The Social-Distancing Dilemma: Quality Assurance
December 11, 2020
We first heard of the pandemic when it hit China back in January 2020. It was immediately clear that it would have a big impact on supply chain management. Ensuring responsible working conditions that met safety regulations and prevented contagion was not going to be easy. Many importers turned to their sourcing office, sourcing agents, and service providers for advice on how to minimize the disruptions.
Since we have been in China for over 40 years, we had experience with disruption and uncertainty. Not only were there other epidemics, but there were also challenges due to wars, IP protection and tariffs. So, as our clients looked to us to protect their interests, we reacted quickly to Covid.
In the process of mitigating risk and minimizing the effect of uncertainties for our clients, we were helped by well-established systems and processes for every aspect of the supply chain. Quality assurance in particular can be maintained with the right support system. There are in fact numerous ways to ensure the quality of your products, even from the other side of the world during a pandemic. The main ones are:
PSS/ISS: Set clear intentions and standards using detailed Product Specification Sheets and Inspection Specification Sheets. Your supplier should know exactly what your product should look like, feel like, and function. They should also be crystal clear on how you intend to use and test the product.
Inspections: Many importers have had to postpone or cancel inspections. However, most inspections continue to occur with social-distancing and mask mandates observed. Throughout the pandemic, our China team has continued to conduct in-person inspections for our clients, supplemented by a detailed post-inspection report replete with clear, detailed information and photos. This enables many of our clients to start, continue, and finish production without delay.
Alternatives: When CPG doesn’t conduct inspections ourselves, there are still myriad alternatives, such as hiring a trusted third-party to do the inspection and supplementing in-person visits with detailed photos, videos, and video conferences to confirm quality and avoid delays.
Recourse: Our motto at CPG when it comes to quality control is “Prevention is better than a cure.” This means having clear, detailed procedures and contracts in place to ensure all products conform to your expectations before you get a bad shipment. It is in the midst of uncertainty, this preparation pays off more than ever. Ensure your contracts outline a plan of recourse should the quality standards not be met.
We never imagined the pandemic would cause disruptions for this long. However, those that have adapted their procedures to ensure continuity have been, and will continue to be, able to overcome many of the obstacles presented by Covid.
How have you adapted your quality assurance procedures to manage the effects of Covid? How have you minimized disruptions? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
By Jocelyn Trigueros
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