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Quality Control (QC) is an important facet in maintaining the quality of various products while working with suppliers/manufacturers in China. However, Quality control is sometimes ignored, or not prioritized enough, and this raises the risks of doing business in China.  Currently, many companies are suffering because of the disputes arising from poor quality, broken promises, pirated goods, and late deliveries from suppliers in China.  Nonetheless, the legal system can come to the rescue of these companies, and undoubtedly it has also improved a lot in China. GlobalTQM has constantly helped many new start-ups to get a fair understanding on, how the system actually works, and how these situations can be avoided.

Quality Control (QC) is an area where things also get a bit complicated, if you are not considering it from the start. For example, if you fail to give clear quality specifications and general order requirements at the start, it becomes difficult to make claims against your supplier later on.

Thus, some of the important ways for minimizing quality risks and ensuring Quality Control, in China can be summarized as –

  1. Choosing a Good Manufacturer / Supplier: First and foremost, any company has to choose their china manufacturer intelligently, and diligently. You need to make sure that the manufacturer has a list of clients which are credible, and that the manufacturer performs regular Quality Control (QC), and the procedures for Quality management are well defined.
  2. Using a good Original equipment manufacturing (OEM) Agreement: Well drafted contracts (agreements) can ensure that your Chinese company knows, what is required from them specifically, and more importantly what will happen if it fails to provide them. If any Chinese manufacturer fails to abide by the crucial terms of the agreement, then the OEM contract can clearly define specific penalties, in the form of liquidated damages provision. The definition of liquidated damages (as per Wikipedia):

“Liquidated damages (also referred to as liquidated and ascertained damages) are damages whose amount the parties designate during the formation of the contract for the injured party to collect as compensation upon a specific breach (e.g. late performance).”

  1. Drafting detailed documents: Most of the Chinese factories are meant to do “exactly what you tell them to do”. This phrase is extremely important to understand as it means that, what you want them to do, “needs to be clearly conveyed”, and “with detailed instructions, and specifications in Chinese” (besides English instructions/specifications). Nevertheless, it is even better to have a well written QC inspection protocol or quality plan that can give details on every important aspect related to the product.

For example, if you plan to produce brown sofa covers, it’s not sufficient to just say “brown sofa covers”, you need to offer a check list of counter samples to define –

  1. Lightest satisfactory brown colour sofa cover.
  2. Perfect brown colour sofa cover.
  • Darkest tolerable brown colour sofa cover.
  1. Arranging regular visits / Audits / Inspections: Perform regular product inspections, appropriate to the product you are manufacturing with suppliers in China. Either your own company employees, or a trusted/experienced third-party QC company should pay regular visits to your supplier’s manufacturing facility. These regular inspections help factories to have a better product understanding, and also displays your seriousness/commitment towards your final outcome. Many Chinese companies show that they perform regular quality controls (QC), which causes the foreign buyer to drop its guard. After the guard is down, a sudden drop in quality might occur, which may cause extreme damage to the reputation of the foreign company in the future. Therefore, regular inspection is very important to avoid these damages.

Conclusively, the ultimate goal of Quality Control (QC) is NOT to have defects, and the best way to avoid defects is for the factory to have a crystal-clear understanding of company standards, and product specifications. Another important measure is to have timely inspections during the manufacturing process, including the tools and techniques that are required to perform certain inspections. A lot of these measures fall into grey areas for companies, and it is very hard for a foreign company to make sure these measures are taken care of by their suppliers/manufacturers. GlobalTQM has been working for many years, with several partners (foreign companies) to manage all aspects related to quality controls (for our partners), and to make sure that the associated risks are minimised, to get hassle free, and quality adhered production in China.