China Post Production Quality Control Processes:
- Why do we use Quality controls in post-production?
- The importance of inspections
- How to ensure robust quality control is being implemented?
- Ensuring you have a measurable right-first-time target
Why do we need quality controls?
You may be asking yourself, why, if I am sourcing in China (read our Blog here on how to start your journey sourcing in China), would I need to know about these in-depth quality processes? It’s a good question and one that a few customers have approached me with. I always advise the following:
Robust quality control processes in manufacturing can:
- Increase customer loyalty.
- Gain repeat business.
- Gain new customers in referrals.
- Maintain your advantageous position in the market.
- Improve customer safety.
- Reduce any liability issues you may have with the product (especially around safety).
- Contribute to a positive brand.
The importance of understanding these items is important, purely because who wouldn’t want anyone of the above points for their products. If you can avoid any of the above issues in your manufacturing line, or process then you should employ it.
So how do we achieve perfection?
In manufacturing, quality control is the process that ensures that the customer receives a product that is free of defects and is fit for purpose.
When not completed correctly then customers can be put at risk, full recalls are something that needs to be avoided like the plague. The impact upon the bottom line can be devastating. The way to avoid this from happening is ensuring that you have robust quality control at the end of the line.
Some of these processes that can be employed are:
- Statistical process control
- This system monitors and controls the output of quality control outputs by tracking production methods using metrics, it helps managers identify issues and solve issues before they can leave the factory.
- Six Sigma
- We briefly discussed Six Sigma in our previous post (Read Here). It fundamentally uses five key principles to ensure products meet customers’ needs and have no defects.
- Lean Six Sigma is a fact-based, data-driven philosophy of improvement that values defect prevention over defect detection. It drives customer satisfaction and bottom-line results by reducing variation, waste, and cycle time, while promoting the use of work standardization and flow, thereby creating a competitive advantage. It applies anywhere variation and waste exist, and every employee should be involved.
End of line testing
End of line tests are the strongest barriers that can be implemented to ensure that manufacturing defects do not make their way to customers. They can be as simple or complex as you want them to be. A very complex end of line test that is 100% robust at capturing all failures will be both expensive and potentially slow. A fine balance needs to be employed.
Visual Poka Yokes are one way of ensuring that component issues are captured at the end of line. More companies are also turning to visual camera systems to ensure that issues are not only stopped, seized and rejected, but additional traceability captured.
One question that is always posed in this topic is; how do I define the number of products or batches to be tested? This boils down to one key question; how many resources do you have available?
Manufacturing facility testing is a must, however, if you have one person available for testing, and only available for one day at a time. Especially when the factory could potentially be 4-5 hours transport time away. It quickly becomes a bottleneck.
I have seen countless times, individuals, self-contracting for a single day of work to conduct inspections in cities such as Ningbo, when they will be based in Shanghai. Only to have travel time eat up the majority of the day. The inspections cannot be accurately conducted, surely?
This is why we always advise our customers who use our services to take a look in detail at what we offer vs individual sourcing companies. The companies may even use single self-employed contacts on the ground, that employ unscrupulous tactics to inspect without even being there.
How to ensure robust quality control end of line testing is being completed?
Even with the best, most refined lean production line, 100% of right the first time is nigh on impossible, it’s a great goal to have. However, if your inspectors and suppliers are informing you that this is the case, then a further look is required.
Ask to see the projected reject rate, inspect the product yourself, or get a trusted independent company to conduct the testing on your behalf. Ask to see quarantined stock, and process improvements that have been put in place to ensure that the issue no longer happens.
Ensure that all rejected items’ rejection reason is noted down before scrapping. This is to ensure that any process improvement or communications downstream can be referenced to real data with percentage rejection rate being sourced from accurate data points.
How to handle rejected components?
This may sound like a simple question and answer, but it’s amazing how often both small and big companies get this wrong.
A robust process is required to handle rejected components, the process needs to include a quarantine process, obvious visual markers to ensure that the component cannot make its way back onto the line and finally how scrap parts are robustly disposed of.
Additionally, the process needs to contain information on how to determine if batches will be rejected in the event of major quality issues.
Questions such as; will production be halted and ways to ensure that the feedback is generated back into the standards to ensure that no more defective products are created.
Root cause analysis to identify issues robustly is a necessity. 5 WHYS is a great method to utilise to get to the base of the issues. We will be discussing root cause analysis in another blog post and identify how and when we have used it in the past.
This leads us to the end of our 3-part special on an introduction into quality. I hope you have enjoyed it and learned something from the topic that here at Merch Sprout, we hold close to our hearts.
Get in touch:
Please, feel under no obligation to use any of the above, there are countless ideas on how to achieve perfection in the art of quality out on the internet. If you do feel that you can benefit from our expertise in quality and sourcing. Get in touch here, we would be happy to talk to you to discuss your needs.