Can You Rely on Your Factory for Quality Control?

by | Jun 8, 2018 | Product Inspections, Quality Control

Ensuring the quality of your products is important.

Take this story into account…

Recently, a company that sells school supplies in the US had to recall all of their extra-large crayon sets. The reason?

Laceration hazard.

Let that sink in for a minute. You see, it turns out that many of their red crayons contained glass, which was posing a danger to small children. This is obviously a disaster for the school supply company.

Manufacturing your products in China can be great. There are factories that do good work and produce great quality. But there are also plenty of factories that don’t.

No matter what your product is or which factory you work with, you should seriously consider bringing in a third-party company to inspect your products before shipment.

Sometimes people are hesitant to hire third-party inspection companies. They feel like they can just find a factory that does good quality work and then rely on the factory’s internal quality control. Let’s talk about why.

4 Common Reasons People Choose Not to do Inspections

Here are some things we’ve heard from people that don’t want to invest in third-party inspections.

#1 “My item is low-priced or given away for free”

This is understandable. But, just because something is low priced, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be concerned about quality or safety.

When McDonalds gives away free toys in their Happy Meals, don’t you think they should be concerned about product safety?

If you’re giving away free pens as a premium, shouldn’t you make sure that they actually work?

#2 “I don’t have time for inspections because I’m on a tight turnaround”

The key thing to understand is that inspections are something you plan ahead for.

When you first place your order, you should set a target inspection date. The factory should be aware of your target inspection date. Then you should follow up with them to ensure your products will be ready to inspect at that time.

#3 “I don’t have a big budget to justify inspections”

The problem here is that if you have a small budget, not inspecting can end up costing you even more money down the line.

If your order ships and you find out that a large number of products are defective, it’s going to cost you money to rework them or have the factory remake them.

#4 “My factory doesn’t want outside QC coming in”

If a factory tells you they don’t want outside inspectors coming it, take it as a red flag.

Of course, your factory may have valid concerns. They may require additional manpower to repack things that have been inspected, for example. So, if your factory has concerns, you should make sure they are valid and addressed.

Help them understand that you view both them and the inspection company as valued partners. See if there is a way to work things out. If they don’t budge, you may need to reconsider working with them.

This is How Factories Generally Handle Their Quality Control

Any well-run factory has a whole range of steps they take to ensure quality.

They will generally have a quality control department and a QC manager. This department is in charge of things such as in-process quality inspections, raw material inspections, and pre-shipment inspections.

If the quality manager discovers a major problem while your goods are being produced, they may shut down the production line. Once the issue is fixed, production can resume.

This is great, and you may be thinking that you can just find a factory that does a good job of QC and let that be it. But, a smarter approach is to get the factory to earn your faith in their quality system.

Why You Need to Make Factories Earn Your Trust

The drawback of relying on factory QC is that they work for the same boss as the production department. This means they can potentially be somewhat biased.

Maybe they’ll be let things slide once in a while or consider a serious problem to be “not so bad.”

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to “go with your gut” when determining how good a factory is.

A better approach is to have them earn your trust over time, through hard data. In a recent article, we talked about how to use the inspection data you collect over time to inform your decisions.

As you collect data, what you will hopefully find is that the results from your third-party inspection company mirror the results from the factory’s internal QC team.

If you work with more than one factory, you can use your data to grade factories based on OQL and determine how to best allocate your quality dollars to different factories.

Having aggregate data about the results of every inspection allows you to look at the big picture. It helps you determine, in an objective way, how good a factory really is.

Start doing third-party inspections and let them prove the effectiveness of their quality program over time.

Keep These Points in Mind When Considering Inspections

There are a number of reasons why you might not want to do third-party inspections. But keep in mind that inspections give you added assurance that your products will be shipped to you without any major issues.

Factories generally have their own internal QC team, but relying on them exclusively creates more business risk for you as the buyer.

You should avoid putting trust in a factory because of your “gut feeling.” By doing third-party inspections and collecting hard data, you can determine how good they really are, over time.

Recommended Reading: How to Prepare for a Quality Inspection

Are you thinking of hiring a third-party inspection company? If so, you need to be properly prepared. No one knows your product better than you do. So, make sure you give your service provider the information they need to ensure that your inspections are a success.

Download this free guide to successfully preparing for your product inspections.

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

Andy Church

Founder & CEO, Insight Quality Services


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