer dollars on inspections of that factory, and still expect consistent quality in finished products. We believe that after a relationship has been established and trust has been built, it may no longer be necessary to inspect 100% of the products leaving a factory. But that decision should be based on careful thought and data. A factory with no failures, or with a very high pass rate of inspections, presents less risk to your brand than one with a less-than-sterling reputation, and that should be considered when creating an inspection schedule.
In order to protect your investment, and your brand, it is prudent to continue inspections on factories producing your goods even when they have a perfect record. We at Insight can help you to analyze the data, assess the risk, develop a schedule, and conduct inspections to ensure that your money is being spent effectively.