China is one of the most popular manufacturing hubs in the world. Many businesses look at China as a prospect for importing their products due to its low labour cost and state-of-art technology. You cannot simply rely on suppliers to get your products manufactured and shipped off. You need to personally get them inspected for defects or damages and if the quality is at par with your requirements.
Importance of Pre-Shipment Inspection
If you are already dealing with Chinese suppliers for the manufacturing of your products, then you might want to check the quality of your products. One such way of doing this is by asking for samples. If you are happy with the samples, you can tell your supplier to complete the batch orders.
Many times, if you are not careful, your products will not live up to your expectations. Sometimes, due to the negligence of the suppliers or technical issues, some of the orders might not live up to the mark. If you have bulk orders, it might be difficult to closely monitor all your orders and your orders might get shipped with proper quality checks.
Here is where pre-shipment inspection can help save your brand image. This inspection ensures that all products manufactured are within your specifications and LOC. This is carried out when 80-85% of your orders are ready to be shipped.
These inspections can either be carried out by your quality control department or you can hire quality inspections or third parties to do the inspections for you. Random samples will be picked from the batches and inspected for damages or inferior materials.
Now you might wonder why these inspections are important. If you have a global reach, then products must be as per the requirements of your customers. If your customers are happy, it can help build the brand of your business and improve profits.
Some of the benefits of pre-shipment inspection include:
- It checks the Acceptance Quality Level (AQL)
- It can help identify damages and defects and take corrective actions before the products are shipped
- It also checks for proper labelling and coding on the products
- A certificate will be issued by the quality inspectors after passing the inspection
- This certificate is required in some countries during import procedures
It is always better to take the help of professionals to conduct the inspections. These inspectors will ensure that your orders are thoroughly inspected before they are shipped off to their destination. Pre-shipment inspections are always carried out on-site and having an inspector to check out the orders can help save on time and money.
What Happens During Pre-Shipment Inspections
If you thought inspections were all about just inspecting the orders and preparing reports, then you might need to get your facts right. There are 7 steps to the whole inspection process.
- Preparing for the inspection visit
- Verifying the quantity of the orders
- Picking up random cartons for verifications
- Check for visible defects
- Check for conformity defects
- Conduct safety tests
- Prepare the inspection reports
The quality inspector will visit the factory or suppliers for the inspection. Credible inspectors will have the necessary equipment required to conduct the inspection. They will ask the suppliers to sign compliance documents before they do the pre-shipment inspection.
Next, they will check the orders and verify the quantities. They will count orders in each carton and verify them against the orders placed. This ensures that the right quantity is shipped to customers within the stipulated time.
The quality inspectors will randomly pick the cartons. The products inside the cartons will be thoroughly checked for defects and damages as per the Acceptance Quality Limit (AQL). If defects are found, then the order will be rejected. The defects found are classified as critical, major, or minor. The AQL varies depending on the type of products manufactured.
The inspectors then will perform conformity checks to inspect the material, weight, colour, marking, and size of the products. All these criteria will be measured against the original specifications provided by you.
There are certain standards that inspectors need to follow in the case of pre-shipment inspection. As inspectors will not be in a position to verify all the contents of the order, they will make use of sampling plans such as ISO or ANSI to determine how many samples would suffice to conduct the inspection.
The next important step is the safety and function checks. Different safety checks are required depending on the nature of the products that are manufactured. Safety and function checks for the following are as follows:
In the case of electrical products, the products are tested for high voltage, leakage of current, insulation resistance, and ground continuity. All these products must be within the regulatory standards before they are labelled and certified.
In the case of garments, functionality tests are performed to determine the density of the fabrics. Apparels need to undergo fatigue tests to check the materials’ durability, and stretch tests to evaluate the recovery of elastic fabrics. The inspectors will stretch the elastics by hand and check if they break under pressure. Similar exercises will be performed in the case of zippers or buttons.
Safety checks for mechanical products include checking parts for defects. The inspectors will check for any sharp edges, loose screws, or hinges, so as not to cause injuries to customers at the time of using the products.
Last, but not least, after the pre-shipment inspection is complete, the inspectors will then prepare the reports of their findings and share them with you. The reports may also contain images of the products that have been inspected. They will also share the final result of the inspection for you to evaluate and make the decision.
Inspection of your products before they are shipped off to different countries ensures that your products are of good quality and come with inspection certificates on them. This gives peace of mind that there is no quality issue with your product and you can get them shipped right off to their destination.