Imagine that you’ve just designed a dream product that you hope will make its debut on store shelves one month from now. You’ve asked a third-party to visit the factory and carry out a QC inspection for the product. Now that the inspection is finished, you receive the report with a result of “fail”. What should you do?
It’s not uncommon for product QC inspections to fail, particularly when it’s the first inspection for a new product. You’ve probably paid a deposit for these goods. You cannot simply reject the shipment and walk away. So what can you do about it? In this article, we’ll tell you how to respond to a failed inspection. But first, let’s clarify just what is meant by a failed inspection result.
What Does it Mean to “Fail” a QC Inspection?
Ultimately, a result of “fail” means there was a serious issue found with the product(s), or that based on the sample size inspected, the defects found exceeded the tolerance for AQL (Acceptable Quality Limits).
Sometimes failure is caused by insignificant defects which may be acceptable to you. But other times, there are key issues that point to components which must be reworked.
Provide Feedback to Both Your Supplier and QC Provider
The first step is to provide clear feedback to the factory and your third-party QC provider. They should be able to advise corrective action to address the defects or other issues that were found during inspection. Defining clear quality standards is the first step to resolving issues in future orders.
In many cases, a fail result may have been caused by too many minor defects such as small scratches or other, perhaps insignificant, visual defects. In this case, you may decide to accept the order and ask the factory for their corrective action plan – how they plan to reduce or eliminate similar defects in the future.
However, sometimes there are key defects which are unacceptable to you. Defects like these need to be reworked, if possible, before an order ships. In such circumstances, how can you be sure that the factory will carry out this work before shipping?
Reinspect the Product to Verify Reworking
The most effective way to ensure that reworking is carried out is to insist on another QC inspection prior to shipment. A re-inspection by your QC partner is the only way to ensure that the defects found during the initial inspection were fixed or mitigated to an acceptable standard. Some prudent buyers might have an agreement that the supplier bear the costs of any re-inspections needed to verify reworking. This kind of agreement often helps hold the factory accountable to meeting product standards.
Sometimes deadlines are tight, or you’ve not factored-in costs of re-inspections. In this case, you should at least insist that the factory conduct a 100% inspection of the order internally. Factory management should be able to provide you with a report of how many times the relevant defects were found during their inspection. Not surprisingly, a factory’s own QC staff are likely to be more lenient when reviewing their own work. So it’s important that you clearly explain the consequences of shipping goods with unreported defects (e.g. charge back, no future business etc.).
The factory conducting their own inspection will not ensure that they actually carry out the reworking. But this puts the responsibility back on the factory should you find that the goods still have those defects on arrival. This way, you have some protection if the factory has no intention of carrying out the reworking they say they’ll do.
Next time your shipment fails QC inspection, don’t panic. If the result is due to something non-critical, focus on remedying those issues for future orders. Should it be serious enough to warrant re-work, make sure you put the responsibility back on the factory. You can do this either by insisting on re-inspection, or having clear consequences laid out in case those defects or issues are found in the finished goods that you receive.