Checking quality takes more time in the factory

by Renaud Anjoran on 8 March 2010

Checking quality in a factory always takes longer than in an importer’s warehouse. Sometimes I give a quotation to a client, who replies “why do you charge 2 days? It would only take me 1 day!”

I never like to be suspected by my clients, so I have to explain the situation to them. Here is what I usually respond:

In perfect conditions it is doable, yes.

If you have to get to the factory, check the quantity, select and open the cartons, check all inspection samples carefully, take the measurements and do all the tests, check all the details of labeling and packaging… It takes time, but in theory it is doable.

The problem is, you might forget to consider three factors:

Less time available for checking quality in the factory

  • Factories do not want the inspector to arrive too early (9am is considered early),
  • They want us to get out during their lunch break (everyone goes to eat and then have a nap for at least 90min, so the factory is usually closed),
  • The last bus is around 6:30pm in the bus station.

Lower productivity while checking quality

  • The factory people often discuss the inspector’s method along the way. They are watching the job being done, so no shortcut can be taken.
  • Before leaving, the inspector has to call a manager and talk him into signing the list of findings.
  • A third-party inspector can never be as familiar with a certain product (and its specs) as its buyer.

The danger of overload

An inspector should never have to hurry up. If he does, certain issues might be overlooked, and the job is not done properly.

He should do his work methodically and follow the procedure all along (i.e. take photos, refer to documents, write down every finding, etc.).

Some clients also try to “negotiate” to get a “better offer”. For example, I tell them we can check 200 samples visually, but we will only check 5 samples for measurements. (This is based on the complexity of the product and the time we estimate it will take.) Then they ask for 10 samples in measurements, hoping to settle for 7 or 8.

This type of discussion usually takes place with new clients, who don’t understand the way we work. They think we are lazy and we don’t try to “go the extra mile” to get their business.

What they don’t understand is that an inspector in a hurry is not a reliable inspector, and they are working against their own interest.

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