Importers: I have my own design and worked with factories in China now, should I prepare an inspection checklist for sourcing and quality control? how to create the checklist for product sourcing and inspection?
What’s a Quality Inspection Checklist？
An inspection criteria sheet (ICS) or simply a QC inspection checklist outlines quality requirements and specifications with your products in a way that makes them clear, concise, and user-friendly for your supplier. It’s one of the simplest, yet most effective, ways to prevent defects in your goods.
Why you should create a quality control inspection checklist?
The 2 purposes of a quality control inspection checklist as follow:
- Outlining quality standards and product requirements to the supplier and importer as you expected the shipment to meet and
- Providing objective criteria for inspecting the product to ensure the customer’s expectations are being met.
Before starting the products, you share the detailed checklist with your supplier, which would give the supplier an opportunity to review your requirements and notify you if any are unreasonable or need to be addressed prior to mass production.
A QC checklist like standard inspection procedure (SIP) would likely prevent any issues in the key-chain example used earlier since the QC checklist typically provides dimensional tolerances and specifies measuring methods.
When it comes to checking the goods before shipping, the quality control inspection checklist should serve as the clear standard used for Pre-shipment inspection. The checklist is not only helpful for internal QC staff checking the product but also essential for you or any third-party quality inspector you hire to inspect on your behalf.
And a QC checklist also could, at the very least, helped explain to the manufacturer what assurances are necessary to satisfy requirements-particularly regulatory requirements.
Another less obvious benefit of collaborating with your supplier on developing a quality control inspection checklist is that it can improve your relationship with your supplier. That’s also very important; working with the supplier on a QC checklist shows them you value their feedback.
Additionally, the supplier may be able to suggest ideas to improve product quality that you might not have considered. That’s also might good for saving cost and understanding the manufacturing process.
What’s a quality control inspection checklist included?
Since the QC checklist will need to be easily interpreted by you, your supplier, and any third-party inspector, it needs to be direct and written in a clear format.
It may also be helpful to have the document translated into the supplier’s native language, which you can do relatively easily by asking help from the quality control company, with this in mind, there are several technical areas that should be covered in any effective QC inspection checklist.
This first major section should contain details about the shipper carton, any inner carton, and any retail carton or packaging. Packaging requirements are important for your supplier to reference here, and this section should contain:
- Packing specification,
- Shipping marks,
- Carton materials,
- Packing method,
Product requirements should be also obvious on the Inspection checklist. But many importers tend to overlook what this section should entail.
Product requirements shown in the checklist should include:
- The product weight & dimensions;
- Material & construction;
- Product color (consider including Pantone color codes where applicable); and
- Markings & labeling (e.g. UL or the voltage rating for electronics, hang tags)
Reliability tests and on-site tests
Almost any product inspection should contain some reliability tests and on-site tests, These are very important to include in a QC checklist not only for final inspection but also to inform the supplier of what tests the product and packaging will be expected to pass.
This section should also lay out the procedure for each test or check, the criteria for pass or fail, and any related tolerance. Examples of on-site tests and checks are:
- Barcode scan check (for any items with a barcode);
- Carton drop test (for packaging);
- GSM check (for fabric density);
- Moisture check (for wood items, such as furniture or moldings);
- Crosshatch adhesion test (for enamel-coated cookware items);
- Vulcanization test (for rubber items, especially footwear);
- Function test (applicable for most items); and
- Hi-pot test (for electrical items)
- Integrating sphere test (for some kind of LED lights)
Equipment list for quality inspection needed
Let’s say you’ve told your inspector that they need to conduct a GSM check of fabric used at your supplier’s factory. Without notifying the supplier in your QC checklist, that inspector might arrive at the factory to find that the equipment needed for the GSM check isn’t available. Since you wouldn’t have any way to verify fabric density at that point, you might be forced to:
Reschedule the inspection, needlessly costing time and money, or ship the goods without knowing fabric density, which could result in unhappy customers or receiving the unsellable products if the density is too low.
Simply stating which tests and checks are required for a product isn’t always adequate. It’s highly recommended that you also include which equipment is necessary for each test and check. If you aren’t sure which equipment is needed, your supplier or third-party inspector should be able to advise. And do specify who will provide the equipment in the list.
Just as important as specifying the required equipment is clarifying who will provide it. In the fabric density example above, you might have included this test and the required equipment in your quality control inspection checklist. But the supplier could mistakenly think the inspector would bring the testing equipment. Likewise, the inspector might assume the factory had the equipment available on-site. Including who is expected to provide particular equipment helps prevent this.
For this part of a quality control inspection checklist, many importers are familiar with though often less directly and in limited detail. You might point to specific quality defects and other issues and tell your supplier which ones you can and cannot accept. You might even provide photos of these and describe the level of severity of different issues that’s acceptable.
But including a section in your QC checklist for classifying defects is a much better way to provide objective tolerances for quality issues. This section will typically point out any and all potential quality defects and classify each as either “minor”, “major” or “critical”, This section also tells the supplier and inspector about any tolerances for product defects. For example, you might classify a gap between product components as “minor” if it measures 3 mm or less but “major” if it exceeds 3 mm. You might specify that glue residue on a product is a “minor” defect if it can be easily removed but a “major” if it cannot be removed. Clarifying defects in a QC checklist ensures that everyone is using the same standard for assessment.
During your importing, create a quality control inspection checklist for your products that saves you a lot of trouble in the long run. It can defend against sub-standard or non-conforming goods. Since this document is in writing, it can also serve as a handy reference not just for workers on the factory floor, but also for if you have a disagreement with the factory about product standards.
Getting an absolutely perfect production run every single time is nearly impossible. But you can bring that goal closer to reality by preventing confusion and conveying expectations with a clear Quality control inspection checklist.