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Training of in-house inspectors in China: too often neglected

By Renaud Anjoran in 'Quality Inspection Blog'

This summer, we helped an importer understand why their in-house inspectors were regularly failing to signal quality problems. The purchasing manager was suspecting complacency, not to mention bribes.

I sent one of my best inspectors to follow their QC staff in factories, for a few days. What they needed was a lot of training, and probably some extra supervision. They were doing all the basics wrong:

  • They checked way too many samples per day. To hit their numbers, they were rushing and missing lots of issues.
  • They were selecting a few cartons, and then checking the entire content of these cartons, without following any statistical rule.
  • Certain aspects of the shipments were simply skipped: no close look at the packing materials, no systematic verification of labeling, etc.
  • Different inspectors were performing tests in different ways.
  • Some inspectors were not capable of explaining why some defects were major and others only minor.

Not surprisingly, this lack of training and supervision had an impact on the importer’s bottom line. Some shipments were rejected upon arrival in the US because the retailers were finding widespread problems.

When I go to factories, I often see QC staff employed by local buying offices. Sometimes we share an inspection room. Half of them lack professionalism in a big way, and it can be shocking.

It is a very common situation, and there is not easy solution. How to get these inspectors to be less sloppy? Good luck with that…

Why in-house inspectors’ standards are so low

Let’s say a mid-size importing business sets up a China office, and hires a local manager. He will have a tendency to look for savings, and to hire inspectors who can’t speak English (which means they can’t have had an experience in a professional inspection firm).

There is usually no clear procedure and no strict supervision, so the situation gets worse and worse over time. They all acquire bad habits–not only in their work, but also in their behavior (see my previous post about the corruption of quality inspectors).



Renaud Anjoran is the founder of Sofeast Quality Control and helps importers to improve and secure their product quality in China. He writes advice for importers on the Quality Inspection blog. He lives full time in Shenzhen, China. You can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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