3rd-party quality control, or QC, is vital to maintaining standards in any industry, but especially so in the China sourcing industry. However, many buyers fail to realize that 3rd-party QC is only as strong as the people performing it and the processes they follow. Use these tips to make sure your 3rd-party QC agents are up to snuff and can help you avoid quality control pitfalls in China.
Define Your Product Requirements
Be clear on how you want your product to end up and be specific on all the metrics. It’s not just about quality of raw materials, but also what that means for finished products: Is it meant to last 5 years, or is it disposable after a few months?
It’s important to make sure you have a clear vision of what you want before approaching any factories. For example, are you looking for someone who can create a prototype quickly and cheaply so you can get feedback from potential customers, or do you need high volume production with a tight turnaround time?
Defining these requirements will help you find the right QC partner. You should also research their past work as well as industry reviews. There are plenty of 3rd-party QC companies out there; use them if needed to ensure quality control standards are met.
Understand Your 3rd-Party QC Companies
It is important to have a clear understanding of the quality control process and what type of 3rd-party QC company you are hiring. Use the following questions when interviewing your potential vendors:
1) What is your quality control process?
2) Who performs the inspections?
3) Where are these inspections performed at?
4) What type of inspection do you perform (i.e. 100% inspection)?
5) What experience do you have with this particular product line or industry segment?
It’s always better to get everything straightened out upfront, which is also another effective way to maintain a good relationship with your 3rd-party QC company. After all, they will be working with your products on a day-to-day basis so it’s important that they feel comfortable knowing exactly what their role entails and that they know how you want them to do their job and that you are comfortable with how they do it!
Make Your Communication Simple But On-Point
Although most of the QC inspectors in China can speak English fluently, it is still better to make your language plain and simple. After all, there are still some inevitable cultural barriers. Make sure you clearly communicate what you want and provide detailed instructions on how you want them to do it.
Be clear about what mistakes or problems you want them to look for or find out. A specific set of specifications may be necessary if it’s your first time working with this factory.
Maintain communication with them. Email is not as common of a messaging tool in China as in the west. WeChat is the most widely-used IM app there.
Develop Your QC System
There are three major factors that should be considered into the process of developing your own QC system, which will benefit you in the long run of your business.
1. Know what you’re looking for
Make sure that the standards you’re looking for are spelled out and that your vendor is on board with them, too. This will help prevent any miscommunication down the line.
2. Create a checklist for your quality control process
Make sure you’re including every step of the process so there are no surprises when it’s time to pass inspection.
3. Choose an inspector that knows your need
Someone who can provide the kind of feedback that you need on your product, such as if it should be rejected or not, or if it needs more work before it’s ready to move on to the next step in production or shipping.
Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to keep your quality control on track. Don’t be discouraged by problems if they arise! They can be obstacles for any growing business, and most of all, don’t forget about checking a second opinion. It can help you take necessary precautions and avoid future errors altogether.
Evaluate the Results
Your QC process is not over yet although after mass production. You should always evaluate the results of your quality control process by sampling your goods. You can do this by taking a sample of every 100th unit or randomly selecting every 100th unit, counting the number of errors, and using these figures to calculate a rate of defects per hundred (called defects per hundred).
The defects per hundred tells you how many defects there are in 100 pieces of a certain product. If your defect rate is high, it means that you need more time for corrective measures and new quality control procedures before starting the next round of production.
When evaluating your results, don’t stop at a defect per hundred rate. Look for patterns and reasons for each defect you find.
The next step is to evaluate your quality control process as a whole. If you notice one specific defect occurring frequently, then there is something going wrong in production that needs addressing immediately.
Conversely, if you notice different types of defects occurring often, it could be because there is something wrong with your entire quality control process.
Shield Works is highly experienced in 3rd-party QC with 17 years under the belt. Talk to us today, and know more about how our team can safeguard the production of your product!