After they receive your sample(s) and your clearly detailed instructions, the inspection company will prepare a checklist that you will have to verify. At this stage, you can still make corrections.
Again the Importance of Your Samples
The inspection company will use the sample(s) as a reference. Again, you should realize how important it was to give clear instructions to the factory for the preparation of the samples.
It is never a good idea to ask to have the inspection performed without a sample being available for comparison. If you do this, do not be surprised if the inspector’s findings do not match your expectations. Once manufacturing is complete, the factory’s single goal is to ship out the product and collect your money as soon as possible. Without a sample to rely on, the factory can easily confuse the inspector to hurry the process along.
Inspections Have Become More Detailed
I would like to give you an idea of the extent importers have changed the requirements given to inspection companies over the last few years.
Home appliances make a good example. Some years ago, toasters were operated without any bread during the inspection. Nobody cared to test whether bread was toasted consistently from top to bottom and side to side. That has completely changed because end consumers have also become more demanding and don’t accept slices of toast bread where the top is completely burned and the bottom is still white.
Similarly, coffee makers were operated without ground coffee and it was sufficient when the boiled water dripped into the glass jar proving the coffee maker was functioning properly. Today inspections are conducted with ground coffee along with paper or permanent filters in order to simulate a normal operation. Only then, can the inspector discover whether the coffee will run fast enough through the filter and coffee without overflowing.
You probably get the point about how much effort is necessary to inspect products to make sure that they meet the consumer’s expectations for day-to-day use. Therefore, you will understand that only an experienced inspection company can cope with ever-changing requirements and directives. It makes no sense to employ someone without this experience, but who may charge less.
After you have selected your inspection company and they have received your sample(s) you must provide them with a copy of your P/O. It is advisable to blank out the FOB prices because inspectors could be tempted to pass such information to competitors.
In general, you should know there are not many secrets in China. Inspectors frequently run into their counterparts from other companies when performing their job at several different factories. It may well be that they have lunch together (usually provided by the factory) and talk shop. And talk they will. Important information spreads faster than you can imagine.
FOB prices are not necessarily something you want discussed among inspectors. Don’t give them the chance by showing it on your P/O copies.
Setting Up The Inspection
The inspection company will include vital information from your P/O in the checklist along with other specifications received from you. Usually the checklist includes various digital photos of specific details the inspector needs to be familiar with. In general, the more detailed information you provide to the inspection company, including digital photos, the better the inspector can perform his duties.
After everything is clear, you will book your inspection(s) with your inspection company. This is usually done by filling out an online application form. Follow this link to view a sample booking form for the major Hong Kong quality control company Hong Kong Standards and Testing Centre
Booking the inspection must be arranged at least 5-7 working days prior to the estimated date of production completion or at least the date when 80% of your production will have been completed. It is very important to know that the inspector will refuse to perform an inspection if the total completed production quantity is less than 80% and if the products have not been packed in their sales packaging and export cartons. The factory will be charged for the inspector’s expense for the failed inspection.
After having received your inspection booking, the inspection company contacts the factory and verifies the inspection date because they have to coordinate the manpower and will try to allocate their inspectors to several factory locations in the same area.
Depending on the order quantity, the inspector will randomly inspect a predetermined number of products and file an inspection report with his findings. If you want to know the quantities that will be inspected to comply with the requested inspection standard, use the following link from SQC Online Company. The information is free although you have to register with them to access their service. The Sampling Plans Calculator provides you with fast results.
Following this link provides more details about the sampling plan procedure:
The international standard presently used for most inspections is ISO 2859-1, a civilian standard derived from the American Military Standard 105D and 105E.
The Inspection Report
After the inspection is performed, you will receive an inspection report by e-mail, usually no more than one working day after the inspection date.
This inspection report is nearly identical to the inspector’s checklist along with his findings and additional photos taken by the inspector as evidence and for your decision making. The inspection company is employed by you as a third party. They do not have decision-making authority to release any of the inspected goods for shipment. They have an advisory function and you must make the decision.
Most inspection companies have expended effort simplifying inspection reports to make them easier to understand. Importers are seldom technically trained or engineers. Importers need clear and concise information. Therefore, most inspection reports show only two conclusions:
That is easy to understand and usually you do not need to take further action when the result is “Passed”. Unfortunately however, I can tell you that you will have more “Rejected” results than “Passed”.
Be very careful about making a decision releasing rejected goods for shipment. Once the shipment is on its way, there is not much you can do to protect your interests. As mentioned previously, manufacturers will always try to convince you that the cause for the rejection was a minor one and you should not worry. The factory may also offer you a compensation payment (minor price reduction) to aid in convincing you. It is up to you to accept it but please be aware that the labor cost in your home country are much higher than in China and if you are faced with a claim from your customers, the small compensation will not even cover your own costs.
Since rejected inspections do occur, you have to take them into consideration when planning the shipment date and of course when planning and confirming promotions with your customers at home. Anything else would be asking for trouble. The problem always becomes serious if you have placed yourself under too much pressure, with a too tight shipment schedule, by not leaving room for any unexpected events.
The normal procedure is for the factory to rework the rejected goods within a couple of days and a re-inspection will be called for. The re-inspection is always on the manufacturer’s account because they have created the problem through their lacking performance.
There could be many disputes about the reasons for rejection, if you did not provide clear information about your specifications, standards, and specific requirements. Be aware that you immediately change the rules when you release goods with a lower than requested quality standard. The factory will take note that an on-time delivery is more important to you than the quality and act accordingly during the next production run.
A strict position towards quality issues is your best protection against inferior products. A properly planned shipment schedule will give the factory enough time for the rework and leave you with more negotiating power.
Other Advantages Working With an Inspection Company
When working with an inspection company you gain one very important advantage. In your P/O and your L/C you can specify that a shipment will be only released after you have received an Inspection Certificate from your inspection company. Evidently, the Inspection certificate is only issued when the order has a “Passed” result, which could mean after a successful re-work.
The good thing is the factory has to comply because shipping goods without having received the Inspection Certificate (this happens sometimes) means they will not be paid from your bank if you included such a clause in your L/C. This leaves you in a much stronger negotiation position because it would be up to you when the factory would receive their payment.