QC inspections don’t ensure quality. They only expose lack of quality. Which is good if you didn’t oversee production and you are about to ship. But it is not sufficient.
Inspecting a production run gives you some information, which can (and should) be used. If you find that the goods can’t be sold, you should find an immediate solution (sorting/rework/reproduction/cancellation) with your supplier.
But some other conclusions can be reached, for longer term improvements.
- If you find some issues that come from a product design mistake, you should take the appropriate corrective measures on your side.
- If the goods are not conform to your requirements, it might mean the factory’s quality system has holes. Improving their quality system can be a long and arduous route, but it can also be the most beneficial in the long run:
- Audit the quality system to find these holes
- Write a procedure to cover these holes
- Train the workers to follow the procedure
- Audit the workers to verify whether they follow the procedure
What kind of factory can accept this type of involvement from the buyer? In China, not many. If you find a 100-operators manufacturer and if your orders represent half their annual capacity, it might be applicable. Especially if the owner is relatively open-minded, and very motivated.
Once you get a factory up to a higher standard, it can be very gratifying, but it might only last for 2-3 years. They might double in size every year, and reach a point where your orders don’t mean much to them any more…
Unfortunately, it is a continuous cycle. Find a promising factory, invest time and energy into them, see the progress they make, reap the fruits from that cooperation, and then start over with another one.
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If you are developing and manufacturing new products and want to set up a reliable supply chain, implementing a QA program makes a lot of sense. We can help you do this at my company Sofeast. Take a look at what a QA program is and get a quote.
Willem Minderhoud says
If the lack of quality is exposed, the QA system has failed.
To close the holes in the QA system (read written procedures) can not been solved by another written procedure.
It won’t help the final quality because in China the procedures are mostly not followed. Of course, the customer and the manufacturer agreed to follow but the reality is different. That’s China, it takes at least another generation.
As a customer, QC is the only tool you have to be sure about the real quality.
However most QC inspectors are not experienced and less aware.
That’s the next problem.
QA is a written dream. QC shows the reality.
Renaud Anjoran says
You are right, very often procedures are not followed. That’s why I wrote “Train the workers to follow the procedure” and “Audit the workers to verify whether they follow the procedure”.
But I disagree when you write “That’s China, it takes at least another generation”. Some manufacturers have achieved a pretty stable situation in their workshop, and believe me the procedures are followed. Maybe you have never been in these factories (generally pretty large), but they exist.
You might want to read http://www.qualityinspection.org/chinese-disorganized.
Yes, I have been there.
In “”general”” the procedures will be short cutted.
At least after your depart. More quantity is more money.
It will take a while to change peoples mentality.
Renaud Anjoran says
If they have to keep precise records and if you audit them, it will be hard for them to take shortcuts.
What you probably mean is that the owner’s and the managers’ mentality has to change, and I agree entirely.