How to check many small orders produced at the same time

Quality Control TipsOne of my clients places lots of small orders in China. For example, they would place 15 orders in a factory, for shipment at the same time. Each order is a particular style, and all combined they don’t even fill a 20′ container.

How to inspect this type of shipment?

One solution is to bundle several references together in one inspection. The number of samples selected, in proportion of the total shipment quantity, is pretty small (e.g. 315 samples out of 20,000 pcs to ship). But it is not really workable if the inspector has to spend a lot of time checking the conformity of each reference (e.g. if each reference has a different measurements chart).

An alternative solution is to inspect only a few references. For example, we do 3 inspections  on 3 references, out of 15. In this case, each style is checked in depth. If all references are made in the same workshop, the best option is often to inspect only the most complex products.

There is a risk with the latter solution. If the supplier knows long in advance which references will be checked, they will reserve the best production lines/workers for them. They might even subcontract them in a better factory. So the trick is to tell them there will be inspections, but they should only know which references will be inspected a few days in advance. All they can do is double check the goods and do easy corrections.

Which solution to choose? I would say it depends on too many factors to make good generalizations. Ask your QC manager or your inspection provider for their opinion.


  1. orientix says

    I frequently have same problem. Too many references in smaller quantities. If I follow the AQL system, it costs too much time / days, and delays in shipment. I’m studying actually how to solve this issue.
    A) Reduced number of pcs to check, but all references
    B) Indeed only check few references in depth (Not a good idea if styles have different prints / embroideries / accessories).
    In my opinion you must check all references at all time. But if styles are all more or less similar, but only prints / designs differ, then no need to measure / workmanship-check each style separately. That can be grouped. (If all made in same factory). But all references always must be checked on print/design/embroidery separately.

  2. Renaud Anjoran says

    Hi Orientix,
    I agree with you. It all depends on the type of products and whether they are all made in the same circumstances.
    I am a big proponent of random inspections (to select only a few references), but as early as possible in the production cycle. If there are problems, then go for a broader checking… and if possible charge the supplier for these re-inspections!