If you are visiting China to look for new suppliers chances are that your time will be very limited – you will arrive feeling tired and more than a little bit lost! You will likely need to carry out a quick China factory inspection at each of the businesses you visit.
It can be a very costly exercise, so you want to make sure you can maximize your time by checking out a wide range of suppliers to get as clear a picture as possible of what the factory is really like.
One option is to engage the services of a specialist inspection or consulting company, who can help you to review potential suppliers without having to make the long trek to China.
Another sensible tactic is to first verify your list of suppliers to make sure you only visit legitimate companies that fit the profile you need.
However, there are also many reasons why it is a good idea to see the supplier’s facilities with your own eyes, and for those wishing to embark on a sourcing trip we have created a simple 10-point China factory inspection checklist of what you should look for.
10 Key Objectives for a China Factory Inspection
Check the cleanliness and orderliness of both the factory and the office
Check how they identify, maintain and keep track of materials
Observe the production equipment, their condition and output capacity (calculate: can they really produce as much as they claim?)
Take a look at product samples and compare with the quality you see on the production line
Observe what in-process checks are being carried out during production
Figure out what testing or final inspection processes are occurring. Are they meaningful or just for show?
Visit their test laboratory but don’t be blinded by impressive looking equipment – is there evidence of regular testing to appropriate criteria?
Take a look in the warehouse and identify where else they are selling products to (local or overseas? to developed or developing economies?)
Get copies of the company’s business license, ISO certification and relevant product reports etc. These can all be verified later.
Once you have visited many factories it can be difficult to remember each one clearly, so take plenty of photos (ask for permission first)
Also be careful to avoid making some of these common mistakes that inspectors regularly encounter when visiting Chinese factories.