Quality control is the “immune system” of the manufacturing process. It keeps the production line moving and healthy, identifying weaknesses and fixing them accordingly. Yet some companies have grossly underestimated its importance:
The list goes on. While powerhouse brands usually have the resources to outlive the setbacks posed by such recalls and rebound in the long run, there’s always the risk of bad press becoming even a well-established brand’s death knell.
Companies like these could have saved millions of products and profits if they had invested a fraction of these financial costs in pre-emptive quality control inspections during the manufacturing process. A simple secret to success is? “Prevention is better than cure” and more effective than damage control. As such, it’s important to take preventative measures by mediating and monitoring the manufacturing process with quality control inspections from start to finish, including overseeing the final packaging and preparations for shipping.
In this article, we'll cover the types of quality control inspections, specifically for manufacturers.
When you’re relying on a third-party manufacturer, especially one in a foreign country, you need to be confident that the manufacturer will deliver a product that meets all of your expectations. For instance, if you’re a garment producer, you need to be sure your manufacturer is cutting the right fabric, rather than cutting corners by using substandard materials.
How can you be sure your manufacturer is producing products that meet your expectations? By carrying out quality control inspections before, during, and after production. This is the key to consistency in product quality. In addition, using accredited third-party quality control inspectors will ensure that inspections are done according to local and international standards.
Quality control experts visit factories on behalf of customers to ensure the manufacturing process and products meet the standards agreed upon before the merchandise leaves the factory. Quality control services include on-site factory inspections and testing with detailed reports to help ensure that your products meet your specifications and manage product quality in your supply chain.
Inspections for softlines and hardlines (non-food products) can follow the internationally recognized ANSI/ASQC Z1.4 (ISO 2859-1) statistical sampling procedure to specify a percentage of a batch of products which must be inspected to represent the overall quality of the entire batch, commonly referred to as the Acceptable Quality Limit (AQL). The producer or supplier should provide checklists to inspectors to determine the acceptable quality tolerance level for defects or non-conformity.
Factory inspections for defects are performed by marking products (units) that do not satisfy the product’s intended use. On-site quality control inspectors use ANSI/ASQ A3534-2-1993 standard checklists to mark any defective units according to the severity level of any defects.
Examples of Defects
Factory inspections for non-conformity determine whether a completed product (unit) meets the customer’s specification requirements. Inspected units are marked according to the severity level of any characteristics which don’t meet accepted standards.
Examples of Non Conformity
Inspections on processed and perishable foods are done in accordance with the guidelines of the WHO Food Code (Codex Alimentarius).
On-site factory inspections primarily focus on monitoring the manufacturing process and testing the physical condition of the resulting products for compliance with the client’s requirements. In addition, they ensure that the products are properly packaged and correctly loaded for shipping and customs inspection at the destination.
Factory inspections can be conducted at any stage of the manufacturing process, depending on the buyer’s or supplier’s requirements. These include:
Pre-product inspections are carried out before production begins and up until 20% of production has been completed. Inspections of the factory by impartial third-party quality control inspectors help clarify production requirements and specifications. This step firmly establishes whether the manufacturer will be able to deliver a quality product using the correct materials and manufacturing process.
First Article Inspection is an important part of the IPC. The purpose is to inspect the first item to come off the production line at the factory. This is the first and last chance to physically inspect the final product and spot any defects so corrections can be made ahead of mass production. This inspection assesses whether the final product meets all the engineering, design, and specification requirements. The results are documented and sent to the client for verification.
DUPRO is an essential preventative measure taken in the early stages of production. This inspection can mitigate costly mistakes in the long run by highlighting any problems before too many defective items are produced.
Quality control inspectors usually perform on-site DUPRO inspections when about 20% of the batch has come off the production line. If an issue is found at this time, it may be possible to find a workaround to fix the defective products and/or make necessary adjustments to the manufacturing process.
Quality control inspectors carry out on-site inspections at the factory every day to strictly monitor production and keep the factory accountable from start to finish. This is an especially beneficial option for suppliers working with a new factory to establish a professional working relationship. Daily inspections during product monitoring include scrutinizing factory processes, enforcing specifications, and physically inspecting randomly selected units.
Using ISO standard sampling procedures for a PSI, inspectors systematically inspect a portion of randomly selected units in all batches when production is at least 80% complete. This is the last chance to spot any defects and take corrective action before production is complete, and before the products are packed for shipping.
The final and crucial step in the quality control process is packing up the new product and properly preparing batches for shipping to destination markets. This is the last opportunity for inspection before your products reach your customer.
During the CLC, inspectors ensure the correct amount of different styles, sizes and quantities are sent out, and that they are properly loaded to minimize the risk of damage during transit. Quality control inspectors also check the packaging to ensure it complies with safety standards for the destination market and ensure that coverings will prevent damage from soiling. Proper ventilation in the packaging is also checked to prevent dampness and reduce the risk of mold growth during transit and storage.
Chemical testing required for certain products cannot be performed on-site at factories. Instead, samples of products are sent to laboratories.
Whatever your industry, we have professional inspectors all over the world ready to visit your factory within 48 hours to carry out on-site inspections on your behalf.
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