Managing the China Supply Chain: What to look for in Inspection Reports

When it comes to managing the China supply chain, a fundamental rule is to regularly execute inspections. They are not expensive—often starting as low as $100 depending on the size of your order—and allow you to identify any issues before the order leaves the factory and the country.

An inspection report is a report completed by either the factory or an independent inspector who checks your order against your quality specifications. Inspections are most commonly conducted once production has finished, however you can request an inspection mid-production if necessary.

Here are four things to ask yourself before you give your next inspection report the all-clear.

  1. Do the products meet my Quality Control specifications?

Before placing an order, you must set out your Quality Control (QC) specifications in a QC sheet and send it to the factory. This is the document the inspection company will work from when completing the report. As the customer, you specify the focus and the extent of the inspections. So, if there are any particular concerns you have going into production, ensure they are listed on the QC sheet.

  1. Is there photographic evidence?

Photographs are usually a must. Request images of product elements you are concerned about, such as seams and joints. You might also want photographs of the production process. It is also beneficial to request photographs of your product in its final packaging, and of the final packed products inside the shipping cartons.

  1. Does it measure up?

Make sure the finished product has the same measurements as specified in your order. Check that the packaging and shipping boxes are the size you initially planned for. This is especially important in cases where you are supplying a product to a company that uses an automatic sorting machine, as they often have strict carton requirements.

  1. What sample size are they using?

Ensure you know how many items will be inspected, and request your own sample size if you want to. Typically, a post-production inspection will check 1-2% of an order randomly. If there are any issues during the first inspection, ask for a second inspection and specify a larger sample size. NOTE: Be sure the inspection was really done randomly and specify the exact process in the QC sheet.

While many factories offer their own inspection services, we recommend engaging a third-party inspection company for reassurance and to avoid issues with your China supply chain.

What do you look for in inspection reports? How do you handle any issues that come up in inspection reports? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

By Laura O’Laughlin


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