5 Steps To Ensuring Product Quality

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Poor quality may be the biggest risk you face when sourcing product from China, or indeed from anywhere overseas.  Here are some of the simple steps Hornet take with every order to manage quality control:

1. Specification

It’s not just for technical and industrial products – it’s for everything!  A good specification means less chance of unspoken assumptions, which aren’t shared by the other party.  Plus, a specification document is less likely to change on its way from you to Hornet to the factory sales rep to the production engineer who actually makes your product.
A basic piece of advice is to put everything in one master specification document.  If you miss a requirement the first time round, don’t just send a separate email, amend the original document, highlight the changes and resend.  Some areas to consider:

  • Quality of raw materials where appropriate (eg thickness of card, kind of fabric, type of plastic)
  • Size – and how much variation is allowed
  • Colour – specifications such as Pantone or CMYK are more precise than ‘gold’ or ‘dark blue’
  • Packaging – if this is part of your product, or if you need it to ensure damage-free shipping
  • Are there any standards or regulations you need to comply with?
  • Pictures often translate better than words – especially if you add green ticks and red crosses
  • Physical samples are a great quality reference if they exist

If you”re having trouble, ask us for a copy of our specification template.

2. Samples

It’s Hornet standard practice to ask for samples – and it’s essential on a first order!

Samples not only help you weed out the poor quality factories, they also help identify unspoken assumptions.  You know your umbrella needs an ‘auto-stop’ so it doesn’t turn inside-out when someone opens it too vigorously – the factory might not, and they might want to cut production cost by missing this step.  Samples can fix the problem before they manufacture 5000 umbrellas for you.

3. Factory Audits

The most basic audit includes legal registration and licensing checks as well as an onsite inspection.  Even if it’s not your order being manufactured, we get a real-life view of manufacturing capability and quality standards.  Dependent on circumstances we can also investigate certifications, or conduct audits of management, industrial, social or environmental standards.

4. Factory Inspections

For extra peace of mind, you may want to have staff on-site at the factory while your order is being manufactured.  Catching issues early in the production run enables earlier resolution, with less wastage and cost.

5. Pre-shipment inspection

Hornet will always check your stock before it is paid for and shipped.  Not only do you avoid the cost of shipping sub-standard goods, but you’re in a much stronger position to negotiate with the supplier if you catch any problems at this time.

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August 27th 2013