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How to have Peace of Mind in Global Sourcing by Professional Inspection?

Inspecting products after manufacturing is an essential step to ensure that you get what you paid for. As you cannot judge your own work, it is important to have an independent specialist (with a good nose and sharp eyes) checking everything, from a metal part to a household appliance.

We have incorporated the final inspection step into our order fulfillment process. This is why customers have confidence and trust working with us. I hope that the cross-section of examples are of value – enjoy the August 2022 edition - Roland Schmid

1.0 Introduction:

With close to 20 years manufacturing experience in China, we have learnt the importance of inspecting products prior to release and shipment to customers.

We have paid the price of assuming process stability and repeatability.

To get consistent quality is absolutely not a given – you can never relax or remove your attention to what is being done and how.

I assume that this is the reason why many foreign companies use inspection services of reputable international companies such as SGS, TUV, DEKRA, etc. to check goods.

Whether it is a valve, a die-cast AL-housing, a cable assembly or an injection molding tool, it is essential to have the products inspected.

The following sections outline the inspection processes for different commodities and how the results are reported.

2.0 Inspection of Customer Repeat orders:

The readers of our newsletter understand our core business segments and the range of products/parts that we supply. Here we show you examples of how we handle repeat orders and the extent of the inspection work.

Inspections are typically done on a sample basis with defined sample levels and accept/reject quantities for different defect classifications.

Inspections for repeat orders cover the following:

  • Visual mechanical checks

  • Dimensional checks

  • Functional checks

  • Critical component checks

  • Packaging checks

2.1 Metal Ring

In high precision metal parts, focus is on dimensions, tolerances and surface quality. We also verify that the correct raw material has been used (authenticity of material certification document!).

Figure 2.1 provides excerpts of the typical inspection steps carried out in a metal ring.

2.2 Wireless Leak Detector

Inspection of electronic products (at the finished goods level) focus on function, cosmetic aspects, packaging, including content and printing of user manuals etc.;

In the case of the wireless leak detector, checks covered the following:

  • Correct LED function (different colors for specific warning states)

  • Transmission tests

  • External device connection tests

  • Assembly quality and packaging

2.3. Battery Holder

This is a very simple product. Nevertheless it is important to check the following:

  • Key Dimensions

  • Holding of the batteries (clamping force)

  • Battery contacts

  • Soldering quality (use of correct solder to ensure good bond between wires and contacts)

3.0 Inspection of Injection Molding Tools

Injection molding tools are complex and part/design specific and in many cases must meet certain “house standards” of the end customer (molding company).

We have established a comprehensive final tool inspection procedure that covers the following:

  • Overall tool checklist (see Figure 3.1)

  • Tool details

  • Tool frame

  • Core & cavity side details

  • Tool components

  • Steel hardness

  • Cooling channel sealing

  • Packaging & documentation

Figure 3.2 shows extracts of the tool inspection report

  • Steel heat treatment certificate

  • Cooling system layout

  • Tool drawings

  • BOM

  • Packaging & Documentation

Figure 3.3 shows tool packaging & documentation

4.0 Inspection of 3rd party Products

Our services cover inspection of 3rd party products, typically in the appliance sector.

We have significant experience with products such as fans, humidifiers, toasters, water kettles, aroma diffusors – just to name a few.

The emphasis on checking 3rd party products is on the following:

  • Product function

  • Product safety

  • Product visual aspects (cosmetics)

  • Product packaging, labeling, user manuals etc.

Figure 4.1 shows extracts of an inspection report of a humidifier. The results underline how important it is to comprehensively check appliances in the factory. In this case, the WiFi function (setting of different humidity levels & continuous mode) did not work 100%, the user manual was not color printed and the order number was missing on the shipping mark.

5.0 Conclusions:

China is a manufacturing powerhouse with well established industries, competencies, state-of-the art technologies and good people.

The problem is that rapid growth had led to constant changes

  • Factories move suddenly to a new location, either driven by the need for extra space, cost or other;

  • The workforce is generally not stable – skilled workers often do not return to an employer after the Chinese New Year national holidays; product & process knowledge is diluted or disappears within the span of 1-2 months!

Furthermore the mindset of owners of small to medium sized companies is frequently “narrow”, penny wise & pound foolish. For example, it is cheaper to use newspaper to wrap precision machined AL parts and throw them in a shabby carton box for transfer to an external anodizing plant, than using solid trays/bins, bubble wrap, dividers etc. to avoid transportation damage!

As it is impossible for foreign companies to monitor supplier operations in China it is advisable to use inspection service providers in order to check materials, products, functions according to a strict inspection protocol with clear “pass/fail criteria”.

We have established our own QC function within Vela Eurasia to minimize the risk of quality defects or sub-standard products being shipped to customers. Every shipment gets inspected, be it a metal part, an electronic assembly or a high-performance injection molding tool. Our customers understand the value, so much so that they have asked us to carry out inspections for products that they source directly from China. The important differentiators are sound process knowledge, deep understanding of products and an eye for details. Our customers are served by experts who have not just done a single inspection but dozens spanning over several years

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