Do you rely on product inspect to verify quality? Are you rushing to inspect your product before the shipping deadline? How much notice do you provide your inspection company before inspection is booked?
(Don’t miss the extended?podcast?interview with Steve that covers this topic!)
Although an inspection company may be able to arrange services with less than even 24 hours of notice, there are three important advantages to getting them involved earlier in the process. You might even find that you are missing out on a very valuable part of their service!
Reason #1 – Inspections Won’t Be Missed
This is the most important reason to get your inspection company involved early. Scheduling an inspection is not as simple as just showing up at the factory and walking into the warehouse. The following are some key points that need to be addressed before an inspection takes place:
- Confirm service location. It is embarrassing to show up at the wrong place, but it can happen (especially if a vendor makes the booking)!
- Confirm order status. Let’s say you are requesting an inspection of an order that is 100 percent finished and packed. The inspection company needs time to reach the supplier and confirm the order will be finished by the time the inspector arrives. Inspecting an order that is 10 percent complete doesn’t provide you with nearly the same level of confidence as inspecting at 100 percent complete.
- Confirm service date. If the supplier can’t provide a specific date for the service, then that is an immediate tip off that the supplier is either not ready or is trying to dodge the service altogether. For this reason, an inspection company will generally require the supplier to email a completed booking form covering the above points so that the supplier can be held accountable financially if the real situation at the factory is different. Many importers will work out a penalty system with suppliers to cover missed inspections, insufficient quantities for inspection, or significant delays.
Reason #2 – Delays are Detected Early
If you think you are really on top of the status of your orders at each supplier…think again! It is widely understood between those in the QC industry that importers generally do not receive accurate information from their suppliers. It is usually very optimistic. This is because factories generally operate with the mindset that there is always “time to catch up” until the order is actually delayed, at which point the factory has to come clean.
This is easily avoided by getting your inspection company involved earlier. If you consider your supplier to be forgetful, but overall very honest, then maybe a few calls leading up to the inspection will serve as sufficient reminder of your order’s importance.
But you may have chronic issues with on-time delivery and generally don’t trust your supplier. In this case, you are much better off scheduling an extra inspection during production or just a regular visit to tour the factory and see what is going on. With clear instructions from you to your supplier, a 3rd-party inspection company can absolutely provide you with this kind of support. Compared to flying across the ocean to visit the factory yourself, imagine how much easier and more cost-effective it would be to send someone to the factory that can speak English and Chinese and provide seamless translation in real time.
Reason #3 – Costs Can Be Forecasted and Services Tailored to Your Needs
Understandably, importers want to share information on an as-needed basis. However, this often means having inspections quoted and approved only at the very last minute once they are 100 percent sure they want to go ahead with the service. If confidentiality is a real concern, then have your inspection partner sign an NDA. The benefits to providing your inspection partner with more information about your order volume include:
- Easier long-term forecasting of service costs. This helps avoid surprises towards the end of the month when you find out you are over-budget on QC and have to start cancelling inspections or dipping into the next month’s budget.
- Services can be tailored to fit your specific needs. This means your partner can provide options for accomplishing a fixed amount of work or within a certain budget.
How Early Should You Get Your QC Partner Involved?
Importers that rely extensively on their inspection company for support will see the most benefit by copying them when issuing purchase orders to suppliers. Seeing the PO go through provides an immediate alert to your service provider that there will be inspection in the future and that regular follow up will be required to ensure that happens. For importers that have fairly stable and reliable supplier relationships, at least 2 full weeks of notice prior to the expected inspection/shipment date is recommended.
You can help make sure that your products are inspected when you need them most by providing your inspection company with a list of upcoming open orders. In this way, you benefit by having your QC partner:
- Ensure that inspections are missed by scheduling earlier
- Detect and notify you of any delays in your order; and
- Give you a more clear estimate of inspection costs and provide a quote that’s tailored to your needs and budget
Send your inspection company a list of open orders and copy them when issuing POs to your supplier. Staying on top of quality starts with getting your QC people involved early!