We prepared a video to explain the very basic steps (defining product specifications in the form of a checklist, doing sample reviews, and sending an inspector to the factory) every importer should take before and during production.
Without following these steps, I believe many buyers actually generate quality issues. What I mean is, they keep the supplier in the dark about certain aspects of their requirements, and they don’t ‘force’ some communication through organized reviews and feedback. That’s quite dangerous in China.
Here is the video on Youtube.
(It gets a bit sales-y after the 8:15” mark.)
And here is the transcript of the video.
Welcome to this video where we will be explaining what the magic three is and how it can benefit you in your Chinese based projects
We will be going over the three elements that make up the magic triangle, Product Specification, Sample and Product Review & Factory Inspection, and what each of these elements consists of.
A quality specification sheet should translate into a buyer decision for poor quality when receiving sample goods for review on tangible and measureable pre-set criteria.
In other words, a poor product specification sheet generally results in poor products produced, whereas a good product specification sheet results in good products being produced.
So without further adue, let’s jump straight into the first element – Product Specification
Product Specification Sheet
Before you confirm an order to a Chinese supplier, you need to explain what you want. The best way to do that is with a good specification sheet which should include at least the following elements, but not limited to:
- How the product needs to be checked, and what is expected
- How the product should be labelled and packed
- What the tolerances are on measurements
- What the potential defects are and how to classify them
How the product needs to be checked, and what is expected
Here is an extract from a product specification that shows a checklist with specific requirements and a sampling rate.
How the product should be labelled and packed
When it comes to labelling, one aspect to take into consideration is the legal requirements for selling your product in the countries you are targeting. These legal requirements may include getting your product tested and certified to show they meet the specific standards required.
We can help you with this aspect and co-ordinate everything with the supplier and test house
As for packing, you need to consider the following:
- Function of the packaging
- Strength (what does it need to protect?)
- Fitness for purpose
- Safety regulations
What the tolerances are on measurements
You really need to understand what tolerances you require on each dimension of your product design, this will not only ensure your product fits together but it will also help optimise the price.
The tighter the tolerances you specify, the higher price required to achieve those tight tolerances.
This chart shows the relationship between tolerance and cost.
What the potential defects are and how to classify them
It is critically important that you identify potential defects within your product design and in each of the parts.
All the defects should be classified, for example:
- Defect – Porosity in a casting
- Classification –3 or less holes of DIA >0.02” per sq” is acceptable, more than that qty or size, the part is rejected
- Here is an example of defects and their classification from an example specification sheet
Side Note: OEM Agreement
Your product specification sheet should be agreed with and approved by your supplier, that way, you know they have ‘bought into’ the product specifications.
This document can be the basis for an OEM agreement, which should be an appendix to the actual agreement. This way, if the supplier doesn’t respect your quality standard you can put pressure on them.
SAMPLE ELEMENT OF THE MAGIC TRIANGLE
This section is broken down into two distinct sections, Pre-production and Production. Let’s start with the pre-production samples.
As part of the development stage, your supplier will produce sample for approval. These would be manufactured to the specifications you provided, which would have included your product specification sheet, so you can now see how important that document is.
Sample Check & Test
Once the samples are available, they need to be thoroughly tested and methodically checked to ensure they meet the specification.
It is important to use the spec sheet as a checklist while checking and testing these samples.
One crucial step here is to identify any potential defects that are not already listed in the product specification sheet. Making sure this is updated and re-issued to the supplier.
Local Sample Testing
Getting products tested locally in China has huge advantages:
- No time delay due to shipping
- Dedicated testing facilities
- Instant feedback to you and the supplier
- Follow up meetings with the supplier can be arranged at very short notice
All production parts would be produced to the very latest specification and standards you provided.
It is best practice to get samples as early as possible from the production run so that you can check these samples to ensure product is being produced correctly to the right level of quality.
One way to achieve this is to have samples checked in our local office where we can check against your product specification sheet and test the product as required.
Any issues can be reported back to the supplier and a corrective action plan can generated to solve issues found.
Prior to production you should have received at least one sample that met all the criteria within the spec sheet, this would in effect be your approval sample, a sample that can be used to cross reference and check against.
An even better situation would be to have failure threshold samples that could demonstrate upper and lower limits for certain CTQ features or characteristics, for example:
- Paint finish color variations
- Stitching quality
- Weight limits
INSPECTION ELEMENT OF THE MAGIC TRIANGLE
INSPECTION IN THE FACTORY
If you let a Chinese supplier ship the goods to you and you discover they are not acceptable after delivery, it is way too late to do anything. There is virtually no way of sending the goods back to China for rework.
This is a very serious situation to find yourself in and a situation that can be avoided very easily. Get your products inspected before shipment!
When to Inspect Products
There are a number of logical times throughout the production process to inspection products, the most common two are ‘During Production Inspect’ and ‘After Production Inspection’
DPI allows you to catch issues, if any, as early as possible in the manufacturing process. This way you can request corrective actions and go back to check a few days later. It is much easier to make “adjustments” before all the goods are completed and packed.
After Production inspection allows you to check criteria such as the packing & labelling, and the average quality by picking samples at random and see what average quality is like.
A passed inspection, at this point, means the supplier can ship your products.
As you can now see, there is a direct correlation between how good your product specification sheet is and the quality of goods produced by your supplier. With a fully detailed and comprehensive spec sheet there is little room for discussions when it comes to issues found. In cases where serious issues are found, the supplier won’t have many excuses and you won’t spend hours arguing with them.
If issues are found that can be re-work or have product replaced, you should get the supplier to complete this before final payment is made.
Here is what the rework cycle looks like.
This entire process is one of our speciality services and one that we can help you within its entirety.
Sofeast has helped hundreds of companies worldwide save time and effort throughout the production process by generating a detailed product specification sheet, reviewing, testing, and analysing samples and then inspecting products in the factory ensuing everything is approved before shipping.
This has resulted in savings of hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars for clients.
Ensuring product is acceptable to be sent by following the steps within the Magic Three provides piece of mind that everything goes as smoothly as possible.
These three simple steps that create the magic triangle are so critical to the success of any project, failure to get any of these steps right and you will certainly fail in your product.
The simple fact that we have extensive knowledge and experience in this process makes it a no brainer to work with Sofeast and to know you are in good hands throughout this process.
For more information about the magic three and how to work with us, click the link or simply visit us at www.sofeast.com