Many importers don’t fully understand the reports they get from inspection companies. The concepts are not really complex, but one needs a little guidance to grasp them correctly. That’s why I write articles such as Quality Control Basics.
Now, what about Chinese suppliers? It is usually no better. They have heard the terms, but they often don’t know their meaning. Even the so-called quality managers in the factories have a very rough understanding of QC concepts.
Actually I think I can safely extend this to most Asian suppliers. Last year I was browsing the website of an Indian manufacturer, when I came across this: “AQL: min 2.5%, max 4.0%”. Pretty funny… They boasted that defects are always present in at least a certain proportion.
So, what is the problem? Buyers usually tell their suppliers about the inspection level and the AQL limits they have chosen. But is this enough? I don’t think so.
Let’s do a quick comparison. First, what a supplier is usually said sounds like this:
We’ll also check each requirement regarding the product characteristics and the packaging.
Can the factory do a simulation in advance? Not if they are not familiar with AQL tables.
Does the factory know exactly what “product characteristics” the inspector will check? Usually not, since the buyer usually informs the inspection firm directly about this.
Now, let’s try to make it simple and concrete, as the Heath brothers would say:
He must find:
- Zero dangerous product (critical defect), less than 8 unsellable samples (major defect), AND less than 11 minor defects.
- Products should all be white, 30cmx20cmx15cm, conform to reference sample, in a printed gift box… (here goes the list of specs).
- The barcodes of 5 random samples should read the correct SKU.
- The printing should resist perfectly when 3M tape is pasted and then pulled strongly.
If one or more of these requirements is not met, the inspection is failed. Then we will get in touch and communicate about the next step.
Can the factory do a simulation in advance? Sure.
Does the factory know exactly what “product characteristics” the inspector will check? Yep.
Getting your suppliers to understand and accept your quality standard can take time. But, too often, the process is considerably slowed down by poor communication.
Remember, be simple and concrete. Many of the people you communicate with had no formal education in quality management or operations. Don’t throw conceptual words at them.