When it becomes evident that the estimated completion date of your production will be met by the factory (thanks to your continuous communication), it is time to book the Final Random Inspection with your inspection company.
Scheduling the Inspection
This is usually done approximately 7-10 days before the shipment date. As mentioned before, inspection companies request inspection bookings be made at least 5 working days in advance. This gives them a fair chance to coordinate their manpower and to make arrangements with the factory. After receiving your request, the inspector(s) will contact your factory to schedule the date and time of the inspection.
Remember, China is a very big country and the distances from factory to factory are quite large. Therefore, the inspection company tries to coordinate inspections with inspectors who are already in the vicinity. In some cases, the factory may arrange to pick up the inspector from another location.
Inspector(s) try to arrive early because the production is stopped during lunch, which is one hour long and starts as early as 11:30AM. During that time, management, QC staff, and workers are not available. Inspectors will normally take their own lunch break. If they arrive late in the morning, there will not be enough time to get the inspection started. Of course, there are some lazy guys that purposely arrive shortly before the lunch break but most inspectors are tightly controlled and have to report back to their head office by phone several times each day, especially if they have to inspect an important project.
Once started, the inspector(s) will randomly select the correct quantity of products from the production lot. They will then compare each production sample for compliance with the checklist requirements.
The following link was provided in Chapter 16 but in case you missed it here it is again:
The inspector’s job is time consuming and for more complex products, such as bread makers or microwave ovens, they may even need two man-days to complete the job.
What is a man-day? The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines a man-day as: “A unit of one day’s work by one person”. It is the standard definition used by Inspection companies when they invoice their expenses to customers.
Most factories have one or more separate QC rooms for customers’ inspectors. This allows them to check the selected samples without interrupting the production process. They are equipped with instruments, which the inspectors need to perform their jobs.
Some really good advice from me is, if a factory cannot offer inspection rooms and equipment, you better refrain from working with them. They do not want you to have their quality checked and there is probably a good reason for it.
In Chapter 8, I advised you to check the QC facilities of the factory and now you can understand why that is important.
The Inspection Report
The inspector takes many notes of his findings for the Inspection Report. They also take many digital photos to be integrated into the inspection report later on.
After the inspector has finished their inspection, usually late in the afternoon, they will discuss the results with the factory management and ask them to sign a handwritten report. Often factory management disagrees with their findings and refuse to sign. In this case, the inspector must inform his head office immediately because lengthy negotiations are not in your interest. The handwritten report is then faxed to the inspection company’s head office for further processing. The inspector may take one or more samples with him as supporting evidence of his findings.
When Defects Are Found
You need some advice about how to deal with factory management when unacceptable defects are found. Management will immediately try to put you into the corner by requesting advice from you about what is acceptable and what is not. If you or the inspector fails to pay close attention, you can unwillingly set a new quality standard for the production.
A well-organized factory will ask you to sign a production sample you accept and have it sealed. That means anything meeting that standard cannot be challenged in the future.
Receiving a Passed Inspection Report
Assuming everything went according to plan and the inspection passes. The head office of the inspection company issues the final computerized inspection report to you and the factory. Typically within one working day.
The head office of the inspection company can overrule the inspector’s findings and amend the inspection report. That might happen after discussing the content with you and receiving your approval.
You should only give approval for minor defects that will not affect your future sales. Remember, you are responsible for quality for your customers and must protect both your and their interests.
Discounts for Defects
Sometimes factories offer price reductions to convince you to accept the defective goods. It would be the cheapest way to escape their responsibility but I have to warn you to think hard before you accept the proposals. If the factory compensates you with a minor price reduction, you have to ask yourself how much it would cost your company if customers at home return part or all of the goods. You end up paying the return delivery charges and could be financially liable if a retailer’s promotion fails.
After taking everything into consideration, you may not want to accept the factory’s discount and instead ask them to re-work the goods.
Sometimes the factory will propose re-working the products in a short time period knowing that the inspection company cannot send an inspector for the re-inspection. They ask that you skip the inspection because they will take every precaution to assure proper quality. You may or may not accept this. It depends on your relationship with the factory and whether you are willing to trust them.
The factory has two separate self-interests here. First, they want to avoid paying the re-inspection charges and secondly they simply want the goods out of their factory because space is needed for other projects.
So long as you do not advise the inspection company to issue the Inspection Certificate, you are in the stronger position with more negotiating power.
Now you should better understand why I suggested you avoid a tight shipping schedule. If you must ship to catch your customer’s promotion date, you are in for a hard time. One thing you can consider to protect your company’s interest is asking the factory to issue a letter of guarantee. In the letter of guarantee the factory should pledge to take full responsibility for all claims resulting from a specific defect found during inspection.