When manufacturing goods in China, it’s vital to have processes in place that assess the quality of your products before they’re dropped on a customer’s doorstep thousands of miles away. That’s why many importers choose to conduct quality inspections on their goods before shipping. Often, we get inquiries from importers asking us if we can conduct a piece by piece inspection in China.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about these inspections and how to determine if they are the right choice for your quality control efforts.
Essentially, a piece by piece inspection evaluates every single manufactured product in an order. More commonly known as a 100% inspection or full inspection, it means that each individual item is inspected for defects or errors.
These inspections usually occur post-production and pre-shipment to confirm that each item is correct before being sent off for distribution. However, they can also be conducted in factories on the production line. Full inspections aim to completely eliminate defective products and ensure a high-quality shipment.
Like 100% inspections, Sort inspections are conducted piece by piece, but the goal is to catch a specific error the service provider discovered during a regular inspection. Every single product item is inspected, but only for one issue in particular.
For example, a business that manufactures sports jerseys discovers during an inspection that a shirt is entirely the wrong shade of red, but they need to get the jerseys to the retailer as soon as possible. A sort inspection “sorts” through every individual jersey for correct coloring so that you can remove the defective items.
The good items can then be shipped, while the defective ones may be discounted or remade once the factory has identified and addressed the root of the error.
When manufacturing overseas and importing from China, it’s always a good idea to implement a thorough inspection process. Intentional QC practices can counterbalance the lack of direct oversight due to distance. In general, inspections are appropriate and necessary when:
- You are questioning the manufacturer’s quality control measures and suspect that a high number of your goods may be defective.
- You want a chance to rework or replace defective products before they are shipped overseas.
- Receiving too much bad product would incur a high cost or significant consequence for your business.
You can either inspect piece by piece (100%) or utilize AQL sampling. AQL sampling is a statistically proven method for selecting a portion of your products to check, and in many situations, AQL sampling is actually the better choice.
When deciding between an AQL sampling inspection (where a specific percentage of your products are fully inspected) and a 100% inspection (where all products are fully inspected), there are a few factors to consider:
- Quantity: If you have a high volume of goods, it’s going to be much more time and cost-effective to use AQL sampling. However, with a lower quantity of goods, the price between the two types of inspections may become comparable, in which case it may be best to have all your goods inspected.
- Type of Product: If you are manufacturing a high-value product (such as $10,000 watches) or a high-risk product (such as aerospace parts or medical devices), a 100% inspection may be feasible and preferable. However, for everyday consumer products such as furniture, personal electronics, or toys, AQL sampling inspections are generally more appropriate and consistently effective.
- Timeline: Unsurprisingly, piece by piece inspections take longer to conduct than sampling inspections. It’s essential to account for this within your production schedule to map out a realistic inspection timeline. If you need a faster but still effective inspection process, AQL sampling may be the way to go.
You can also download our free guide to learn about the AQL sampling method.
As a consumer goods importer, the quality of your products is key to your success. Good quality products will earn you favorable reviews and repeat purchases. Thus, product inspections are essential. Having a good grasp of AQL sampling allows you to work with your third-party inspectors more effectively. Our AQL 101 white paper will teach you all the basics of the AQL method.