How to manage defective products from sourcing to shipping?

It is quite hard to believe that any quality inspection company in China manufactures 100% perfect products with zero defects all the time? Unfortunately, no factory or manufacturing unit churns out perfect and zero defect products each and every time— not in the automotive industry, not in the aerospace industry, and certainly not in any products industry.

Defects in products are quite common in the manufacturing industry. They can come in various sizes, shapes, and severity. And, they are a major problem that can significantly affect you as an importer or supplier and your final result.

So, how can you handle these defective products?

The administrative failure starts with the establishment of expectations during the initial supply process and continues throughout the production phase until the moment in which the supplier sends the final products.

Reaching the final level of quality inspection for you and your clients can mean a long way ahead. But a systematic and methodological approach can take you there. In addition to this, it begins with the choice of the right suppliers.

Set clear expectations when choosing suppliers

Have you ever heard this expression, “An ounce of prevention is worth as compare to a pound of cure”? There is probably no better instance when it comes to preventing items that are defected in the manufacturing process.

Taking time to document your needs and requirements properly will help you choose the best service provider later. Reviewing these expectations with your suppliers helps you avoid costly corrective actions in the later stage.

Product requirements

Before choosing a supplier for your business, you need to know something about the needs of your product. And the clearer you tell the supplier, the less likely you are to receive unpleasant or defective merchandise.

Many importers choose from the catalogs of suppliers of “white label” products in order to import only with their brand. But, if you are designing a new product or service, to do so, the manufacturer must provide detailed specifications with the design image.

Product defect tolerances

You can consider the value of your product. Let us say you are importing some plastic beaded necklaces that are handed out for free at the Mardi Gras festival in France. Are you going to reject an entire order of products just because there are small scratches in the paint on about 20% of the beads? Probably not.

Now let us say you are importing sterling silver bangles that retail for $70-$100 each. You will probably be quite sensitive to any scratches on its surface as your client will be. These considerations will definitely help you classify all the types of quality defects in your goods. In addition to this, classifying defects prepares your manufacturer and supplier so they can take steps in order to avoid the types of issues that will lead to rejections from your customer side.

One of the best ways to classify defects early is to build a detailed checklist for quality control showing a breakdown of possible defects in products and how they should be classified (for example, “major,” “minor,” and “critical”). It is also helpful to include pictures, if possible, in order to distinguish between defects that vary in severity and type.

Once you have appropriately sorted all the types of defects into your product quality checklist, it is time to quantify your tolerance for each kind of defect. This is often expressed in terms of acceptable quality levels or acceptable quality limits.

Practices of quality control typically rely on acceptance sampling in order to determine whether to reject or accept or shipment based on a sample of goods pulled from the total lot. Acceptable quality limits establish the maximum acceptable number of defects in products found in a given sample based on defected classification.

Let us say you can consider a scratch on your product to be a “major” type of defect, and you have set your acceptable quality limit for major defects as 2.5. This means the maximum number of scratches or other major defects allowed in a random sample of about 80 pieces is 5. And you will reject the order if quality check personnel find six or more major defects in the final sample.

If differences in the dimensions of your goods will affect salability, include a table with relevant measurement tolerances or a sizing chart. This is especially relevant for hand-sewn products like garments and footwear that are more susceptible to human error.

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