Once you have established a quality standard for the products you are importing from China (or other low-cost Asian countries), you need to be able to ensure that the standard will be enforced and that quality levels won’t drop over time.
Keep reading for four suggestions that will help you to enforce your quality standards:
Four Suggestions For Better Enforcement Of Quality Standards In Asia
Here are our four suggestions for effectively enforcing quality standards in Asia:
1. Demand a sample and use it to establish quality levels
Before production starts, you will need a ‘perfect’ sample (prepared by the supplier and approved by your side) to demonstrate exactly what you want production to look like and perform like.
The supplier should understand that the perfect sample is NOT just a one-off that bears little relation to what will be mass-produced. To ensure that standards don’t slip, make sure you don’t pay all the money before you have checked the quality of the mass-produced items, while it is also worth getting signed agreement that there won’t be deviations from the sample.
2. Agree to what differences can be tolerated
If your products don’t need to be 100% similar to the sample you approved, that doesn’t mean you should give the suppliers free rein to determine what is acceptable and what isn’t.
As well as defining what ‘perfect’ looks like, you need to define what slight deviations can be accepted and, of course, which aspects cannot under any circumstances be different from the specifications.
A best practice for criteria such as color, which can be difficult to quantify, is to have boundary samples. You might say, ‘not more grey that sample B, and not more red than sample C.’
3. Agree what defects can be tolerated
You need to lay down the expectations about defects that might occur during the production process – what is not a defect, what is major, what is minor, and what is critical.
This very much depends on your product, of course. A 5mm scratch on a watch is not classified the same way as a 5mm scratch on industrial equipment. You cannot let the factory determine this, their idea of AQL may well not match yours. Even quality inspectors sometimes let defective goods pass too, and so considering a way to support their inspections and improve their effectiveness, such as implementing quality inspection software, may be prudent.
4. Don’t make exceptions
One of the most important things you can do with a quality standard is to be consistent.
If you define what quality you expect and then allow for something of lower quality, the suppliers will use that leeway to their advantage the next time, dragging down the quality level further and further for each time you agree to look the other way.
Sticking to your guns may be hard but it’s the only way to ensure quality is maintained.
Do you agree with these 4 tips? Do you have any to add? Are you using quality inspection software already to help your inspectors enforce quality standards?
Please add your comments, thoughts, and questions below this post for us to answer.