You should pay more attention to Quality Control, here’s why
Sourcing in China can be daunting, especially when you don’t have years of experience doing it. When you manage to avoid the pitfalls of selecting the right supplier, it’s time to get real with Quality Control.
Quality Control (QC) is a process implemented to ensure that a manufactured product adheres to a set of quality criteria and meets the requirements of the client or customer. As it’s often overlooked and lacks defined processes in most companies, it might generate important additional costs to your sourcing process.
In order to give you a few pointers on how to improve Quality Control in your company, we’ve met with Renaud Anjoran, founder at SynControl, who has over 10 years’ experience in quality control and helps buying offices manage their inspectors’ work better.
You co-founded SynControl, a software company for managing QC inspections. How did you come up with it?
There is a lack of process in the QC operations of most buying offices. To give a few examples:
- Inspectors work outside a strict framework, which means one inspector might find issues that his colleague wouldn’t find. It is a serious reliability issue.
- Managers often get partial information (a few photos through Wechat) outside of context, and get the full report much later at night.
- Issues detected by inspectors or auditors are not followed up and used for driving improvements.
What is, according to you, the most challenging part of QC?
For the QC manager, it is keeping a control over what happens when his/her team is working in suppliers’ factories, far away from the office.
For the individual inspector, it is balancing the needs of proper processes and reporting with the flexibility required because of the constant urgencies of production.
What would you say would be a typical good process for QC?
A few elements of a good QC process would be:
- Documented checklists and defect lists
- The inspector’s workflow is structured by the checklist
- Findings are documented immediately without extra time/effort
- The final report is available and distributed to the right people once the inspection is over
How does your software help with designing better Quality Control processes?
- Inspectors follow the checklist on their mobile app
- Photos/videos can be taken as fast on a smartphone/tablet as they were previously with a digital camera
- Once all the findings are sync’ed up to the server, the final report is generated automatically and sent by email.
I understand you have a lot of QC field experience, what’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you?
An inspector can see a lot of things, and sometimes hear a lot of things. In 2007 I had a client who was an importer. They purchased from a Hong Kong-based trading company that had a team in China to follow production. The client came and set up the lines and the machines when production was starting (or so they thought). Once the client was gone, the factory simply subcontracted the work to another workshop. The Chinese staff in the trading company was aware of it but not their managers in Hong Kong. When we came for the final inspection it was obvious there was an issue – we were finding defects that could only come from machines not set up by the client’s engineer. The client figured it out and they were quite upset. I am under the impression that the Hong Kong managers are still scratching their heads over what happened…
What’s your favourite feature of SynControl, the one thing that makes you proud?
The ability for office people to see what the inspector has found at any point during the day. Obviously it implies that the inspector’s mobile app is connected to the internet but in China that’s not an issue in 90%+ of cases.
Finally, If you had to give one advice for QC to our readers, what would it be?
If you define processes that make sense to your company, and you hire a certain profile of inspectors who like to follow a sequence of steps in a systematic manner, you will tend to do well. If you leave things to chance and hope for the best, you might be terribly disappointed.
Learn more about SynControl and how they can help you design a more systematic approach to Quality Control on syncontrol.com.