Your factory tour will be at a hectic pace with lots of information coming at you fast. You will not have enough time to take notes in either a paper notebook or a notebook computer. Nor will there be a convenient place to use the computer.
Still, you will want to capture all of the information. A dictation recorder is the perfect answer. Both a micro-cassette and memory card machines work fine for this. Between the digital camera and voice recorder, you should have no trouble capturing and organizing all the data. This will also help you remember what you saw at different factories so that you do not confuse the facts between them.
Another good choice is to use your cell phone that very likely has a recording function perfect for this use. Take as many notes as possible because you will not likely be coming be back soon. At a later date, you will probably find this information comes in handy for another project being considered for the factory.
In the evening, at your hotel you can download the recording to your computer and match the audio files with your photos to keep well organized files about the factory.
Another advantage to keeping this information handy might come up when you visit another factory. If the first factory gives you some information that you want to verify, you can refer back to your notes and photos to ask another factory to verify it. Maybe the first factory told you that certain materials or components are in short supply but the next factory does not mention it. You can refer back to your notes for the details and ask the second factory if they are having the same problem.
I have had the experienced of factory staff disclosing information during the walking tour that they did not want to bring up in the conference room discussions that included their colleagues. Having a voice recorder along lets you capture the information immediately and accurately.
A common example would be finding products manufactured for one of your competitors and you asking the staff member about the projects details.
They will usually tell you the order quantities, the estimated delivery date, and, even the FOB price that your competitor paid, if you can believe that. The bad news is that the same thing will happen when your competitor asks for details your project during one of his visits. If you have your own interpreter, this would be another important moment to get him involved. He can ask questions for you of anyone around. It does not have to be an English speaking staff member.