QC: OK to be picky. But be professional.


“Excuse me- I think there’s something wrong with this in a tiny way that no one other than me would ever be able to pinpoint.”

In the cartoon the guest may very likely not be invited back to the establishment. 

If you are not professional in your inspection and assessments of the product flowing from your Chinese partner’s factory, they may very well not invite you back for more business either.


As professional buyers, we need to be picky with our China suppliers when it comes to quality.  But more importantly, we need to be professional in our ability to create a written standard for our expected quality. 


The ultimate goal is NOT to have defects and the best way to avoid defects is for the factory to have a crystal clear understanding in terms of what is your standard and how to inspect for that standard (including what tools and techniques are required).

For example, if you are buying red umbrellas, it is not sufficient to say “my standard is a red umbrella”.    


A professional buyer would state the PMS or Pantone # of red they want and also offer counter samples of 3 things: 

1. The darkest acceptable red.

2. The idea red.

3. The lightest acceptable red.

The inspection protocol should also be well defined. For example, umbrellas are pulled from the line at random per AQL level 2, inspected against agreed counter samples, held at arm’s length under natural light.


In summary, if you don’t put down in writing a scientific and repeatable inspection process for the key aspects of your product, there is a high likelihood you will get exactly what you didn’t want.


To see how a professional contract manufacturer lays out the internal inspection standards for inspectors and workers on the line, visit PassageMaker’s Product Quality Manual.

About the author: Mike Bellamy

Advisory Board Member & Featured Blogger at the not-for-profit China Sourcing Information Center (www.ChinaSourcingInfo.org). Author of “The Essential Reference Guide to China Sourcing” and founder of PassageMaker Sourcing Solutions.

1 Comment

  1. Etienne Charlier on December 11, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    I cannot agree more with this post.
    In my experience, many quality problems are caused by a wrongly specified or wrongly interpreted specification.
    This is not to reduce the supplier’s responsibility in this process, but it cannot hurt as a purchaser/supplier manager to take more responsibility in ensuring the supplier has got what it needs to produce quality.
    And, bare bad will or sheer incompetence, the Chinese supplier will deliver better quality product in line with expectation

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