Production Management and Inspections
Once your order is placed, stay involved. Understand the production process and what needs to happen in order to get your product from order to delivery. In defining your Production and QC Strategy, you highlighted the key milestones that need to be reviewed during production. Monitor how the factory is adhering to these milestones and pay particular attention to the gaps. Large gaps could indicate a potential problem that you will want to address immediately.
Regular contact with the factory or your agent is highly important. You will want to pick up on delays as soon as they become evident (although this is very difficult to do from overseas). If you can manage it, you should plan to visit the factory during production of your goods to verify that product is being made according to your specifications and as contracted in your order.
When the order is finished, you should insist on a production sample for your review. As we mentioned earlier, this is far better managed by a third party if you are not able to do it in person (either for logistical reasons or it isn’t cost effective). Your inspections should be managed according to a recognized inspection standard. We use the MIL-STD-105E (military standard) although The American Society for Quality (ASQ) publishes a book that defines and explains the “Zero Acceptance Number Sampling Plans,” which is another acceptable approach to quality control.
The important point to remember is that ongoing involvement is a big part of building your relationship with the supplier. Getting your supplier to understand your standards and requirements and holding them to those standards will eventually get the factory to self-regulate, which will save more time and expense down the road. Involvement is the key, as an involved customer we usually find is a happy customer.