This week I was on a trade show in Hong Kong. I met with many new (inexperienced) buyers. Several of them asked me “So, when do you check quality? When the factory is loading the container?”
A container loading inspection is useful for ensuring that the right products are shipped in the right quantity, and that the container is acceptable.
If you send a third-party inspector in the factory during the loading, he cannot stop it. So finding quality issues at that time is useless.
The inspector has no authority to force the factory or the forwarder to cancel the shipment. And, even if he managed to pass a message to the buyer, the situation is generally too complex to take a decision right away. Better wait for a full report.
That’s why a final inspection is indispensable in 95% of cases. We can take samples at random, out of the total ordered quantity, and we can test them fully.
A final inspection should take place at least 2 days before the ex-factory date. This way, the buyer has the time to receive the inspection report and to communicate with the supplier. It is very frequent to ask for small corrections, for example on product labeling, before authorizing shipment.
It is even better if this inspection is scheduled 10 days before the closing date. This way, there is time to take in-depth corrective actions if major issues are noticed by the inspector. However, in practice, it is often difficult to force the manufacturer to respect this timing.
- If you really do not trust your supplier, do a final inspection AND a loading supervision.
- There are many ways we can prevent the factory to swap the goods after an inspection. None is 100% effective, but they help.