“Made in China”
You hear it and see it everywhere. It’s even got its own Wikipedia page. But what image does it conjure up?
Cheap, low quality goods produced by hand in sweat shops.
It’s a common perception for ‘Made in China’ – but is it justified?
Aston Martin seem to think so when they recalled 17,000 vehicles. The iconic sports car brand indicated that ‘a Chinese sub-supplier was allegedly using counterfeit plastic material in part of the accelerator pedal’. The recall sparked protest in the Chinese media, who blamed supply chain management instead.
Meanwhile, according to Rio Tinto ‘Chinese manufacturers are really improving’ . In some cases ‘the quality actually was much higher’.
What’s the truth about quality in China?
There’s no doubt China’s manufacturing industry was built on plentiful, unskilled labour. As such, it emphasised cost savings over quality.
However, as we’ve noted before, manufacturing in China is changing. Many hi-tech products with stringent quality standards are made in China, including phone handsets, pharmaceuticals, robotics and even 3D printed goods.
Hornet’s own experience includes sourcing electronics, security gates, mining equipment, machine parts and more. We know it’s possible to produce high-quality, technically complex items in China. What’s more, it’s affordable!
So what went wrong for Aston Martin?
There’s no clear statement on the Aston Martin website. Internet reports are conflicting, impassioned and incomplete. The story continues to unfold. The most sensible comment we’ve found so far is from Plastics News China:
But, in another sense, we know enough already.
We know, inarguably, Aston Martin in this case failed on lower-level supplier management and quality control.
It doesn’t really matter whether the molder was Kexiang. We know the part was made by a shabby factory in China, regardless of its real name or location.
It doesn’t really matter who and where the supplier of the plastic material is. We know someone successfully sneaked counterfeit resin into Aston Martin’s production network.
In other words, there are risks if you have goods made in China. However, good supplier management and quality control can (should!) manage these risks.
This is what sourcing is all about.
A strong sourcing process means you shouldn’t have to issue recalls like Aston Martin and Panadol.
This is what Hornet do every day for our clients. It’s why we have offices in China, our own staff on the ground. It’s why we do pre-shipment inspections on every project we manage. It’s why we offer factory audits and inspections when appropriate.
We want each and every Hornet client to get the cost benefits of product made in China without sacrificing quality. Our processes are designed to ensure that happens.