A Brief Look at Quality Control in an Asian Factory
Quality control is arguably the single most important part of your supply chain. In the promotional products industry it is often neglected in order to save time or simply because the whole process is not transparent enough. This is unnecessary, since doing quality control right can be much faster and much more effective than some might think it is.
At QC workshops regularly attended by Emperor sales staff based in China, one thing becomes clear very soon: The efficiency in locating, evaluating and solving product quality problems on the ground is far higher than it is for sales teams based in abroad who may never even come in contact with the products they are selling.
Here are a few steps that only skim the surface of the whole process of quality control that professional factories adhere to:
1) Preparation of inspection. What often happens during QC inspection in promotional product factories is that the control takes place just before a product exits production. The key. however, is to start only when you are ready-rushing never works.
2) Control the product. Wrong: checking every single product. This is extremely time-consuming and sooner or later everything will look the same. Errors are guaranteed. Right: sample at set intervals. Sampling gives you a very accurate view of the overall quality and will save you precious time in the long run.
3) Control the process. Where did the issue occur? Observe production, compare production with previous projects and always protect the customer.
4) Debrief the supplier. Present QC inspection results and communicate the final decision before formalizing an agreement.
5) Capitalize. Continuously improve your production and QC inspection process by evaluating the outcome of inspections.
Quality control personnel can never and should never correct mistakes themselves. If a mistake ever occurs, QC personnel need to discuss the issue and the cause of the issue with production personnel and together come to a more efficient and better production process.
One of the things Western companies purchasing promotional items overseas have to take in account is the culture of the countries producing the products. For example, in China, the largest exporter of electronic promotional items, admitting a mistake is considered a personal loss of face. It is crucial to train your QC personnel in understanding how to properly conduct a QC inspection and work together to improve altogether.
Choosing a supplier that has Western staff on the ground is valuable and worth it in the long run if you wish to keep your customers with a high level of satisfaction. Not only are you able to communicate in your native language, but you can also have piece of mind knowing that what you order is what you are going to get. With many suppliers these days are just handing their order off to a third party factory overseas, this is invaluable.
Wouter Savelkoul hails from Susteren, Netherlands, and is a senior sales representative for Emperor, based in its China office and manages accounts in Europe, Canada and the U.S. Aside from business development he also often takes out his pen USB and writes articles on Asian manufacturing, QC/QA, and anything else directly related to the promotional products industry.
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