A number of high-profile cases of poor quality control in China in the past few years have raised question about how foreign companies can ensure that products they produce in or source from China meet health and safety requirements. While Chinese companies generally make products that are safe, it is still critical that foreign companies conduct due diligence to ensure quality from Chinese manufacturers. Here are some steps to ensure quality control when working with Chinese companies.
Visit the Factory in Person
Visiting the manufacturing site of the Chinese company you wish to source from is an essential first step of quality control in China. Do not simply rely on information provided over the internet or on trade websites. Additionally, if you do make a trip to China to visit the company, do not only visit the company’s corporate offices but also their factory. Seeing the factory will enable you to ensure that the company is a legitimate business entity and makes products according to your company’s standards.
If your company cannot send its own representative to visit the manufacturing site it should hire a professional and credible service provider to visit the factory on your behalf. The person who inspects the factory should have technical knowledge of the product and its manufacturing process.
Check the Company ‘s Background
In addition to visiting the factory, your company should also request from the manufacturer references and case studies of its work with other foreign companies. By checking with its previous clients you can learn more about the quality of the company’s manufacturing process and if it is a company which will meet your company’s quality standards.
If your company has determined that the manufacturer has high quality standards, it is also important to be clear with them about your company’s specific standards. As part of this process your company should develop and maintain a good relationship with the manufacturer. This relationship will make it easier for your companies to understand each other’s business culture and to resolve problems in case they arise. By building a relationship your company can feel comfortable doing business with the manufacturer and they can clearly understand your company’s standards.
Monitor the Manufacturing Process
Your company should have a staff member or qualified representative monitor the manufacturing process in person to ensure quality, especially if it is your first time working with the company. Even if you have taken the steps described above to ensure that company can meet and understand your company’s standards, you should operate on the principle of “trust, but verify” and have someone on the ground to confirm that these standards are met. In addition, by having someone on site your company will be able to resolve any problems that may arise during the manufacturing process more efficiently than if you do not.
Mr. Goh is President and Mr. Sullivan is Director of Business Development and Communications at US-Pacific Rim International, Inc. (www.us-pacific-rim.net). If you have questions, comments, or would like to learn more about USPRI you can contact Mr. Sullivan at [email protected]