This post is about re-inspections following a rejection for quality issues. Not about second inspections that are booked because the first inspection was impossible to carry out (e.g. because a last-minute problem delayed all production, and nothing could be checked).
Sometimes re-inspections show the same results as first inspections, suggesting that no corrections were performed. Why? It can come from both sides:
How to avoid such situations? I usually advise my clients to follow a few steps:Sending guidelines to the supplier
Some importers ask for a re-inspection but do not wonder what it implies in the factory. When a shipment is rejected, they simply tell their supplier to “repair the products and set a re-inspection date”. But this is not enough. If you are a buyer in this situation, what should you do?
First, ask yourself “can they really repair these issues?” If so, ask them to do it. If not, there are basically three options:
Second, list the steps that should be followed by the manufacturer. Below is an example, based on an email I sent to a supplier recently:
The shipment is refused, because of [XYZ problem reported by the inspector]. Please confirm your understanding.
Please tell the factory to follow this procedure:
This way, an importer can easily spot some red flags, even from 10,000 miles away. If the proportion of defective products is 20% on the 1st inspection report but only 3% according to the supplier’s sorting job, obviously there is a problem!! In such a situation, the only sensible thing to do is to send somebody in the factory to show them physically what is acceptable and what is not…
If a trading company is involved in the transaction, the importer should not hesitate to ask them for their internal QC reports. In most cases, with local trading companies, inspections (when they do take place) are very “light” and unreliable. But it can get better with pressure from the buyer and the perspective of an independent inspection coming up soon.
A buyer is also advised to systematically ask for a corrective action plan whenever re-work is necessary.Changes in inspection scope
During a re-inspection, the inspector should not proceed like the first time.
Some changes are obvious:
But then, should the checkpoints be the same? I don’t think so.
Let’s take an example: all is fine except for the weight of the saucepans (the issue: 50% of samples are found below the 5% tolerance). During the re-inspection the inspector does not need to check colors or shipping marks with the same attention–he should spend at least 60% of his time weighing randomly-selected samples.
All the QC firm needs to do is ask the importer to confirm what points are fine and don’t need to be re-checked. Unfortunately, some inspection providers don’t do it systematically, simply because of a lack of follow-up. What they do is follow the flow: they let the buyer communicate (or not) with the supplier, and they just set a date and send an inspector with the same checklist as the first time. If there is a need for a third inspection because the second one was useless, it’s good for them (more fees to get paid)…
I observed this phenomenon in particular with inspection companies that ask their clients to book inspections online. The client is only asked to click on “re-inspect”, and the checklist sent to the inspector is exactly similar. Without adequate hand-holding from the QC firm, there can be three perverse effects:
Sending an inspector just before shipment is a little late. At that point, getting rid of non-conformities causes a lot of trouble in the factory, and some unexpected delays for the buyer. But there is a better way.
Sending an inspector during production is usually enough to catch issues early. In this case, the buyer has time to ask for corrective issues, and avoids last-minute surprises. In-process inspections are a powerful tool that can avoid both quality problems and shipment delays.