Effective third-party inspections require clear communication of expectations and product requirements, establishing purchase orders with contractual terms, holding suppliers accountable, conducting inspections at different production stages, and addressing any issues found.
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There are several reasons why an inspection may not be giving you the results you want:
- It is possible that inspection is revealing issues too late in the production process for them to be rectified.
- Your third-party inspector may use different criteria to evaluate the quality of your goods.
- Or the firm may not be rectifying any flaws discovered during the inspection.
Well, there are a number of concrete steps you can take to make third-party inspection work.
Specify Expectations and Product Requirements Clearly
One of the most common mistakes importers make is waiting longer than they need to before telling the supplier exactly what they want.
You might forget to tell your supplier that the imported watches must have a Swiss movement, for example. By the time you contact the supplier, the manufacturer has already placed an order for locally sourced parts.
In a worst-case scenario, the factory may have already finished making the items and put them in boxes before you told them you needed a certain part.
Purchase orders and contractual terms
One of the first things you should do when working with a supplier is to explain what you want and how the product should work. This should happen a long time before the inspection and even before the purchase order is made.
However, expectations such as product requirements remain essential components of an efficient purchase order.
Even better, if you can have your supplier sign a purchase agreement before placing the order, you can address the need for third-party inspection, shipping deadlines, and any penalties you may charge if criteria are not satisfied.
When it comes to stating expectations, the more specific you can be, the better.
Keeping the vendor accountable
Before putting down a deposit on an order, it is important to come to an agreement with the supplier. This will help you avoid a lot of the common problems that come up during production.
Later in the process, it is easier to hold your provider accountable if you can point to contracts and other documents in which criteria were specifically defined.
However, a discussion on accountability would be incomplete without discussing the difficulty of holding your provider legally accountable.
For the majority of importers, written agreements in some nations, particularly China, should be viewed as recommendations rather than legally enforceable contracts.
Depending on where you manufacture and the amount of the order, taking legal action against a supplier may not be worthwhile.
It is suggested that you contact a local attorney to prepare a contract in the local language if there is a possibility that you may need to sue a provider for breach of contract.
Perform Product Inspection
This second step may appear to be a no-brainer at first glance. For a third-party inspection to be successful, a third party must be hired to visit the plant and check the items.
But as an importer, there are a few things you should think about when setting up a product inspection.
When will the inspection occur?
For the majority of items, the inspection can occur at a variety of production phases. Additionally, there are advantages to examining both early and late in the process.
For instance, if you are producing banquet chairs with upholstered seats, you may want to conduct inspections prior to the upholstering step to check for dimensions, structural integrity, epoxy binding, and other factors.
In contrast, if you are producing acrylic sinks, you may be more concerned with inspecting the completed product and choose to do an inspection prior to packaging. If you find problems during the first inspection, you can easily look at them again later or at different stages. Obviously, your inspection schedule will frequently be influenced by your budget.
What is your inspection budget?
It is true that the scope of the examination will be partly constrained by the amount of money you are ready and able to spend. Nevertheless, there are a lot of options to adjust the inspection process to match your budget.
Importers can reduce inspection expenses, for instance, by combining and checking identical commodities together. Reducing the size of the inspection sample is another method for reducing costs.
And by using a local inspector, importers can save on travel expenses required while traveling to the manufacturer. A smaller budget should not prevent you from achieving third-party inspection success.
What is your quality defect tolerance?
At least at first, it seems like many importers don’t pay attention to the tolerance for quality flaws as a part of product inspection. How many quality flaws are allowed in a shipment of finished goods?
After careful consideration, you will most likely conclude that the number of acceptable flaws is proportional to the order quantity. You would be correct.
Acceptable quality limits (AQL) were made by the quality control industry as a way to figure out how many pieces from a random sample of items need to be checked. AQL gives you options for how many “critical,” “major,” and “minor” flaws you can have per sample size.
You still have a choice of inspection AQL settings, but unless you tell them otherwise, your third-party inspector may use their own suggested levels. If you think the first inspection was too strict or too easy, you can ask the inspector to change the AQL so that it matches your tolerance for flaws.
Address Issues With Your Supplier
It is difficult to achieve success through third-party examination if you have excessive expectations. One of the many myths about quality control is that it is up to the third-party inspector to fix or replace any broken items found during the product inspection.
The fact is that product inspection is a tool used to find and report on quality flaws, other product concerns, and the progress of an order. That is all.
Product inspection normally does not
- identify the precise processes involved or sources of certain faults.
- Provide corrective/preventative steps or other solutions for quality concerns detected, or
- Demand that the factory repairs faulty merchandise or send the items on the schedule.
If an inspection report says there are too many broken items, you must let the supplier know. Request that they rework or replace the faulty products. Some factories will fix problems even if you don’t say anything, while others won’t notice if you don’t say anything.
Discussing how flaws will be corrected
You may also choose to explain how the factory intends to resolve the issue. For example, if most of the problems reported are caused by flash, which can happen during the molding process, the company may have to cut off the extra material by hand. And this additional handling might result in the introduction of new flaws. Therefore, you should examine the technique before requesting a rework.
Charging the supplier for inferior products
If it appears that the factory is not revising damaged items, you may choose to charge the supplier for the unsold goods. Every order should have some broken items, but only in a reasonable number, which is something that AQL takes into account.
Your ability to make the supplier pay for a bad product will depend on things like how well you know the supplier and how much your purchase order is worth. If a supplier doesn’t like doing business with you, you probably won’t be able to change their mind by telling them you’ll charge them for giving you bad products.
Reinspect to Confirm Repairs
This last step is important if you want to be sure that all of the problems that were found earlier in the inspection have been fixed. If a previous inspection resulted in a passing grade, this step may be unnecessary.
In addition to current criteria, auditors are often given a copy of the most recent report to use as a reference when inspecting the product. During a re-inspection, a random sample of brand-new items will be chosen for inspection. A re-inspection will inform you of any remedial steps taken by the manufacturer to ensure that your order is ready for shipment.
In conclusion, effective third-party inspection requires clear communication of expectations and product requirements, purchase agreements, and accountability measures.
It is also important to perform product inspections at appropriate stages, taking into account budget and quality defect tolerance. Finally, addressing issues with the supplier requires realistic expectations and proactive communication. By following these steps, you can improve product quality and achieve success through third-party inspection.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect WorldRef’s views, opinions or policies.
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