Perhaps one of the biggest overlooked pitfalls to doing business in Asia and especially in China for manufacturers is a consistence of quality of the products they choose outsource from this region. The focus on quality by Chinese companies is just not equal to their western counterparts. Many Chinese manufacturers will ship products that are close to specifications but are not within them because they feel that products are made “close enough” to what was requested, and the US customer ends up in essence with a container of scrap materials.
Hence, constant inspection and monitoring is essential to the success of any outsourced manufacturing program to Asia. GAC provides qualified Quality Assurance professionals within a close proximity of our manufacturing networks to ensure that our client’s products are manufactured in an acceptable and timely manner for our western clients.
Paying for good quality inspection is an insurance premium that no experienced China buyer goes without. When Outsourcing from Asia, you always have to consider the total cost, which is included in GAC’s commission and fee’s. This also includes:
• FOB pricing calculations
• The potential cost of returns (material/immaterial)
• The potential cost of delayed delivery (material/immaterial)
• The cost of supply chain and QA management (flights/hotels, jetlag, agony)
Most of our people are prominent Chinese nationals, but educated in the USA. Collectively we know of a good number of suppliers that are good to work with, and which ones to avoid. In China sometimes we opt for Taiwanese owned factories, because they often have better, more long term oriented, management. The “Guanxi” concept plays an important role, when you work with a factory, because then there is much more at stake than just the current business deal. Our selected suppliers avoid many of the issues associated with “unknown” factories such as abandoning tooling halfway through the process when they think fixing the problems will cost more then the final payment is worth. A “Guanxi“ factory will take the hit and keep going until the client is satisfied, so he avoids losing face, focusing on tomorrow’s profitable relationship.
Too avoid the “Garbage in-Garbage out” syndrome of inferior selected production materials we place quite a lot of emphasis on material specifications and incoming inspection. It is important to verify that the incoming materials can only come from approved sources as a great majority of quality problems are caused by China manufacturers trying to save a penny by substituting inferior materials. We also monitor what is shipped to our clients. No manufacturer is happy with 50,000 rejected units, as unscrupulous Chinese suppliers often will try to sneak reworked units back into future shipments. Our goal is of course to identify potential problems early so we can eliminate the causes.
Quality Inspection in most mass production factories in the US and Europe means Statistical Process Control. But China operates in a different environment. Don’t be surprised when a China manufacturer says he doesn’t know SPC, they typically go with 100% inspection. However, this 100% inspection process is no Guarantee. Its common to see an extra worker at every station monitoring the products being manufactured, however, we make sure that these inspectors actually know what they are looking for, as they are there often for show--providing no quality control!
The key to good quality assurance is to define what are the important criteria, measurements, and needs that our western client’s deem as crucial to their outsourced manufacturing success. Our international QA team works on both sides of the ocean to get all the parties to focus on these issues right from the beginning. Moreover as QA and ISO certification has become a crucial part of the manufacturing world, GAC’s expert QA department works hard with our clients and suppliers to integrate their systems (overcoming language and production method barriers) into one.