China Quality Control services work as a filter. The more they are performed, the more defects are likely to get caught.
It’s because of this that more and more buyers don’t want to use the conventional international AQL standard of random inspections. Buyers are less convinced their manufacturers are producing their goods consistently under the correct quality level, motivating them to check 100% of their goods.
As thorough as a 100% inspections may sound, it won’t always produce the best results! Here are 5 reasons why 100% inspections may not work:
It goes without saying, but performing piece-by-piece QC inspections is extremely labor intensive. Not only will checking each product take more time, but it will also take a much higher toll on your wallet.
Don’t be surprised to encounter hesitancy from QC companies to fulfill this special request. Only a handful of QC companies even offer 100% product inspections as part of their regular service. If you find one that does, you can be assured it won’t come cheap.
Setting unrealistic deadlines
You can be certain that 100% inspections will delay your production to some extent. Oftentimes, inspection managers will agree to a buyer’s unrealistic deadlines in order to win their business, only to pin the pressure on their employees who are conducting the actual inspections.
More often than not, these requests occur during peak periods when the buyer needs to get the production completed before major holidays. They also take place right before major Chinese Holidays. These holiday periods are fraught with production delays already, which are then compounded when a 100% QC inspection rate is requested. This puts added pressure on the inspection agents, which leads to our next point:
Shortcuts to inspect faster
Regarding the previous point, unrealistic deadlines can encourage inspectors to take shortcuts, which can create a trainwreck down the line. These shortcuts can be exacerbated if the agents are lazy or undisciplined. If Inspectors are in a time crunch to do complete a 100% QC inspection, they will often not check as many samples as they should in an effort to speed up the process.
QC Inspections/testing can be destructive to your product
Sometimes product testing requires the product to be damaged or destroyed. For example, products with inherent properties that need to be tested like non-shatter glass, or borosilicate glass samples will need to be taken out of the production and tested for their properties. Basically they need to be removed and run through tests designed to break them.
Destructive testing, or (Destructive Physical Analysis/DPA) tests are performed to analyze the inherent properties of the components to measure performance or material behavior. This kind of testing may render your product unsellable after being tested, so you’ll need to take this into account when deciding on the number of units to order.
Human error and fatigue
As you can imagine, 100% Inspections can be extremely labor-intensive. Not only do inspections require extreme concentration, but repetitive checking of the same products can get mundane and boring. This often leads to fatigue, human error, and consequently poor quality detection. This can result in inspectors approving goods with defects, or conversely rejecting goods that are acceptable to the buyer.
This is common when 100% inspections are requested for productions that contain thousands of units. Obviously a 100% inspection of an order containing 200 units is dramatically easier than inspecting an order with 5,000 units.
If you’re placing your first order with a new factory, you can let them know that you’ll be having your production inspected and that it will be a 100% inspection of all units. This may help ensure that they put in extra effort to make sure their in-house quality control and QMS is on point. By doing this, you’re letting them know that quality is critical and you take it seriously. To take it a step further, make sure to build in quality clauses to your purchase agreements. If the supplier know they will have to overcompensate you for any defects or failed inspections, they’re more apt to get it right the first time.
So what to do?
100% QC inspections are usually reserved for products with the potential to cause severe to injury life, like automobile and avionic parts. 100% inspections do not make sense for products that do not require top quality, like promotional products. Unless you want to use this type of inspection for a new supplier on a small order, as explained above.
It may also make sense to inspect your product piece-by-piece if time is not necessarily a priority. Give yourself and your inspectors the time to inspect your products, but be sure to take into account that inspections are typically charged per man-day (roughly $250 – $300), and not usually charged per total quantity of units. Obviously the more units you have, the longer it will take, and thus the more it will cost.
When deciding whether or not to do a 100% QC inspection on your products, it’s up to you to weigh the cost to benefit ratio. It makes sense in a very small subset of situations to do this type of inspection. In the majority of other situations, you’re better off choosing one of the more common and cost-effective type of quality inspections.