A sourcing agent working out of Shenzhen recently asked me for some advice. He just moved to China and he is going to do his first QC inspections for one of his clients.
Going through all the details and all the possible situations would be too long. But a lot of valuable tips have been published, on this blog and elsewhere, that can help him get a bit more professional. So here is what I can advise my reader to do:
An overview of terms and conditions
I already listed some of the conditions to set straight before inspection starts.
Most inspection companies also add a note, at the end of their reports, about the limits of inspection findings. Here is an example:
This report reflects our findings at time and place of inspection. This report does not relieve suppliers from their contractual liabilities or prejudice buyers’ right for compensation for any apparent and/or hidden defects not detected during our random inspection or occurring thereafter.
Finally, you should make it clear (to your client) that your responsibility may not be engaged in case the products are found to be unsellable upon arrival. At the very least, there should be a put a cap on that responsibility.
Preparing the QC checklist
I don’t have much to add to Andrew’s excellent article: How To Create A Product QC Checklist.
Red it carefully, ask questions to the importer (who hopefully knows what he wants in details) and to the supplier (who should be able to offer precise specs, and maybe reports of past inspections focusing on the same products).
A professional inspector, with experience in the products to check, is at least twice as effective at finding quality issues than someone with no such experience. He is also at least twice as fast at his job. But a good list of checkpoints helps tremendously.
Using a conformity sample
Using a sample to assess conformity of production makes everything easier. You’ll have to ask the buyer for a sample, if possible… You will be in one of the below solutions (listed from the safest to the riskiest):
Calculating a sampling plan
It should help you decide how many samples to check and how many defects is the maximum. It is important to use the statistics that everybody uses in the QC industry, because it is unlikely that a supplier will criticize their usage.
Important: be realistic about how many samples you can check in a day of working in a Chinese factory. Especially if you try to fit two inspections (or different products) into one day.
Communication and accountability
Take lots of photos. Count the defects and show the discrepancies in front of a factory manager, and have him sign a handwritten temporary report.
A very important message to get to the supplier is that shipment is not authorized yet, whatever the result of this inspection. Only an email from their customer will fill that purpose. The best is to write this clearly on the handwritten report that they sign.
I tried to list the most important things… Did I forget something crucial?