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Quality Control in China: Understanding the Quality Inspection Process

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There are a lot of misconceptions and stereotypes around the “Made in China” icon. While the tagline does have a less-than-ideal reputation, poor product quality is rarely the fault of the manufacturer. Rather, poor quality can usually be traced back to a lack of communication or understanding.As an entrepreneur, you know full-well how vital quality is to your business’ profits, growth, and success. If the products you provide your customers with are of a lackluster quality or fail to deliver on expectations, then you have a serious problem.

This is why understanding the quality control process for the products you offer is so important. If you, like many others, are importing products from manufacturers in China, then you’re going to want to be well-acquainted with the ins-and-outs of China’s quality inspection process so you can guarantee that each and every product you receive is of the utmost quality.

Communication is Key

As Paul Sly, the general manager of CSGtech, says in an article by Quality Digest, “The issue of quality governance is magnified by the distance from suppliers.” The farther away you are from your product manufacturer, the harder it can be to ensure a consistent quality control process.

To counteract this, all you have to do is provide your manufacturer with detailed product specifications as early as possible. This includes things like the materials used to create the product, the approved components, dimensions, colors, finish, logo, artwork, and more. Be as specific as possible so you can ensure that your manufacturer knows exactly what it is they’re building and exactly what your expectations are for that product.

On top of this, don’t be afraid to ask your supplier direct questions and take a proactive approach in the quality management process. If you have a concern, express it. If you want to know specifics about a manufacturer’s quality inspections, then ask them about it, and regardless of how convinced you may or may not be by their response, take the initiative and insist on pre-shipment inspections.

A lot of information can be lost or misinterpreted across cultural lines, so always strive to communicate with your manufacturer as often and as specifically as possible. The more information your supplier has, the better the odds are that the products that are shipped to you are of a consistently high-quality.

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What to Look For

If you’re buying from China, then you should be familiar with quality management systems (QMS) like The International Organization for Standardization (ISO). These systems are designed to help both the buyer and the seller, as it helps ensure that the buyer gets what they’ve paid for and helps the seller deliver on their promise and facilitate a healthy business relationship.

A good QMS should cover:

  • Record keeping

  • Employee responsibilities

  • How continuity is preserved during staff changes

  • The procedure used managing employees and conducting business

  • Detailed objectives, like keeping defects below a certain percent

  • And more

With all that said, ISO certification does not always guarantee that your product will have the quality you’re looking for. ISO is designed to confirm that the processes that make the product are documented and executed in a quality manner, and won’t always address the actual quality of the product.

One way to address this is by using a product specification sheet, which is a highly detailed document that clearly labels and outline your product specifications. This sheet should usually fit on 1-2 pages, and is meant to help your suppliers produce the kind of quality you’re asking for.

It never hurts to be specific, and as long as you’re organized and concise, then a detailed product specification sheet can be an invaluable tool in helping the Chinese manufacturers you work with deliver the best products possible.

Doing Your Part

In the end, facilitating the quality control of your products is part of your job. While there are plenty of ways to get high-quality products that are “Made in China,” if you want to go the extra mile, then you can even do the product inspections yourself. This isn’t unheard of amongst importers and exporters, as it does allow you as the entrepreneur to see your product’s quality first-hand.

However, just because your familiar with your product doesn’t mean you’re entirely qualified to inspect it. Here at Guided Imports, we can help you do this by reviewing your specification sheet, offering suggestions for improvement, or even do the quality checks on your behalf. We've teamed up with some of the very best inspectors China has to offer and can provide you with the following four types of inspections that you can make use of as needed:

  • Pre-Production: Carried out before production starts.

  • During Production Check: Takes place when approximately 50% of goods are completed and packed.

  • Pre-Shipment Inspection: Occurs when 100% of the production is completed, and 80% of the goods have been packaged.

  • Container Loading Check: Takes place once production is complete and the goods have been packed and loaded into containers.

Ensuring quality control is always of the utmost importance, and when you take the time to do the right inspections at the right time or even hire a professional inspector to help—like the ones at Guided Imports—then you can guarantee that each and every one of your products is of the utmost quality.

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